German exchange student Marvin Waldvogel thinks he’s a sophomore, even though he’s on the verge of attaining an economics degree. But that doesn’t matter as much to him because he’s in the United States and at the University of Oregon, playing ultimate frisbee for Ego, UO’s 3rd ranked men’s club ultimate frisbee team.
“I’m here and I’m super glad,” Waldvogel said. “It’s an opportunity to get in circles I wouldn’t get without (frisbee).”
Waldvogel first flicked a disk when his best friend, Florian Böhler, asked if he wanted to play. He was nine years old growing up in a small German town that offered a strong youth ultimate program.
Both joined Bad Skid when it was founded in 2007. The team is filled with nicknames – Waldvogel goes by “Grande,” Böhler is “T-Rex.” It’s talent rich and has won five consecutive German national titles.
At 17, Waldvogel made the U20 German national team and was the youngest player on the squad. That season, with Böhler, Waldvogel won a gold medal in the European Championships. Three years later he was assigned to the chief German national squad for the 2011 Slovakia European tournament. The 20-year-old started on offense.
He’s been to Japan, Canada and nearly every European country with the German national team and Bad Skid. The United States only recently joined the list.
“I couldn’t see half of the places I’ve been without frisbee,” Waldvogel, 25, said in well-practiced English.
When he first landed in Portland, Waldvogel struggled expressing his emotions. Detailed communication wasn’t yet in his arsenal. However, just two weeks accustomed and on a whim, Waldvogel tried out for the Portland Rhino.
“The coach talked really fast,” Waldvogel said.
Selected, Waldvogel traveled to Colorado and Minnesota with the team. The skywalk in Minneapolis amazed the traveler.
Playing with Bad Skid against top-tier American clubs in international tournaments is how Waldvogel first heard of Ego. He asked Americans for recommendations on where he can study and play frisbee at a high level.
“I wanted to be part of a good program and learn something new,” Waldvogel said. “The (international) frisbee community knows about Oregon.”
One of the people Waldvogel approached was Jacob Janin, son of Ego head coach Jay Janin.
The Portland Rhino cut Waldvogel right before playoffs, but Waldvogel says it was good it did because he would have missed the first week of fall term. And Ego tryouts were around the corner.
“He made the team very easily, we knew he’d be able to play,” senior Nicholas Heaton said.
Waldvogel is purposfully a quiet player. Heaton sees him lead by example instead of assertion, a role Waldvogel wanted from day one.
“I didn’t want to come here and change something,” Waldvogel said. “We have three captains who do their jobs super good.”
Waldvogel starts on the defensive line and handles the disk more than any other defensive player.
“He’s really hard working,” Jay said of his first European player, “not really flamboyant or flashy, just really steady and plays within himself – doesn’t try and do too much or more than he can do.
“He’s pretty talented.”
Next summer, it could be in London if Waldvogel chooses to play for Germany in 2016 World Ultimate Championships. Or perhaps it’ll be back in Germany with Bad Skid.
For the time being, he’s with Ego.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewBantly