From the living room to the patio Friday evening, Evan Walter’s house in Maplewood was filled with family and friends who wanted to commend him on his accomplishments.
Walter was chosen for the 2012 Youth USA Worlds Ultimate Team in February. He was one of around 1,000 applicants chosen for the 22-man team, and will play alongside some of the best ultimate-frisbee players from across the country.
With the support of the community, he will compete with the team in the World Junior Ultimate Championship in Dublin, Ireland from Sunday to Aug. 18, with the hope of taking home the gold.
But this wasn't Walter's first shot in becoming part of the team. He applied during his junior year at Columbia High School. He endured a two-month trial, but wasn’t one of the 80 chosen players; instead, he was named an as alternate for the team.
Alternates don't attend the championship.
"It was heartbreaking for me not to make the team the first time," Walter noted. "I raised all this money and worked for two summers to save up for the trip, and not to make the team by such a small margin was really sad."
But that didn't stop Walter. He graduated from high school in 2011 with a scholarship to Tulane University's Honors College in New Orleans.
After deciding to take a year off after high school to work as an au pair in Spain, he took one more chance to follow his dream. During his trip, he sent in another application for the U.S. team, and this time was accepted, without even being able to attend tryouts since he was out of the country.
"When I got the email that I had gotten accepted I was in between making four Spanish kids’ beds," Walter said. "I was just shocked and started screaming. I had to stop and explain to the Polish maid why I was so excited."
Since middle school, Walter had been practicing ultimate frisbee with the Columbia High School team, where the sport originated in 1968. By the time he became a freshman, he'd made the varsity team, and by junior year, he was captain. The school won State Championship games all four years he played.
"Evan was one of my favorite people to coach," said former Columbia High School coach Anthony Nunez. "I met Evan at a really young age and he took to the sport really fast. By senior year he was the best kid in the country, so I'm not surprised he's made the USA team. I know he's going to go excel and make us all proud."