As a high school ultimate frisbee player at Fairview, Caitlyn Lee volunteered to help out at the Colorado Cup club tournament every summer.
Lee would happily set up fields, keep scores and stats, fill water jugs, things like that. Whatever was asked was fine with her if it earned her a chance to watch some of the top adult players play the sport that she hoped to one day play at that level herself. It has been two years since Lee graduated from Fairview and Colorado Cup is now the host tournament for the Triple Crown Tour's Pro-Elite Challenge, the first major regular-season tournament of the club circuit.
For the 2017 edition, however, Lee didn't spend the weekend setting up for others. She spent the entire weekend between the lines playing her first tournament for the defending champion Boston Brute Squad.
Lee wasn't the only player from the BoCoPreps.com area who has risen to the highest levels of the sport, either.
"I used to always come to this tournament and it's really cool to see from on the field for a change," Lee said. "It's definitely a testament to the youth scene in Boulder and the giving-back the club players have done with the high school and middle school programs in the area. As the years go by and the people get older, it's awesome to see them spreading out throughout the nation."
After graduating from Fairview, Lee went on play at Dartmouth College where the women's ultimate team Princess Layout tied for fifth at college nationals her freshman season, after which she qualified for the U-20 national team that placed second at the world championships in Wroclaw, Poland. In her sophomore season at Dartmouth, Lee and her teammates won the school's first-ever national title on May 30 with a 15-9 victory over the University of Texas in the championship game.
Lee scored 19 goals at the college national championships, which was fifth best for the tournament and included three in the finals, and was named the Breakout Player of the Year by Ultiworld.com. In her club-level debut this past weekend, Lee and Brute Squad took first place at the Pro-Elite Challenge.
"This was a really fun tournament," Lee said. "We haven't had the full team together so it has been fun to be out there running around as a team and to get the chance to play back home in Colorado. It's fun to see all the girls who were freshmen when I was a senior in high school, who are all seniors now and captaining their own team and volunteering at this tournament like I did."
Another player from the BoCoPreps.com area, Nhi Nguyen, unfortunately had to sit out the weekend because of an injury she sustained during the U-24 national team tryouts two weeks ago. While her debut will be delayed, Nguyen, a Monarch graduate who played for U-19 national teams in 2012 and 2014 and currently captains the women's team at the University of Colorado, will play this club season with Denver's Molly Brown.
"I was the only person representing Colorado on the team in 2012 and I think 2014 too, and it's always nice to look back and look to my roots," said Nguyen, who scored a third-best 23 goals at the last college national championships. "It took a lot of help from the Colorado ultimate scene to get me to where I am so I love that I get to keep playing for my home state."