AUGUST 9, 2023
By Ryan Maloney
The early days of Benjamin Oort's journey into the world of ultimate frisbee began in his hometown, where he was introduced to the sport during a casual game at his local park. What started as a fun pastime with friends in the Netherlands soon turned into a great family legacy and passion. In what seemed like no time, at the young age of 18, he found himself recognized as one of the top talents in the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL).
Ben was born on January 1, 2000, and his introduction to the sport came from his father, Jeroen Oort. In Ben's formative years, he saw Jeroen's deep passion for the sport turn into a career with the Dutch National team. Having grown up with the sport in his blood and a frisbee in his hand at four years of age, Ben's skills progressed rapidly. He became a standout player at a young age, catching the eye of the GRUT mixed club team, which became the start of his ultimate career.
“My dad is a veteran player. He will be 60 years old this year, and he still plays today,” Ben said. “I grew up around the sport from him, going to his tournaments and being on the sideline. Then, I started really playing on an organized team when I was nine and haven’t looked back.”
This season, the youngest Oort is in the midst of his second AUDL season and first with the DC Breeze. He's become a central figure in the team's O-line success, which remains a constant in the league, despite the new faces like Oort leading the charge.
Ben plans to return to his home country at the end of the season, but he has always had the dream to come and play in North America. His dream took shape during a trip to Chicago for CUT Camp when he was just 15. The experience opened his eyes to the immense talent and opportunities that he wanted to be a part of in the United States and Canada.
“Immediately, I just realized how ultimate in North America was on a completely different level. Once I went back home to the Netherlands after CUT Camp, I knew I was hooked. One day, I wanted to come back to North America to play, anywhere in North America,” Oort said.
In 2018, his AUDL dream was a reality. Oort tried out for two ultimate teams, the Breeze and Toronto Rush. At the time, Oort was known as one of the youngest players in the AUDL with a ton of potential. Any team with value in developing young players could find a role for him. After careful consideration, he made the decision to join Toronto.
“It definitely all started in 2018. I had the great opportunity to meet Rowan McDonnell and Coach Darryl Stanley,” Oort said. “I decided to play for Toronto because the team’s situation looked better for me at the time, but I have always kept in touch with Rowan and Darryl over the years. Darryl would watch my games, I would watch his games.”
After a season with the Rush, he had a clearer vision of what his AUDL career would look like. He returned home to Holland and eventually decided to come back this year for a stint with the Breeze. Since Ben joined DC, it has been a transparent message for the entire AUDL.
“DC pitched it well to me,” Oort said. "They have a goal set, and I felt that in making my decision. The goal is clear: beat New York. Those additions (Cole Jurek, Andrew Roy, Thomas Edmonds, and Charlie McCutcheon) are getting us closer to that goal and I want to be a part of the journey,” Oort said.
With those newcomers alongside Oort, the projection for the playoffs is bright. Oort made his much-anticipated debut on May 13th, going head-to-head against the New York Empire. Despite the loss, with the spotlight on him, he delivered a fantastic performance. He tallied four goals and orchestrated two assists. His debut marked the beginning of what promised to be an exciting and successful journey with the Breeze.
Even though he missed a few games to participate in the World U24 Championships, Oort has consistently left a remarkable impression throughout this season. Over the course of eight games, he has tallied 24 goals and 18 assists, with an impressive 95.77% completion percentage. As the East Division Championship approaches, Oort aims to lead the squad against the two-time league champion New York Empire.
Oort envisions a future where the Netherlands and his beloved club team GRUT become powerhouses in ultimate frisbee. However, for now, he has his mind set on the AUDL. With a promising career still in its early stages, his journey serves as an inspiration for the next generation of ultimate frisbee players, especially those coming from Europe.