Becoming a Disc Golf Champion in Less Than 2 Years
With less than two years of disc golf under her belt, alumna Ella Hansen ’14 has already ranked first in two small disc golf tournaments and achieved third place at the U.S. Women's National Championship in May 2021 — as well as the Portland Open in June 2021. In 2018 and 2019, she was on the USA Ultimate Under 24 National Team and won two world championships with them, leading the team to their victory as team captain in 2019. In the 2021 Disc Golf World Championship, she took 11th place. Ella says, “I'm looking forward to competing in future years, and I think I can bring home a world title at some point!”
Life is funny sometimes, as you never know where it’s going to take you. This is what makes each individual’s life so unique, and especially so for Ella who spent her time at SAAS doing a little bit of everything — everything except disc golf. Ella played varsity basketball, ultimate frisbee, piano, drums, marimba, and to top it all off, trombone. After SAAS, she went on to the University of Oregon where she continued to play ultimate frisbee and double majored in product design and digital arts. Before she knew it, she had won a national championship in ultimate before even graduating college.
In late 2019, Ella decided to try her hand at disc golf and, well, succeeded without a doubt. When she started playing disc golf, she was enthralled by how far she could actually throw the disc. In ultimate, the maximum distance she could throw might be 240 to 250 feet on a good day. In disc golf, she could throw upwards of 500 feet. Being naturally competitive her whole life, she was instantly motivated to begin pushing herself to achieve greatness at this newfound sport that would soon become her passion.
By September 2020, Ella was competing in tournaments. For her first tournament she competed in the amateur division but by her second tournament she was thrown in at the pro level. After that, Ella says, “I never looked back.” In October 2020, she had the privilege to film the Women’s National Championship for Disc Golf and got to play the course, making her realize that she had incredible potential and could now play at the highest level.
As if all that success was not enough, Ella received a high ranking with the PDGA, the Professional Disc Golf Association, and has since climbed to hold a rating of 928 which puts her in the top 60 or 70 disc golf players in the world. With UDisc, a disc golf statistics company, she was ranked in the top 15 in the world.
Although Ella has accomplished incredible achievements already, she is always looking to continue growing. By 2023, she plans to be a full-time disc golfer and continue her work in videography and nonprofit, where she helps bring disc golf to women, youth, and underserved communities. In August 2021, Ella is traveling to Juneau, Alaska, to teach disc golf to the youth and communities in town. She explains, “Disc golf is a great outdoor activity that is extremely accessible and low cost, so it's a great way to get exercise.”
In less than two years of practicing the sport of disc golf, Ella has surely accomplished some incredible titles. We can’t wait to see just how far she goes, and maybe even pick up some disc golf tips along the way. Congratulations on all that you’ve accomplished, Ella!