Darren Wu made a name for himself in the Riptide’s Week 8 matchup against the San Jose Spiders, when the 19-year-old Vancouver native scored 6 goals on 25 catches in Vancouver’s hard fought 25 – 26 loss. He maintained his composure against San Jose’s talent-stacked roster, and his knack for making big plays kept his team close against the best in the West and won Wu fans league wide. ESPN3 announcers Evan Lepler and Chuck Kindred gushed over Wu—the duo had the phrase “unbelievable sky from Darren Wu” on repeat by the end of the game—and noted he came out of nowhere to become arguably the best player on the field.
But for Riptide fans and observers of Vancouver’s ultimate scene, Wu’s breakout season was hardly unexpected. What was surprising was how quickly Wu picked up the sport (he’s been playing less than a year) and how well his natural athleticism matched ultimate’s demands. Wu didn’t know ultimate existed until he went to his high school team’s tryouts—the first time he caught a disc, he used his now-notorious hops to sky his soon-to-be coach. Wu started playing the sport with a single directive: run fast, catch the disc, and score.
“I was never taught to throw,” he said. “My job was to use my speed to help our team win, or boost morale by making a big play or getting a break from the other team.”
On the Riptide, Wu became a key part of the team’s O-line and the favorite target of Derek Fenton, the AUDL assists leader in 2014. The two connected on 17 goals, and Wu racked up 39 goals altogether. Wu spent much of the season in the AUDL top ten goals scored, in the company of ultimate vets like San Jose’s Beau Kittredge and Chicago’s AJ Nelson. Yet, despite his many highlight-worthy catches and his sudden ascendance in the professional ranks, Wu keeps his focus on what’s next.
“There’s not one great play from this season that I remember because I’m always looking to improve myself,” Wu said. “I want to play the best I can and outrun every player. Making big plays is good, but being able to make that deep cut and burn them deep is better.”
With one of the league’s youngest rosters, Vancouver finished in third place in the tough West division. And with Wu on the O line, they’re only going to get better.