Chicago, IL—Jenna Hoffman is just like any other ultimate player. She practices hard; she lays out on defense; she enjoys the company of her teammates. In short, she loves the game into which she has poured her heart and soul over the last four seasons.
But with Jenna, there is one key difference. She was born with two forehands.
“It’s definitely hard,” said Hoffman in an interview with UltiWhirled. “Most players are, you know, born with one backhand and one forehand, but I have to get by with two forehands.”
Doctors suspect that Jenna is afflicted with diforehandria hilariitis a rare genetic disorder inherited from her father. But since there is no definitive test for the disorder, and no cure for the symptoms, Jenna has had to learn to cope with her difference.
“For the most part it’s fine. I play good defense, and I can still run and jump really well. I’m super fast, and I’m, like…5’11”, so I can still provide a lot of value to a team,” said Hoffman.
Where Jenna’s disorder surfaces, however, is on offense.
“Yeah, once I get the disc, it can be a challenge sometimes because I have to do all my faking without establishing a pivot foot. That way I can switch the disc and step out to throw with the other hand.”
Jenna last suffered from an acute attack of diforehandria in the middle of a game at College Regionals in 2011. Her team’s D-line had managed to get possession. Hoffman made an in-cut and laid out with her defender to catch the disc before sliding out of bounds.
“So on the one hand it was a great catch,” Hoffman recalled “But then my disorder flared up when I had to establish my pivot spot at the point on the playing field proper nearest to where I had originally become out of bounds. I was like…oh my gosh, do I use my left foot or my right?”
Jenna was stalled out, unable to break the no-around mark after her fateful decision. Ultimately, her team lost the game by a single goal.
Many readers will be familiar dibackhandria freshamnitis (a closely-related condition in which a player is born with two backhands), which can be remedied with intense physical therapy and a semester on a B-team. Jenna’s condition more serious and totally untreatable.
Despite her challenges, Jenna is determined to play at the club level.
“I feel like this is something I can do,” Jenna stated with confidence. “I got cut when I went to tryouts last year, but I really believe in myself. I’ve come a long way since that Regionals game, and that would never happen to me now. I just hope that people don’t let their prejudices get in the way of roster decisions.”
Hoffman will attend tryouts for a Classic Flight team starting in late May, and hopes to make the roster through a tryout tournament in mid June.
From everyone here at UltiWhirled, we’re pulling for you, Jenna.
Because it’s hard to pull with a flick.