Coach Profile: Alex “Dutchy” Ghesquiere
Some things have a certain kind of magnetism. They just go together - chocolate and peanut butter; a sunny summer’s eve and a nice beer; the DC Breeze’s new head coach Alex “Dutchy” Ghesquiere and winning.
Ghesquiere's list of ultimate accomplishments is exhaustive: head coach of Team USA for its gold medal run at the World Games last July in Cali, Columbia. Head coach of an intrepid Washington DC Scandal squad that thoroughly dominated incumbent and formerly peerless champions Seattle Riot and San Francisco Fury on their way to claiming first place in Women’s Division club. A berth with that same Scandal team to the World Ultimate Club Championships in Italy later this summer.
And that is only one calendar’s worth of effort.
There are 20 more years of accolades and championships stockpiled on Ghesquiere’s resume – the list goes on and on and on some more, intimidating and laborious in its length and mentions. And the driving force behind all the winning is Ghesquiere’s grinding, competitive nature.
“I have a great time competing against anyone at any time,” Ghesquiere said. “I think probably my strength lies in creating a team culture and ethic where people are willing and able to put the most in that they can. I’ve been playing and coaching for such a long time. I’ve seen it all. I’ll run whichever strategy will fit the strength of that team.”
Having conquered nearly all other platforms in the sport, Ghesquiere now has his sights set on an AUDL championship. Midway through the season, he’s guided the revamped Breeze to a 4-1 record, good enough for second in the East division behind the defending league champions Toronto Rush. And despite it being his first year in the league, the adaptation to the newer rules of the AUDL and its field dimensions have been a mere afterthought for him.
“When I moved out to DC last year, I was interested in the pro scene. I thought of it as an experiment,” Ghesquiere said. “It’d be on the cutting edge of frisbee. The professional leagues are set up to provide good, watchable frisbee for fans, and the Breeze has been a good experience—the players have strong, good fundamentals, and it’s fun to put together a team that can play a high level of ultimate.”
Ghesquiere is a speak-softly-and-carry-a-big-stick type. Not one to bother with politicking or swagger, he lets his accomplishments on the field do most of the talking. He carries himself with the severity and composure of a tactician, citing his next success as his best. He is quick to mention “the team” and is deferential, almost begrudging, in discussing his own involvement in its accomplishments.
“Success doesn’t come down to an individual,” he said. “The foundation for winning has to be laid during the whole season. You have to get a team to believe that they will win—that they have the ability to overcome the obstacles that will arise throughout the course of a game or a tournament.”
In fact, it is a game in itself to get Ghesquiere to talk about himself. Other notable members in the ultimate community are well aware of his influence, often using reverent tones when discussing “Dutchy” and his winning ways.
“Dutchy is an outstanding coach and an even better person,” San Jose Spider star Beau Kittredge said. Kittredge played for the 2012 Revolver squad that Ghsequiere coached to a World’s Championship, and was his teammate for a few years prior on Revolver. “He just takes everything so seriously—beating him at board games is one of the highlights of living.” (Ghesqueire's wry rebuttal: “[Beau is] happy because it’s rare.")
Ghesquiere is also one of the main reasons that two of ultimate's most talented prospects - the superhero tandem of Alex Thorne and Tyler Degirolamo - signed with the DC Breeze this offseason, along with Team USA member Brett Matzuka, one of the most creative throwers in the game.
“A guy with [Ghesquiere’s] pedigree and experience is invaluable to a young team like us,” Thorne said. “Every team has a different playing philosophy, and Dutchy’s basic philosophy matched up pretty spot on with our philosophy.”
So far, the new pieces assembled under Ghesquiere’s instruction and guidance have had winning results. On a macro scale, the team is completing its throws at a rate of 93%, pacing the AUDL and demonstrating the positive effect Ghesquiere’s strategic commitment to spacing and precision on offense. On a personnel level, Ghesquiere’s schemes have allowed Degirolamo in particular to showcase his game, elevating the AUDL rookie into discussions for MVP with his stellar play.
Some things just go together.
- Caitlin Cieslik-Miskimen and Adam Ruffner