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By uscbknpt

Friends in High Places
Daniel Brunker DPT ’25
Professional Ultimate Frisbee Player

Illustration of Daniel Brunker playing Ultimate Frisbee


A ROLLING ROCK gather no moss. Just ask DPT student Daniel Brunker, who in addition to his doctor of physical therapy studies at USC and a gig as a teaching assistant for the Analytical Anatomy Course, manages to play professional Ultimate Frisbee. 

For those of you who might’ve missed that day in gym, Ultimate Frisbee is a team sport that draws inspiration from a number of sports (including the endzones of football, the passing and strategy of soccer, the back and forth nature of basketball and, of course, the Frisbee itself).

We caught up with our friend in high places, Daniel Brunker, to get to know more about his extracurricular passion. 


How did you get your started with Ultimate Frisbee?

I owe my introduction to Ultimate Frisbee to my brother who began playing in high school. In 10th grade, I had some friends that were playing and encouraged me to try out. I immediately loved being able to play a team sport with my friends, and I loved how the game borrowed elements from many different sports

You started with the Ultimate Frisbee Association’s (UFA’s) Colorado Summit before you moved to Southern California for your studies Where do you play now?

After moving out of Colorado, I joined the Los Angeles Aviators (also a member of the UFA) and will be playing my second year with them starting in April.

How do you balance your studies with playing Ultimate Frisbee? 

It is definitely a challenge. Overall, I have found that the benefits outweigh the negatives. Ultimate Frisbee is a big stress reliever for me and teaches me to be more efficient and manage my time better. During the preseason, we are working out three times a week, with practices 1-2 times a week. During the season, we have games most weekends that can be time consuming, especially for our away games throughout the West Coast.

When did you first know that being a physical therapist was of interest to you?

I grew up as a competitive ski racer, which came with plenty of injuries. I had a really positive, empowering experience with my physical therapist. He really helped me feel in control of my recovery. I immediately felt drawn to the active nature of physical therapy and wanted to be a bright spot for people when they were going through hard times.

Where would you like to see your PT career head after school?

I would like to see my PT career head towards athletics. One goal is to work with the U.S. Ski Team because that wasthe first sport I fell in love with, and skiing is still a very important passion of mine.

How will you still incorporate UF into your schedule?

I will find time to incorporate UF into my schedule as long as I keep my body healthy, continue to enjoy playing the game, and feel that it’s a positive competitive outlet for me.

What brought you to SoCal for USC’s DPT program?

USC’s DPT program had been on my radar since high school, so, after getting accepted into a program I had always wanted to attend, it seemed like a no-brainer.