2014 End of Year AwardsDec 31st, 2014 | By AndyBandit | Category: Awards
Right off the bat in the very first category, we have probably the one award that was the most divisive among the voters. It came down to Remy vs. Kristen “Vendetta” Pojunis. Those who supported Remy’s candidacy argued that she got noticeably better this year, and it was validated by not only making the rosters of both 7 Figures and the Bay Area’s Mischief, but that she also made Beach World’s, and did all this as a long time veteran player who is at Masters age for women. On the other side is Vendetta, who just barely started playing last year, and by the end of club season had become one of 7 Figures’ best D-line players, played for both club and college Nationals, and then cemented the year with a U23 selection. How do you choose between those two strong cases? Veteran taking a step up, or newbie becoming a star in one year. Which is more of a break-out? Well, I had to put out a LAOUT poll to settle at least the question of what a break-out is, and by a 2-to-1 ratio you all voted for the veteran taking the step up.
So that really only left the question of did Remy truly qualify for making a significant improvement in one year? Some say she’s been very good for a couple years now. Some point to the fact she won Player of the Year last year, so how do you break-out after that? And I definitely took that into account. (Player-of-the-Year, btw, is not the best player. It’s largely based on your teams’ successes.) But when determining this award, what stood out is the perception I’ve heard from people when watching Remy play this year in comparison to last year. Cross-fit certainly helped a lot. She has become a scoring machine. At TiV, she scored nearly half her team’s points. She went from being a Viva bench player in 2013 to Mischief’s leading scorer. It’s been a great year, and when she steps on that beach in Dubai in March, it will be the culmination of a long trek of hard work, determination, and desire to improve. And I know it’s inspirational to many.
This race was almost as tight as the female side. Although in this case, both players, Sean and Brandon Severson have similar situations so it wasn’t just college vs. established player. Since club players are mostly biased towards their teammates, I went with the opinion of the non 7-Figures/Renegade players in picking Sean, although it really could go either way. But I think what also won me over with Sean is a look at Facebook. He’s all over SoCal tournaments in 2013 but never playing on high level teams. I mean, he played on a very low-ranked Naughty Love team at Lei-Out in 2013. Got cut from Renegade in 2012 and didn’t even try out last year. And then he makes Renegade in 2014 and becomes their top goal scorer. That’s how you break-out! I was fortunate enough to play with him at the Beach Benefit tournament, so I got to see up close how a B Division player became a top level stud. And he definitely has that wow factor.
The team that can’t be stopped. Already owning three-straight Nationals appearances, 7 Figures went for the four-peat in spectacular fashion. Try an undefeated Triple Crown regular season for starters. That not enough? Well, what about finishing the regular season as the #2 seed in the whole entire country? Yeah, it was pretty epic. They completely rolled through Sectionals, with only one team getting within four points of them, and just spanked teams in semis and finals. The wheels started to come off in Regionals, but they recouped enough to beat regular season champ Polar Bears on Sunday to lock up another spot at Natties. It didn’t go as well in a windy Texas. However, the entirety of their season earned them this spot. Viva reached their highest point ever making the game-to-go, and I fully expect to be giving them this award next year.
The perennial Nationals qualifier failed to make the big show in 2013 when there were only two bids. But with a third bid in 2014, it came down to BLU and the USC Hellions to grab that final spot. BLU had won the three prior match-ups, which included a win at Sectionals, and another at Regionals the day before. But with all that, the UCLA/USC rivalry came down to a winner-take-all game-to-go. And BLU won it 15-7 to secure their spot. Looking forward to seeing what the rivalry brings this season.
If only Gold Room had won Summer League finals, they would’ve been the clear winner with an undefeated season. But in my opinion, you gotta win the tourney to be considered in this category. And Dune Squad won a very competitive 7-team Beach League with only one actual loss. They finished 10-2 due to being forced to forfeit to Smash Cat when they weren’t able to agree on a make-up game, and that itself didn’t go without controversy. Otherwise, the year included three wins over 4-time champion ShamWOW, including a great semi-finals game that they led throughout. Then they stopped Special Wobble’s Cinderella run (see below) to take the tournament. This was Dune Squad’s first season, and they collected an all-star team of talent, including out-of-region boyfriend Tyler Grant, to become the new face of Beach League. And their jerseys were pretty fun too.
Some tournaments are just owned by one team, and lately Dan-O-Mite owns Huck-It. They pulled the three-peat in 2014 while continuing their undefeated stretch. Originally this was a concept team of putting together all players named Dan. But it’s become clear that winning titles is more important than keeping the theme, because this year more than half of the team was not named Dan or dating a man named Dan. That’s unfortunate. But understandable. I mean, I can’t even heckle them for that when Marshall only has 5 current players who ever played pick-up at Marshall High. Pot, meet kettle.
Let’s see. Retro won their third straight B-Division title. And they had an undefeated regular season. Hmmmm. Sounds like a winner, right? Well, not if you consider that semi-finals game. Oh yeah… that. (For more on that, see Scandal of the Year.) Considering Retro needed a controversial disqualification to make it to the finals, I gotta give this award to the Mile High Club for their 12-2 season, which included a 7-0 start, three overtime wins, and a Finals revenge win over Honey Badgers.
Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. Special Wobble has played in Beach League for as long as I can remember. And they’ve always been in the mix for a title, but never quite put it together, which is surprising considering the talent they’ve had. Not only have they never won, they’ve never even been to finals before. So when they finished 5-7 this year, very few people gave them much of a chance in the tournament. Only 6% of voters said they’d win in the LAOUT poll, and those could’ve all been Wobble players for all we know. And then they pulled off the crazy upset win over #1 seed Dinosaurs on universe point. Finals for the first time. That’s a Cinderella story. Although they lost to Dune Squad, they made it a good game with two-pointers, and an early lead. And it’s also nice to get to award a team that has been making jello-shots for their opponents every single freakin’ week for years!
Can’t stop. Won’t stop. Honestly, until the seemingly exponential rise of Lei Out ends, or even slows down, it’s going to win this award. And after adding 33 more teams in 2014, it once again walks away a winner. That actually is even more amazing when you consider it was moved off of MLK weekend for the first time because of Cirque du Soleil. Despite the two-day weekend, it grew to almost a mile and a quarter in length. And the weather this year was ridiculous. Beautiful sunny 80 degrees in January the whole time. And it’s topping 275 teams for 2015. So I might as well start engraving the plaque for next year.
This is the first of two non-LA events I’m giving awards to this year, and I cringe a little as I do that, because I hate to give these LAOUT awards to things that happen outside of LA. But Santa Barbara is really close, and I’m pretty sure half the people who play in that tournament live in LA. So, I’m hoping you give me a little slack here. There were a few great performances in local league finals this year, including Kieran’s back-to-back scores in OT in Winter League finals. But nothing compares to what Kieran did with LA-based team Fire & Ice at the Classic. Although they lost to SB team Ambush Paddington, Kieran was the obvious star of the game, making defensive full extension lay-out blocks over and over again. If you blinked, you’d miss one. And he was guarding the best players on Ambush. It was a performance of the year, regardless of finals or not, and justly deserves this win.
Once again, going outside of LA. Because all the people I asked voted for this. Although it happened in Vegas, at least it was run by an LA player. (Boy, I’m stretching.) The Lei-Out party was certainly the biggest. But those who went to Drai’s roof-top Beach Club with the pool and the great views of the Vegas Strip nearly unanimously gave it high marks. The alcohol tab was almost non-existent unfortunately. Other than that, it was a lot of dancing on the roof with all those hot, scantily clad tourists, and who doesn’t love that?
Sometimes it takes a village. And in this case, it took a team of players to keep the annual Beach League pre-season tournament alive. This event has become a nice fund-raiser for Ultimate Peace, and by having an entire club team at the helm, they were able to get more sponsorships, and promote more player sign-ups, which meant more teams, and very competitive games. Personally, I’d be happy if Viva ran this every year. They did a fantastic job.
You could probably give Korb this award just for the double duty he pulls with UCLA BLU and with Viva. But that alone wouldn’t be giving him the true credit he deserves for what he accomplishes by consistently getting BLU to Nationals. (Am I crazy, did BLU not make it the one year he didn’t coach them cause he wasn’t living here? If that’s true, then c’mon people. That’s sick.) But in the two years he’s been coaching Viva he’s had a huge impact on them as well, taking them up a notch last year to their first 4th place finish and Sectionals win, and another step this year when they made it to the Game-to-Go. Maybe Korb should be coaching the Aviators. (Just kidding Frankie. Love ya!!)
What makes a play of the year isn’t necessarily the most athletic play, or the most jaw dropping. Sometimes it’s just a guy who’s played a very long time, and accomplished a feat for the first time in his life. That’s Goat. 22 years playing. Zero Callahans. Now Goat’s not much of a D player by his own admission. The term O-Line handler was invented for either players who can jack full field hucks and make insane inside-out breaks…. or it’s for guys like Goat. (In softball, this would be called First Baseman.) But on one lunch-time Monday, the day after the Beach League tournament, Goat was a tour de force on D for one glorious point. As the thrower was marked on the front corner of the end-zone, he attempted a swing pass to his teammate. But he forgot to look for Goat! Using all negative one inches of vertical (that is his term, not mine) Goat locked in on his target, and snatched that disc out of the air for what they call a “defensive score”. Bucket list check. And congrats to Goat, a great guy who always deserves to get awards for all he does for us.
There’s actually going to be two awards to the Aviators this year, but this one is a group award for the quintet of Dave Conlon, James Park, Todd Krumpe, Devin Miller and Dan Smeltzer for all they’ve done in bringing professional ultimate to LA. It’s probably the biggest news of the year, and the numbers of players who paid a fee to come tryout for the team indicated just how big a deal it was for people. The Aviators join the 26-team league and become part of the the 7-team Western Division. I’m pretty excited to go to my first professional Ultimate game. One question though. If I catch an out-of-bounds disc, do I get to keep it?
A bunch of voters wanted to give acknowledgement for the second women’s club team that formed this year. It’s not entirely crazy, cause LA has had two women’s teams before, and not that terribly long ago. But it was definitely surprising when they seemed to spontaneously come into existence midway during the club season. And also kudos to Lincoln Scott who coached the team.
A year after winning Male Player of the Year, we lose one of the best all around players and one of the nicest people to Seattle. They call him Peaches because of his rosy red cheeks, but the name could just as easily apply to his constantly smiling, always friendly demeanor. Peaches’ resume includes playing on three different teams in consecutive years that went to Nationals with BCBC, Metro and 7 Figures. He has been a club captain, college captain, coach, Summer League drafter, team organizer, and go-to person for his detailed insights on all things Ultimate. Anyone who’s played with Peaches knows his strong desire to win, but how as a teammate he supports you, challenges you, and inspires you to play to the best of your ability. He will be a big loss.
I first have to acknowledge Ellis “Lance” Beier and Katy Stanton, who both picked up a lot of votes in this category. An impressive amount for Katy considering she was only in LA for little over a year. Wendy, who unfortunately hadn’t been able to play much in her last several months in LA due to a concussion, not only captained Summer League teams and helped put together Sky Life, but she also just won the Most Spirited Player award last year. I could basically reiterate everything I said when she won that award. But y’all know how much fun she was to be around, and her constantly upbeat and excited personality. She moved to Texas with fiancee and fellow Sky Life player Jeremi Kentz and will get hitched in 2015. A foot note that Crissy Vega doesn’t yet qualify in this category until 2015, and is of course the early favorite.
Although I haven’t done couple loss before, it would just be impossible not to give props to Justin and Krista, who have been such an important staple in the Ultimate community for so long. Their Monkeys and Blow Hard travel teams went everywhere from Potlatch to Poultry Days to Pleasuretown Showdown to just about every beach tournament, even down to Mexico. They put together club teams, captained Summer League, Winter League and Beach League teams. And although for the most part they always were just on the outside of championship level, they did manage a win at Beach League, and a finals appearance at Lucky 7’s. And that’s just all the stuff I know about. In addition to all that, they also WERE the West Side party scene for years. Anyone who went to the old Penmar pick-up game could probably tell some juicy stories of what used to go on. I have heard some legendary tales. Let’s just say that particular group of friends was a bit on the incestuous side. And in terms of sideline heckling, Justin was without peer for a long time. And was certainly not above walking the sideline during finals wearing only a plastic cup and nothing else. It was an absolute honor to get to play and party with the both of them. Huge loss to LA.
This was merged from two different categories. HARD LUCK CASE OF THE YEAR and Rivalry. Because the story has a little bit of both. Of course, the long historic battle of LA teams vs. the Condors is nothing new. It probably dates back as long as Ultimate has been played in LA. And this year, when yet again the LA team lost key members to Condors, and lost the chance to pick up a couple other new LA studs who spurned their current city for Santa Barbara, it’s just the same old song playing over and over again. And yet, despite the road blocks that were put up for Renegade, they played Condors as close as you can get this year. Although they lost three of four games, two of those losses were on universe. That’s the rivalry part. Now for the Hard Luck part. That one win. It came at the West Coast Round Robin, and it was Renegade’s only win at that tournament. It may have proven costly. By defeating Condors in that game 15-11, it knocked Condors’ ranking out of the top 16, and thus lost a bid for the Southwest. Of course, it’s impossible to blame one loss for an entire season’s rankings. But the timing of the loss hurt everyone unfortunately.
If you were anywhere near Frisbee Central on Sunday at Lei-Out this year, you probably heard this song played about a hundred times. I’m going to wager that you probably still heard it a mile away on the far end. Just again and again. Not sure what team was responsible. The only thing close to this I remember was the team at One Love One Beach in San Diego a couple years ago called One Song Play List who literally played Boom Boom Pow by Black Eyes Peas on a constant loop the entire weekend until you wanted to go to town on their boom box like Danny Aeillo in Do the Right Thing. Wonder what this year’s Timber is gonna be. I’m putting in Shake It Off as the early favorite.
This is such a great story on so many levels, that it’s hard to imagine a better scandal this entire decade. And it starts with a woman named Vivien from Germany. Innocently enough she asked TD Mike Peebler if she could pick-up with a team for the tournament, as she’d be in town that week. Since the rules on the website clearly state you must play in two regular season games to be eligible, and since those rules exist for this exact reason – to stop teams from picking up out-of-town players for the tourney – it was a no brainer to turn her down, which Peebs did correctly. But you know the thing about rules… not everyone likes to follow ’em. So now you’ve got David Reed meeting her at Trouble in Vegas, telling her to go play for one of the low division teams because “no one’s really gonna care”. And armed with that knowledge she picked up on Top Shelf, who had a couple players also tell her it was fine and not a big deal.
Not a big deal… until she plays against your team, as Reed discovered when Top Shelf faced his Horizontal team in quarters. Suddenly Reed thought it was a big deal. (And later admitted the hypocrisy of that.) But they still let her play, and Top Shelf took that win into a semis match-up against Retro, the very team that TD Peebs plays on. Oh destiny. You cruel and mischievous devil you. It only took about 15 points into that game for someone on Retro to notice that she was not playing legally. And by that time, Top Shelf was already dominating the game, and on the verge of an easy win.
So many interesting things happened at this point. There’s a pretty upset TD, since his decision got ignored by this girl. There’s Top Shelf’s Chuck LaForte saying “you caught us”, and then immediately shifting blame over to Collin Rich, cause you know, he’s the “official” captain, so really it’s his fault. There’s players from Horizontal now asking if their quarters game can be replayed. And the best of all is Retro, the team who for years has refused to play in A no matter how many times they win B claiming that A is “too competitive” and “not fun enough” all getting together to make the decision to force Top Shelf to be disqualified after Retro just lost by 7 points. That’s fun. Retro went on to win in finals for their 3rd straight B Division title. Wow. Wrap your head around all that. For Peebs’ take on the whole thing, he wrote about it back in March here.
I thought this was only a controversy among captains. But then I heard that word leaked out from the ultra-secretive draft. And so I might as well expand upon it here. Trades have always been a part of the S.L. draft, but for the first time captains were allowed to trade individual slots in multiple rounds. The problem with that is it nullifies the point of a snake draft, which is supposed to ensure that a captain who picks early in the first round must pick late in the second round. The slot trades screwed that up. Through clever trades Dot got to pick early in the 2nd AND 3rd round, and Gary & Connie got to pick early in the 3rd AND 4th. In a snake draft, that’s not supposed to happen. And stupidly, I didn’t even notice the problem until like the 4th round. By then, the damage had been done. Gold and Mint got the best of the slot trades, and it was pretty obvious when they finished with the top two records and met in finals. Fear not, slot trades will no longer be allowed going forward. I’m learning my lesson.
And since we’re on the subject of trades, how about this for an awesome trade? Spike organized a roommate swap where he shipped his roomie Emma Frankel over to live with Lili Gu in exchange for Lili’s roommate Stephanie “Rigby” Pritchard, who also happens to be Spike’s girlfriend. Emma for Rigby. That’s hysterical. Such a great decision. And don’t feel bad for Emma. Granted she loses the company of the fabulous Spike. But she got to move much closer to work, and I think we can all relate to the importance of that. Forget the deal Dot made with Gary & Connie. This trade will pay off for much longer, and has more perks.
This one’s all about forfeits. And make-up games. And what counts and what doesn’t. So there were two back-to-back weeks during Beach League where teams had to forfeit due to Lucky 7’s and Aviators try-outs. And in one of the weeks, Dune Squad failed to make their game against Smash Cat. In the other, Smash Cat didn’t show for their game against Dinosaurs. Only one of these two games was made up. Kind of. Despite Dune Squad’s efforts, they couldn’t get Smash Cat to make up their game. From what I heard, some of Smash Cat’s players didn’t even know about the possible make-up, which frustrated Dune Squad players even more. But it gets better. Smash Cat was scheduled against Dinosaurs the last week of the season. Rather than play their make-up game after this one, they both agreed to count the one game as two results, with the same score.
So naturally, Dune Squad asked why they couldn’t count their already played game against Dune Squad as two games after the fact. This got into a whole question of are you obligated to make-up a forfeit, and can you just decide to play anything and count that as a game? I put out a poll on this, and although you voted that a game must be played as an Ultimate game, it was closer than I expected with about 40% of you saying that yes, you should be able to count anything as a game. If that was true, then Dune Squad and Smash Cat could in theory just flip a coin and let the results of that count. But of course, Smash Cat doesn’t have to agree to anything at all, since they weren’t the ones who forfeit.
This definitely affected the final standings, since Dune Squad’s forfeit loss and Dinosaur’s imaginary win put Dinosaurs in first place. Food for thought for the future. Probably will lead to some formalized rules about make-up games. Coming soon.
This one still screws with me, even as I was writing up a couple of these awards. Because A wasn’t really A, and B wasn’t really B. The addition of the Elite Division made everything pretty wonky. But the category name was necessary to get teams to distribute themselves evenly. You see, in 2013 when teams were asked to put themselves in A, B or C, almost nobody chose C. Like one team did. This reminded me of the old Lei-Out system several years ago. With about 180 teams having to pick Elite, Standard or Novice, 30 chose elite, 150 chose Standard, and 2 chose novice. I was certain the problem was in the category names, so I changed the names to Elite, High-Standard and Low-Standard and re-asked the question. What happened? The 150 teams that originally chose standard fell equally into the two sides. Even though it’s all just A, B and C, what you call those categories tends to determine how teams rate themselves. And since we couldn’t have just one team in C, Peebs and I agreed to turn A,B,C into Elite,A,B, and lo and behold everyone fell into categories much more evenly. In the end though, once the teams picked their division we should’ve changed the names back into A,B,C. Cause damn was it confusing to everyone.
First it was postponed. Then simply scrapped. For starters, the words “Party cancelled” might be two of my least favorite words in Webster’s. Some parties you really get excited for. Some you even plan your schedule around. And the Viva poker party, which was only in its third year of existence, had already attained that level of excellence for more than a few folks. Last year they filled the entire space with poker tables, and there’s nothing like having Viva girls serve you drinks in various states of undress. Everything has a price though, and whether you’re slurping belly shots or something even more lascivious, you best be ready to pay up for the privilege. And people sure did. Which is why if your wallet is a little heavier this year, you can credit that in part to the cancelled Viva party, and I’m not sure anyone’s happy about that.
There’s really no way to know if Los Angeles’ bid to get Beach Worlds came in second to Dubai. It may not have even been in the running for all we know. But the bid was strong, and Lei-Out certainly proves that L.A. is a totally legit place to put this prestigious event, and certainly has the space for it. And yet, the bid went to a country with practices that certainly clash with our culture including questionable restrictions on women’s clothing, internet censorship and imprisonment for homosexuality. The rumor I heard (which cannot at all be substantiated I should note, but when has that stopped me?) is that the person who made the decision wanted a free vacation in Dubai. If that’s true, that is B to the F’n S!
I don’t know if I can remember a term that was used more between players on one team that went beyond the league/tournament in which that team played. Ninja Squirtles has only existed for two years, but that “ah-Squirt” shout they do was uttered so often throughout the rest of this year, that it was impossible not to hear it. Let’s throw a quote into the quote-of-the-year write-up. Here’s Eric Brach: “You couldn’t go ANYWHERE all year without hearing this quoted EVERYWHERE. I heard it in the Santa Monica beach league bathrooms. It was written in BOTH the men’s and women’s bathroom walls in chalk at the beach league party. It was all over the sidelines at leagues, tournaments, everywhere.” Agreed.
Since I don’t know much about the college scene, I had to rely on the knowledge of those who do. And I heard that Kraken was UCLA’s best player, in a close contest with last year’s winner Nils Clauson. Nils made U23, so he could’ve gotten the back-to-back win here. But I heard more votes for Kraken, who was also invited to tryout for U23, and he played for the regular season’s #1 mixed team Polar Bears. It’s too bad we can’t keep all our great college players in-house, but the allure of that Bay Area seems to be pretty strong. Kraken was vital in UCLA winning SoCal warm-ups and he gets the nod here.
Blondie on the other hand, did play for an LA club team when she joined 7 Figures and went to Nationals with them. Although she’s already moved, so it’s another big loss of a great college player. I heard that she put USC on her back to get them from a 10 seed to a 4th place finish at Regionals. She’s a player you have to game-plan around, and despite the fact that there were several good choices from UCLA in this category, a Hellion rose above them all.
This award isn’t going to me. I didn’t write the line “I’m Andy fuckin’ Bandit”. Lili did. Inspired by Lili’s Gold vs. Mint rap recap, I mentioned to her that I wanted to do a rap at the Summer League party that encompassed everything that happened of interest during the season. She took off with this in a huge way. Originally the idea was to collaborate on it together, but when I dragged my feet and couldn’t find the time to make it happen, Lili just did it herself. In one night. Right before the tournament. And it was brilliant. She went above and beyond with 56 lines of awesomeness, including multiple options for a couple of potential winning teams, and including the final line “I’m Andy fuckin’ Bandit” that got the most votes for Quote of the Year, but I decided to add it in here instead. Lili Gu = lyrical genius.
If you haven’t seen the photo of Licious on Facebook, get ready for a treat. CLICK HERE. All year long people have kept this photo continuously active in news feeds. At the time I wrote this, there were 135 comments already. The event itself where this photo was taken happened in Beach League 2013, but the enjoyment everyone’s had with keeping it alive this year is what deserves this award. It’s really funny how Lish has vacillated between hating this photo and accepting it. In fact, she probably has gone through all five stages of illness with this pic. Multiple times.
What happened in this poll defies probability. You remember the Individual 7 on 7 Bracket Challenge I did back in March, where we pitted players against each other to see whose clones would win a game of savage. The 5th match-up of round 1 put 7 Figures’ Sophie up against Viva’s Broccoli. And although many of the match-ups went down to the wire, this one broke the mold. It was tied 63-63 as we reached the 10AM deadline. Since someone has to win each round, I waited until one more vote came in before switching to the next day’s poll. Now here’s where it gets unlikely. In order to minimize the chance of finishing in a tie, I keep two browsers open. Browser one has the current poll active. Browser two has the next poll waiting for me to hit Submit. As soon as I refresh browser one and see one more vote, I immediately click Submit on browser two.
So that’s what happened. Refresh browser 1. Sophie wins 64-63. Immediately hit submit on browser 2. And in the 1 to 2 seconds it took for me to move my finger over to the Submit button, another vote came in for Broccoli. 64-64 tie. Do you know what the chances of that are? Well, I’ll tell you. Considering there were 128 votes in one day, or 86,400 seconds, the chances of this happening are approximately 0.2%. Sophie pulls the official win. But when you look in the poll archives, you’ll see they’re tied. Now you know why.
This year, between Winter League and Summer League, 67 players wrote recaps. That’s a record. 15 women wrote recaps. Also a record. One of those was a player’s mom! In total we wrote 187 recaps. This makes me so proud, and I want to again thank everyone who contributed. Even if it was just one.
11 people wrote a minimum of five recaps each, and I decided this would be my bench-mark for considering Recapper of the Year. Of this group, I have to give it to Thies. Because not only did he write more recaps than anyone else this year, he had the distinction of writing by far the most recaps of games he didn’t play in. AND on top of that he included stats for the games he saw. That is a huge effort and should be acknowledged. Turns out not having a job gives you a lot of free time, and Thies used that to support the community in a really fun way.
You know, it’s tough to beat a video. I’m not saying that only a video could win the first of these two awards. But considering all the clever and interesting ideas we got, including poetic recaps and photo-based recaps, as far as raising the bar goes, Lili and Kumbha certainly did it. This game was already a big deal before it was even played because the two-teams combined to have one of the top 5 best winning percentages in Summer League history. They were 1 and 2 in the standings. And they orchestrated the slot-trade at the draft which helped both of them somewhat unfairly. So there was a lot on the line already. Lili and Kumbha figured why not raise it to epic proportions? This also won video of the year in a tight race over Lili’s other great video for her team Reign. Shirtless Airport Video I like to call it.
For sheer ludicrousness, I have to give Cam the award for what he wrote about Renegade’s August tournament in Washington. Predicting 15-0 victories for every single game, and including as little useful information about each opponent as possible, Cameron brought Ultimate a little bit into the surreal. And added a little flavor to a tournament that I’m pretty sure was making its debut.
I know absolutely nothing about this. When he did this. What he did it for. Only heard it when I asked people for award suggestions. But it’s possible my world has been changed forever. This is the link I was given. https://drive.google.com/file/
Technically the first Level Up clinic happened in December 2013, but there were only two of them before the new year, with the majority happening in 2014. Grant Boyd spearheaded this fantastic idea to help players take the next step in their game. Whether you’re an elite player who wants to hone your skills to control games, or you’re an intermediate who wants to get to elite level, there are so many ways this program can help players. With top level guest lecturers, and Grant’s interesting choices of restricting nick-names and club jerseys, Level Up had a lot going on. It didn’t take long before you saw Level Up gear everywhere. And with the addition of a beginner course this November, it’s already expanded.
It takes a lot these days to pull the wool over someone’s eyes ON April Fool’s Day. Especially with Facebook out there, cause by 8AM this year there were already a couple dozen obvious gags going around on social media. So if you’re gonna fool people, it’s gotta be plausible, even if a little ridiculous. And this year’s April 1st LAOUT rumor was the merging of club open team Renegade and club women’s team Viva. I’m sure most people figured out the joke pretty quickly. But I know for a fact that there were several people completely fooled for a short period of time, and that’s all you can ask for.
At the Ultimate Peace fundraiser, a live auction was done to raffle off some pretty cool prizes donated by players. It included lessons on how to throw a forehand, life advice, just general guidance, and a few tangible items as well. But the funniest and best of all the gifts was when AJ offered to allow someone to D him at some point during the year. That’s pretty ballsy cause a league player could’ve won that and requested the D at a pivotal point in a tournament game. As someone who plays on a lot of AJ’s teams, I was a little nervous about that. And I guess that’s why it’s all the more shocking that the auction winner was Matt Bunsen, whose only real chance to claim his prize would be during a pick-up game. For the record, the winning bid was $230. And to the best of my knowledge, I’m not even sure if Matt’s gotten the D yet.
Every club team this year changed their jerseys, so there were a lot of options to choose from in this category. But for my money, can you really beat anything rainbow? The intention was to buy 5 Ultimate’s new Rainbow jerseys for one team in Summer League. But wouldn’t you know it, they ran out of jerseys, and the only time they could guarantee getting new ones was the week after the tournament. So the team voted and switched to shorts, being the first Summer League team ever to have shorts instead of jerseys. It got even crazier cause then they didn’t have enough of the sizes needed, so half a dozen players had to take the wrong size. If only the rainbow shorts didn’t eat up roughly a quarter of the overall jersey budget.
Apparently this is what happens when you let your hair grow for two years uncut. You eventually look like a homeless man. And perhaps that’s the look Brian was going for. But apparently this was done for a good cause as he claims, since he was donating it to the Devil-Hair Project, a non-profit run by Ozzy Osbourne that helps balding rock stars. Is that a real thing? Not sure. But it all adds into the mystery that is Brian. He has since cut it, and thus is already out of the running for 2015.
I might as well just call this Ubiquitous Female Player of the Year, because that’s what it always is. And probably that’s how it should be. Every year some new girl rolls into town, and becomes the IT girl of LAOUT. At all the parties. At all the tournaments. And often creating their own bit of juicy scandals. Amy encompassed all of this in such a short period of time. And if you know even half of her list of gossip-y tales (and I like to think I know maybe half) then she wins this award hands down. But with her winning a spot on Viva, she also earns a second win.
NEW FEMALE PLAYER IN TOWN OF THE YEAR. Turns out she’s also a really good player. So on top of being the life of the party, she manages to pull down both awards, which I believe is the first time the same person has accomplished this.
Our next winner also won two awards this year. Blitzkrieg is a great choice for newcomer in town. He played on two AUDL teams in the East before moving to LA this year, and came just in time to make Summer League, which created a lot of question marks for the drafters. Obviously with his track record, he should be a first rounder. But where in the first round do you take an unknown talent? As luck would have it, he fell to the perfect team, Woz’s pink team. That’s when we first learned his other gift. Costumes. Or sometimes, as apparently in this photo, his lack thereof. Thus he also wins:
COSTUMED PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Instead of Costume of the Year, I’m giving him an overall award for his collection of onesies, tutus and sometimes just plain underwear. Blitz has been a perfect addition to the LA scene, both as a great player who skies fools regularly, for his dirty dancing skills and because you never know what he’ll show up in at any moment.
There were so many good choices this year. SO MANY!!! I had written down a list of about a dozen contenders, and I felt if any of them had won, I would’ve been happy. I was feeling for a long time that Julie Groth and Tim Teitsworth had the inside-track. But it’s possible that was my bias for my not-at-all-secret crush on Julie. (I should not write these awards while drinking.) When I put this award out to the voters, I understand it has an inherent club-team bias, so fantastic couples such as Joanna & Snatch, Koo & Sparta, Nay & Reed, to name a few don’t get the same recognition among the voters, who are mostly club players. But I have to say Brandon and Cortez were truly deserving this year. Okay, first of all, they’re both ridiculously cute on their own. Then you put them together, and magic happens. There’s a lot of swooning. I’ve caught them just staring at each other. So adorable. And according to Licious, Brandon came to almost all of Cortez’s Summer League games to support her. Damn, do I love this award. It’s my favorite award all year. New couples are so much fun. Who’s next???
This is so deserving it should’ve happened the first year I did this award. Trevor does so much work for LAOUT including what he does for the Lei-Out tournament and as the TD of Huck-It-Long Beach. But his winning personality is undeniable. Is he ever not smiling? Is he ever not having a fun time, and making it more enjoyable for people around him? He’ll completely go out of his way for you. And as far as actual “spirit”, as in SOTG he’s at the top of the list. You never see him get into drag down arguments over anything. He just plays the game hard, fairly, and afterwards parties with you like you didn’t just compete for 90 minutes.
You could probably give Dave the BTS person of the last three to four years, cause I think that’s how long he’s been working on getting the AUDL’s Los Angeles Aviators to reality. Dave is the main man behind bringing the dream to life, and he did a terrific job finding a group of devoted partners. Now he finally gets to see the team play their first game in 2015. It takes a lot of effort, way more than most people realize, to make things like this happen. So thank you Dave for putting in the effort to bring professional Ultimate to LA.
PHOTO OF THE YEAR – Evan Valdes (St. Pat’s Hat)
For photo of the year, it’s almost always some amazing lay-out catch or amazing D. And believe me, those are great choices, and will win in the future many times. But occasionally, I think this award should go to a photo that so utterly captured the essence of the tournament in which it happened. And nothing more effectively showed the all out dirty environment that was St. Pat’s Hat’s this year. Those fields blew up dust the whole weekend. So when Evan made this huck attempt in finals, none of us were shocked by the dust cloud it produced. It was just an incredible attempt, and a perfectly timed photo. You can barely even see him. He’s like a ghost behind all that dirt.
I had to show one more great photo from the year, cause this one just makes no sense at all, and you just have to keep staring at it to really understand it.. This is Zazu after a pull. Okay, how is her body doing that? She’s like one of those bendy toys. The hair in the face only adds to the greatness of this pic. But the physical impossibility going on here is indescribable. I feel like I saw a zombie do this in a horror movie once. I’m pretty sure you would end up in the hospital with something out of its socket if you ever tried to duplicate this. Kids, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!
This is an award that goes to someone who I felt went above and beyond during the year, and although Jeff has been doing that for a long time, this year it was particularly noteworthy. In addition to everything he does for Ultimate Peace on a regular basis, he put together a fundraiser party for U.P. at Dave Knight’s house which was a great success. He also helped with the Beach Benefit tournament. And in particular he made several really moving speeches at that tournament, at St. Pat’s and at the fundraiser where he held moments of silence for beloved Sarah VanWagenen. Jeff continues to be a valued and important member of the community, and I’m honored to present him this award.
We’ve been really lucky that for the last few years, we’ve gotten some of the best Winter League finals that we’ve ever seen. The 2013 finals between AFO and Ninja Squirtles was so good, no team had more than a one point lead the entire time until the last point of the game. And the 2012 finals included a 13-7 come-from-behind win in overtime for Entanglement. 2014 might have bested them both. It had everything you want in a finals. A big comeback. Multiple late lead changes. And a universe point. Ninja was the returning champions. Marshall hadn’t won since 2008. And after a grueling 5-team Elite Division where every regular season game was a brutal challenge, the finals came down to the wire. Marshall held a 12-8 lead when Ninja called a time-out, and started a big comeback that was eerily similar to the one Entanglement pulled two years before. Ninja took the lead at 15-14 and 16-15, when Marshall’s Kieran Kelly took over, scoring the final two points of the game to give Marshall a stunning 17-16 win.
What happens when a team that’s 1-7 faces a team that’s 6-0? You can usually predict that one pretty easily. The only question is what’s the point-spread gonna be. Now, there was nothing on the line for either team when they faced off on the final day of the regular season. The standings were already locked in place. But Kong was definitely shooting for the undefeated season. Sky Life was no slouch. Their record was basically the result of no teams below them requesting to play in Elite. And as we know, no matter where you draw the line on A/B or B/C, there’s always going to be a worst team. It just depends on where the cut-off is. So Sky Life had the ability to beat Kong. They had done it just the year before. But still, based on record alone, it was a pretty big upset. How much impact the loss had on Kong, since it happened two days before the tournament where they would lose in semi-finals, we’ll never know for sure.
Black must’ve been too cocky as they headed into the tournament with their #1 seed. OR… they were really hurt by the fact that three of the Renegade/Oxy players couldn’t make the tournament. That’s probably it. Well, they were facing the bottom seed in quarters to open things up, and then watched as the first half went about as wrong as possible. Blue grabbed a 7-2 lead and was going for the big upset, when things really started to click for Black. They managed to not only pull even with Blue, but they pulled off the 14-12 overtime win. And propelled by that success, they made it to finals before finally feeling the effects of all those Oxy kids having something better to do with their day.
This is really sad because three years ago this won the Innovation of the Year Award. And that quickly… it was gone. Goaltimate had a thriving pick-up scene in 2010, which is what led to the formation of the league. But several factors, which may include the existence of the league itself, put a near end to pick-up Goaltie. The timing of the league was difficult since it coincided with the start of the club tryout season. And perhaps the fact that only one team won in its three year history led to its downfall. Maybe one day it will return, but for now it appears to be an LA dinosaur.
Yes, I’m well aware I’m not including their last names, nor a photo of them. Why? Reasons. Connie and Gary’s seasons started apart, but much like their relationship, it came together as the year went on. They co-captained The Mint to a Summer League victory. Then went to Nationals together with 7 Figures after their perfect regular season and Sectionals blow-out. And they ended the year with a finals appearance with Special Wobble in Beach League. Not too shabby.
Connie alone had a fabulous year. She opened it by winning Winter League with Marshall. And in the same month she made semis in the Female 7 on 7 Bracket Challenge poll where she lost a close match to eventual champion Alice Chen. And that all happened before she accomplished all the stuff with Gary mentioned above. So to recap, WL win, SL win (for a team she co-drafted), BL finals, Nationals appearance. That’s a pretty solid year.
Jeez, what DIDN’T Evan do this year? As far as I know, he’s the only person who’s ever won Winter League, Summer League, Beach League and St. Pat’s Hat in the same year. The grass Triple Crown is WL, SL and SPH. He already accomplished that by August. But with the addition of Beach League, that’s some sort of Grand Slam. If you count Lei-Out, BL and Huck-It as the sand Triple Crown, and you combine the two crowns, then you have the LA Sextet. Or Sexcapade. Or Sixsational. Whatever it’s called, it’s gotta be the most impossible to accomplish feat in LA. Evan got 4 of the 6 legs. The day someone hits 5 I hope I’m still playing Ultimate, and if anyone ever gets all 6, I swear I’ll throw them a parade. Even if I’ve long since stopped playing. You can quote me.
So there you go. I hope you all enjoyed the awards. You’re welcome to argue with me in the comment section, or just simply give someone who won an award a much deserved “Great Job!” Thanks to those who helped me out in the award selections. It was a great 2014, and I’m looking forward to another fun year!