2015 End of Year AwardsJan 11th, 2016 | By AndyBandit | Category: Awards
Heist started on UCLA BLU her freshman year with huge hucks, even though she’d barely played much ultimate. She is fast and athletic, and quickly became one of the team’s best throwers and receivers. After her freshman year, she played on a not-very-competitive women’s club team in the Bay Area, where they relied a lot on her growing skills. This past year, as a sophomore she was one of the main handlers and cutters on BLU. Towards the end of the season she learned how to put touch on her throws, which really took her to the next level. She made her first notable LAOUT appearance at Beach League 2014 with Special Wobble when they made finals, but it was this year she truly broke out. She was an essential part of BLU’s success this year. She then tried out, and made 7 Figures, where she became a starter.
Mikey is going to be a junior this year. He’s captaining USC men and really helping to turn around the program along with the other captains and Gary Molano as coach. Mikey played with the US junior worlds team in high school, so he hasn’t really come out of no where. He’s never played club in LA before. But once he came out to 7 Figures tryouts he was a clear standout. He was gone for the early part of the summer, but he plugged in right away and was great. He started on the O line for 7 Figures and was nicknamed “the big fundamental” because he does everything well. Very conservative and consistent as a player.
There was some disagreement over what constituted a Club Team, since USAU has Beach listed as a separate division from Club. I consider this a semantics point. For the purposes of this award, a club team is a team competing for Nationals in any division. Certainly, due to the small number of participating teams , and lack of qualifying tournaments, Beach Nationals doesn’t have the same clout as its grass counterparts. So if Point Break finished in semis, it wouldn’t be considered as impressive as one of the grass teams merely making Nationals and finishing in last place. But none of the LA grass teams even made it to the game-to-go this year. And Point Break won Beach Nationals. That was fantastic for LA, since it was the first time in 26 years that any team with Los Angeles as it’s location won a Nationals tournament in any division.
UCLA Women’s continues to be the standout program in the LA college scene for either gender. In 2014 they made it to Nationals by winning the game-to-go for the third bid. This year, they pulled off the same trick, but did it for the second bid. But they came into Nationals as the #3 overall seed. Unfortunately, Nationals proved to be a surprising event where they lost two games in pool play, including a shocking upset to #19 seeded Texas, which took them out of the championship bracket. That doesn’t take away from a fantastic year though and a well deserved win here. They had the Breakout Player of the Year in Heist and the College Female Player of the Year in Radar. And that doesn’t even count U23 player Vendetta.
This was down to the wire between Winter League’s Ninja and Beach League’s Dune Squad. In the survey I put out, it went back and forth all week, and Ninja pulled it out by just one vote. They went 7-1 in the regular season under Dynamic Scheduling, but played the hardest schedule and dominated the RRI ranking for the regular season. It was ridiculous. No other team was even close. Their +56 point diff. is in the top 10 all-time in the recorded era for Winter League teams. And they literally blew through the tournament. They more than doubled everyone else’s score. To the point that a big talking point during the party was whether or not Ninja Squirtles was TOO good for the league.
In what may very well be the last year of Lucky 7’s, the entire tournament this year was made up of teams from Los Angeles and Las Vegas only. And since 71% of the teams were from LA, let’s just call it an LA tournament on a school trip. Three Beers Down was defending their title, and poked a little fun at the TD who mistakenly wrote Three BEARS Down on the schedule last year. So this year several players dressed in some version of bear costumes. Well played. Despite nearly losing two very close games early in the day, including almost blowing it to the second to last seed, they finished pool play 6-1, after having to play 5 games on Saturday, and made an easy run of it in finals.
You kind of have to laugh at this one. If I had to say what was the biggest reason I moved from multiple divisions to one division with Dynamic Scheduling this year, Retro would probably be the #1. The team that consistently wins B Division and then refuses to move up to A. Three times they won B from 2012 to 2014, including using a disqualification to get them the title, and they still didn’t want to go to A this year. I keep using the analogy of someone conquering level one on a video game, and not wanting to play level two. Just keep beating the first one over and over. Like OCD almost. So Dynamic Scheduling was created to remove divisions from the regular season, and in the tournament you would play until you either won A, or fell into another division. This is what ultimately happened with Retro. They fell into B division and then won it. For the 4th straight time. Amazing. They beat the system and ended up exactly where they wanted to be. I tip my hat to you. The puppet master becomes the puppet.
One thing I always need for Summer League is captains for Men’s. Some years I’ve pulled a few teeth. This year I felt bad about Ben Potash not getting into Co-ed, and then to add insult to injury, I asked him to captain a Men’s team. Ben hadn’t captained in 13 years, had a sub-.500 record when captaining, and didn’t even live in LA for a small period of time recently. He was understandably concerned about taking the job. So I agreed to let him co-captain with Lance Larson. Lance co-captained nine years ago, and that team went 3-8. Maybe not a recipe for success, and early returns on the year we’re less than stellar. After five weeks, they were 2-3, sitting close to last place, having just lost to a winless team. That’s when suddenly their fairy Godmother showed up, and everything changed. They reeled off 7 straight wins, and they finished the job by winning the tournament. Midnight never struck for the Tokers. No pumpkins. Just an incredibly impressive ride to the top.
This award has been dominated by Lei Out every year. And it continues to grow, nearing 300 teams in 2015 (and more this coming year). But because of the disaster at the party, and increased rules on alcohol, and the fact that the best teams were mostly practicing for Beach Worlds, I’d like to change things up this year and award a newer, much smaller tournament, down in Long Beach started by Tara George to raise funds to fight Charcot-Marie-Tooth disorder. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to attend, so this is what Licious told me: “The coolest thing to me was that the typical cliques were broken up during this tournament and we got to see a lot of mixing and matching throughout teams. There were LA/LB mixed teams, Noho/Hermosa, Pasadena/LB, current CSULB students, lots of their alumni on a VFA-type team, etc. It was well-organized… there was a ton of food, tourney party, and raised a decent amount of money for this foundation.”
Only twice in my life have I been in a tournament where I didn’t want to advance past the game I was playing. The first was in horrendous cold/wind/rain/hail at Regionals in Colorado 2008. The second was semis in Summer League. The 106° heat with rare LA humidity in Pomona was something I haven’t personally experienced before. According to USAU guidelines we shouldn’t have even been playing. There was a Fire Marshall on hand for God’s sake. And yet, in finals, there were some players out there who you’d have no idea it was that hot out. Most notably were Andy Dunn and Maggie Griffin on the Red team. But the best player in that game was on the losing side. Blue’s Dory was everywhere. She had what would be considered an amazing game even in normal conditions. But add in the scorching temps, and what she did stood above anything else we saw in a finals this year. (Foot note: Broccoli did an awesome impression of her as she accepted the award on her behalf at the Banquet.)
This is an award that the Lei Out party should always win, but the fact that it has disappointed several times has opened the field to other competitors. And so, Summer League’s party at Character’s Sports Bar in Pomona takes the crown this year for the best party thrown there since that one where a half dozen people crawled out of the bar and passed out. The lap dance competition and make out contests were some of the best we’d seen. Viva did a raffle. And Lili Gu surprised everyone when she came back from Seattle to write another tournament rap.
Woz has only been in LA for four years, but in that short time she has made a huge impact running leagues, running tournaments, coaching college teams, organizing events for both LAOUT and USAU, captaining teams for leagues and tournaments, and also being a party coordinator. I mean what hasn’t she done? And this year it’s important to note that she presided over the only league, Women’s League that gained in numbers this year, when all other leagues and tournaments were seeing lower participation. She was also a key organizer of Viva’s women’s tourney held in LA (the LA Invitational) and now she’ll be serving as the Chairperson of the LAOUT Board.
It’s hard enough being a college coach, but Korb (Dr. Korb to you) does both college for UCLA BLU and club for Viva. BLU is where he really shined though, getting UCLA to a 17-6 regular season record, and the #3 seed at Nationals. It’s really impressive that he moved away from LA, came back, and hasn’t missed a beat, keeping UCLA as one of the most prominent teams in all of college Ultimate. And he did all this while writing a book that made it on the best-sellers list. Can you say over-achiever?
We have been given an awesome treat this year. One thing that was sorely missing was a witty, and cleverly sarcastic take on Ultimate. Lots of people write good articles on the subject, but having a comic strip to parody the foibles of athletes and rules, and clothing, and comparing Star Wars to Ultimate… well you can only find that at Contested Strip. (Which is a fantastic name, by the way.) Bacon and Rho have created something so great, you look forward to the next one coming out like the next episode of your favorite TV show. They’re at times laugh out loud, inspiring, bitingly satiric and just plain goofy. Kudos for bringing a much needed art form to the sport.
The new Triple Crown Tour system of USAU has flaws. But what makes it particularly subject to scrutiny is the fact that you can have a region with only one team securing a bid to Nationals. In a division where San Francisco’s Revolver is the dominant unstoppable favorite, it’s necessary for Southwest Men’s to get at least one more bid, or face a nearly impossible road to Texas. The best chance for that second bid came from the Santa Barbara Condors, who it would turn out finished in a dead heat with the Kansas City Prairie Fire for the final spot in RRI. Prairie Fire at 1685.7 and the Condors at 1685.4. A third of a point separated the two. If common sense was included in the equation, it would be noted that the Condors beat Prairie Fire head-to-head. Twice. But since that’s not taken into account at all, the North Central region would get a third bid, and the Southwest was left with one. That’s gotta leave a bad taste in your mouth. No system is flawless of course, but it feels a little unfair to lose a bid to the team you beat twice, especially when the TCT format doesn’t let many other teams in the Region have a chance to play Revolver, which could’ve helped their own RRI simply by playing them.
Who couldn’t love Bobo? I think what’s awesome about Bobo is how he only got into Ultimate very recently and has become one of the more endearing players in the LA scene. Always smiling, always trying to enjoy himself, and as I can personally attest, a very good kisser. He won New Cute Couple of the Year in 2013, and just exudes fun wherever he goes. It’s rare that an award like this goes to someone who wasn’t either a dominant club player or an organizer, but Bobo wins on personality and spirit. Like so many other LA players, he went off to the Bay Area. They keep snatching them away.
Speaking of moving to the Bay Area, Crissy left at the beginning of 2015, and it has not been the same without her. Crissy was an LA staple. A unique presence who helped to mold what the community was about. And she did this while making an incredible personal transformation from a controversial opponent to one of the best teammates ever. Culminating as a Spirit Award winner at Nationals. Crissy was a big part of women’s ultimate in LA, including running the Women’s League. She captained teams in every league. Her Sandy Cracks team was quintessentially Crissy, from the big booty shake with the plastic butt to the cheers they regularly produced. Playing on one of Crissy’s tournament teams was guaranteed to be a fun ride, and she never had problems finding teammates to join her. She was one of LA biggest personalities and will be sorely missed.
You know how you create a rivalry? Schedule a third of all your games against one opponent. Even more so, just put four of the last five games of the season against them. Sure, geographically it makes the most sense when you’ve gotta pay for your players’ travel. It just looks a little odd when you end the season pretty much playing in your own two-team division. Still, these two were about as evenly matched as you can get. San Diego took the series 3 to 2, and every game was close. Three of the games were decided by 1 or 2 points. Neither team made the playoffs, so there’s still room for this rivalry to advance to the next level and put a post-season spot on the line.
It was a Summer League game between Blue Sage and Purple Urkle in Co-ed on a Wednesday that was already a struggle to find space on crowded Petit Park when all of a sudden a softball landed in the middle of the game. We’re of course no strangers to dealing with softballers and their personal space issues but these guys caused a big fuss about the field dimensions. They started throwing around the word “permit”, and Chuck LaForte called me to verify they did actually have a permit. Now I was told by Valley Municipal Sports there would be no softball at Petit Park while we were playing, but could Valley Muni screw up and double book us? Yeah, absolutely. So we gave in and moved for them, only to find out later that no, they were filthy stinkin’ liars. Best epilogue was when the sprinklers went on during their game and Sparta yelled “I think your permit just expired!”
Remy was previously on Viva’s roster in 2013. And last year she was ready to make the transition to Co-ed when she made the roster of 7 Figures. That was, before leaving to play with boyfriend Tyler Grant on San Francisco’s Mischief. In effect, she left both LA club teams last year. That decision could’ve come into play this year. Despite the fact that by the end of 2014 she had been Mischief’s top goal scorer at Nationals, won Breakout Player of the Year by a LAOUT poll, and much more impressively was selected as a US representative on Beach Worlds, she did not make it onto the roster of 7 Figures or Viva. But you know what, nbd. Because a couple days later she got onto Blackbird, another bay area team, and scored a personal triumph when Blackbird won Southwest Regionals, and made it to Nationals.
The best fights usually involve a taser, right? This one did. Beat that! It was after the Winter League party at the Rec Room in North Hollywood, when pretty much everyone else had gone home and the place was nearly empty. Seth, AJ, PVP and Cubby were among the last remaining, and to amuse themselves PVP tried to grab Seth’s nipples. Seth retreated, accidentally tripping and knocking over a chair. That got the attention of the security guards, who clearly had nothing better to do, so they tried to kick our boys out. Cubby and PVP stood their ground, refusing to go, and the guard pulled out that taser, threatening to use it. Cubby dared the guy to tase him, and boy would that have made the story even better, but unfortunately he called the guy’s bluff. Noone got tased, but they did finally leave. And then PVP and Cubby fought each other in the parking lot after. One of the best stories of the year.
Technically the winner of this award is USAU for electing Gags to the Ultimate Hall of Fame. But I’d rather give the award to him. He won College Nationals with the Condors. Was a part of Polo Club and Iguanas, the first ever LA based club team to go to Nationals. Had an astounding 93 of 95 completions at finals in 1990. And is also credited as the inventor of the modern day Scoober, which was then known as the Gag, named after him of course. Oh, and he also won LA Winter League with Damn.
I originally was going to place this in the category of Good Decision, but considering how it all turned out, it definitely wasn’t good. Replacing injured Summer League players is always difficult, because you’ve gotta make sure the replacement is at equivalent level to the player lost. So when Dot and Fei’s Platinum team and Fish and Annie’s Black team tried to get Thud and Emma respectively as replacements for lower draft picks, they knew it wouldn’t fly. That’s when they got a little creative. Originally, they suggested Thud and Emma play with an eye patch, and only using their off-hand. Seemed funny, but the eye patch is kind of dangerous since your depth perception is blocked. So instead it was agreed upon that they’d both play with an oven mitt on their dominant hand, and drink three beers immediately before the start of the tournament. They also switched teams. It’s fair to say that none of this helped either team’s cause as both Platinum and Black lost their first round.
For as good and as large as the Lei Out tournament is, it’s definitely had its share of party complications. Remember when Monsoon got shut down in the middle of the night? Last year though probably takes the cake, since it felt like a majority of players never made it in, and some didn’t even show up yet by the time it was shut down. Putting the party on the pier could’ve been a brilliant idea, but a lack of security and organization caused its downfall. As players simply hopped the flimsy rope that nobody was guarding in several sections to get in, the end was noticeably near. Here’s hoping for a better solution in 2016.
Kraken is a two-time back-to-back winner in this category. He captained UCLA this past year, and carried a lot of the weight on offense for the team. He won a Second Team All Region award. He’s a very aggressive thrower and an explosive athlete. Super talented. He also made notable contributions both on his club team 7 Figures, and on the AUDL team the Aviators. In the on-line survey, he was the runaway winner of this award and clearly has a very bright future ahead.
This vote was incredibly close between three UCLA women. Only two votes separated Vendetta, Heist and Radar, but Radar secured the most votes to take the title. She started playing BLU as a sophomore after being a walk on to the UCLA cross-country team her freshman year. After her first year on BLU she made Viva, and quickly became a key player, particularly at deep-deep. This really helped her performance Junior year, but unfortunately, she broke her wrist at club tryouts before Nationals and couldn’t play, and it took her out for Club too. Her senior year in 2015 she was a captain of BLU and joined the All Star Ultimate Tour. This past club season she played on the Bay Area team American BBQ. She is very outgoing and supportive, and a great example of spirit of the game.
If you were there at the Summer League party this year and saw the Lap Dance competition, you remember this very well. This is always a fun annual event, but Micah came in and took it up a notch above anything we’ve seen since Jim Klimek did a flip into Powski’s lap. We might as well call him Magic Micah, because his moves were XXL level. Channing Tatum would’ve blushed. There was like a cat-type move in there, and some other moves I can’t really explain. I don’t know. It was NSFW for sure. Buster was the lucky recipient and afterwards she admitted getting a little hot and bothered, and who could blame her.
Tough to top something that winds up on ESPN’s Top 10 plays. On June 21st, the Aviators played the Vancouver Riptide at Occidental College. And the highlight play of the game was a Dan Bellinger huck from the sideline that appeared to go too far beyond streaking cutter Jeff Silverman. But #19 was about to do something nobody could believe. Jumping and twisting, a catch with his right hand might’ve been easier, but because the disc came over his left shoulder, he was able to contort his torso backward enough to extend his left arm up and snatch the disc with his fingertips directly over his head and slam to the ground in spectacular fashion. The Aviators would go on to win 27-20. And that was the play everyone was talking about.
The poll on May 4 was about field rage. And the results were somewhat surprising. 52% of the voters said they had been involved in a shouting match over a call. Over half. I was stunned. 24% said they refused to play the rest of a game because of someone. 9% said they caused someone to cry. Those may sound like low numbers to some of you, but they were higher than I was expecting. I think the biggest surprise was that 33% of players admitted they purposely fouled someone hard. That got a couple comments going on the website, and I got emails from players about that. As much as Spirit of the Game is an overriding concept, people are still people and competition can get the better of you at times.
Once again, we got a great collection of recappers to give us results of all the Winter League and Summer League games. I loved reading all of them. No matter how long or short. And this year I had to call out Spike for the recaps he did for Ninja Squirtles this Winter League. Only one line of text. Just animation. But they were always fun and made me laugh. It was always a Squirtle beating another animal or object in combat. Sometimes the simplest ideas can be the best. Here’s a couple of the ones he did. Here and here.
On Wednesday, August 5, Platinum OG played Red Cross, in what I had billed as the Game of the Year in Summer League. It had all the elements you want. Platinum and Red were both coming into the game at 9-0, which was the latest in a season that any two undefeated Summer League teams had met. And it featured the potential breaking of a record. Fei Zang was going for her 23rd consecutive win as a captain. She was already tied with Frankie Rho. (And in what was one of the controversial storylines of the year, also presumably tied with her boyfriend Dot for the same record, until it was pointed out that Dot was technically no longer on his 2013 team when the record began.) Unfortunately, the game itself proved to be anti-climactic because several of Red’s top players missed the game and Platinum easily won 15-8. But Dot provided the recap and alluded to the 6 minute Snap Chat recap that Helen “Sparta” Yuan made that really puts the cherry on top of this whole thing. You can click HERE to relive the magic.
This came about very late in the year, but will turn out to be a very significant step for LAOUT. Mostly because one person has been acting as president, treasurer, field coordinator, web person and a host of other responsibilities, and the community is much better served with a collection of players who get together regularly to create ways to make Ultimate in LA better than it’s ever been. So now an 11 member board has been assembled and already new programs are being created, and we will turn this into growth of the sport in Tinsel Town.
In an effort to support the first year Aviators, Viva got involved. I mean really involved. If you even went to one game this year you felt their presence. At the ticket booth, at the entrance, selling merchandise, cheering loudly. They even created Viviators shirts and hats. A few of them went so far as to date Aviators, although that may not have had much to do with the team. Just interesting. So as an expression of gratitude, several players on the red and black gave their 2015 salaries to the Viva ladies. Now, of course we’re not talking NBA salaries here. But even still, it was a great show of appreciation for all the hard work and the time that the ladies gave in their weekends to help out. Actually, the more you think about it, maybe it’s Viva who should be getting this award.
The very first home game for the Los Angeles Aviators was a spectacle. A who’s who of the community. Big crowds continued to go throughout the season, but that first game was the must see event of the year. There were quite a few people who came to throw their support towards individuals players, and none so more than the group of Irvine female college players who Allen coached. They showed up with giant photo cutouts of Allen’s head, and it was hysterical. Every time he got on the field, they held those things high in the air (probably blocking the view of the people behind them, but I didn’t hear any complaints) and they screamed their lungs out. That is some serious support.
In case you wanted to see more of Trevor Smith’s thighs – and you did – then these shorts were candy for your eyes. Understanding that the beach is meant for less clothing, not more, Dune Squad found a way to show off more tan lines than a nudist colony. (Well… because they don’t have any.) Already the Dune Squad logo was one of the most fun jerseys and nearly won this category last year. But it’s nice to see shorts win this for the second straight year. Ironically though, despite how much skin the thigh high shorts showed, it’s still more clothing that Blitz is used to wearing. He might as well have been in pants.
A great award. This one started with the immortal Chad fro, and has gone through the WuHawk, and even Brian Kuhn won it. But the award has always been given to someone with amazing stuff up top. It’s about time we shuffle things up and award a luxorious undergrowth. Box’s beard grew to impressive lengths. And for all its girth, it never went into the homeless area that so many bushy monstrocities can succumb to. No, he kept it looking good. Appearing more like a mid 1900’s presidential candidate than the guy washing your car window at the gas station for a few quarters.
I should first mention that I didn’t once play Mini this year. But I heard about it a lot, and I saw several emails going back and forth with people trying to organize Mini pick-up games. That’s a first as far as I can remember. Also, I’ve never even really called it Mini before. I thought it was just called 3-on-3 or 4-or-4 make-it-take-it when you don’t have enough players to play a full-size game. But I know it’s been a staple of some teams’ tryout schedules. The other interesting note is apparently it’s been called Minis a lot, which seems to drive some other players a little bonkers. And here’s a fun tidbit. According to Ultipedia, there is also a Mini song, which you can find here.
This might be my favorite award, given out to the person who is either new to LA, or simply new to the LA Ultimate scene, and then is suddenly everywhere, in all the leagues, at all the events, at all the best parties…. essentially very visible. This award has only ever been given out to women, and this year the trend continues. (One person even jokingly referred to this as the Sam Treu Ubiquitous Player of the Year Award. So apt.) Creamer got here late in 2014 from Kansas, and was already on a LA Lucky 7’s team seemingly as fast as you could say Angelyne. And then played in just about every single LA league and tournament. Adding to the awesomeness of course is that her fiancé’s last name is Frisby. She was meant to win this award.
Shereen came over from Austin, TX where she played at Nationals multiple times as a captain of Showdown. This year she joined 7 Figures and was one of the best overall players, male or female, on that team. Great thrower, great decision maker, and she’s great in the air. When she rolled her ankle prior to Regionals, it was a big hit to the team. She then also helped to put together a team for Lucky 7’s that made it to finals. She’ll be playing Winter League this year on the new team Dumbledore’s Army.
We’re very lucky to be getting Sat. He has come over here from Hawaii where he’s been living the past few years, and is from Chiba, Japan. He was an organizer of the Dream Cup, the largest Japanese tournament. And has already had an impact here in LA, putting together a team for the Morrisfest tournament, and then a Beach League team, and now a Lei Out team. With Canada’s Furious George, and with Buzz Bullets in Japan, Sat has won multiple national Ultimate titles. He has also served as coach for Team Japan and works with Japan’s CLUB Jr. Inc.
I am a big fan of costumes and I always encourage players and teams to do it. Even still, it takes a bold man to step out on the field dressed as a golden beer maiden super hero, but Alex Drum is that man. This is from Lucky 7’s which was on Halloween. You really have to click on the photo to understand the full effect of it, with the Three Beers Down reference sewed into the skirt and the flower pattern tattoo on his leg, it’s really a marvelous concoction. By the way, what he’s wearing is called a dirndl. Cause I know you were wondering. How do you even describe this whole thing? If Super Girl, Oktoberfest and Pac Man had a baby, this is probably what you’d get. Well done sir. Excuse me…. well done madam.
Not since Alice Chen and Alice Chen have we had such a fun named couple. Testies and Thud were the runaway favorites in the on-line survey. And you can see why. An interesting side note is they were Summer League teammates for all of maybe one hour when Testies’ Platinum was negotiating to get Thud as a replacement for the tournament. But then she was moved to Black instead. Also on a side note, this year saw the first wedding of former New Cute Couple of the Year winners Biclops and Enway. So without putting on any unnecessary pressure on these two, at least it was a good omen. (Foot note: when they went up to accept their award, Testies said “I guess this is official now”.)
This year’s Spirit award was voted on by a special on-line survey where you could vote for anyone you wanted, and Don was mentioned on the most ballots. I couldn’t agree with you more. Don plays hard, but plays fair, and plays with such enthusiasm both on and off the field that you’re drawn to his personality whenever he’s nearby. Anyone who’s seen him do his roller coaster cheer (I’m talking when he stands in front of his team and wildly gestures as everyone else follows his actions. Please somebody post a video of this.) you can’t forget it. And his greatest production I heard this year was at Lucky 7’s when he did an entire improvised rap cheer for all the crazy things his team did at the party the night before. It’s about time Don got this award. (Foot note: at the Awards Banquet he did the roller coaster and it was one of the best moments of the night.)
It takes a village, usually. Grant has done the job of one this year. Start with the Level Up program that he puts together. That alone could make him deserving. But he also adds in a lot of work to help youth ultimate, and will be placed in the role of LAOUT Youth Coordinator on the new LAOUT Board, which by the way he was one of the persons most responsible for starting that up, and has put in a lot of work to get it going. He’s even responsible for putting together the live LAOUT Awards banquet at Villains Tavern and organized the silent auction. Since he moved here to LA, he’s been one of the hardest working players to create events and help advance the community forward.
Ben Brin wrote this one for me: “We all talk about supporting Youth ultimate, and Charlie Mullin is someone who put his money where his mouth is. Building on the existing youth beach league, this year Charlie constructed the first pure LA youth pick up game. Now he doesn’t just organize and promote the game, but he regularly shows up to keep it on track. And moreover, he has turned the weekly pickup game into a competitive youth team to play in the local youth tournaments and head-to-head matches. Starting a youth pickup game, league, or tournament has unique challenges, but also has unique rewards… Nothing quite as great as having your kid graduate to playing along side you in the adult beach league, right Charlie? . . . and there’s another Mullin kid rising fast through the ranks – so look out ShamWow.”
Retro’s Winter League video this year had everything. It starts with a clever parody of the 1984 Apple Macintosh Superbowl commercial and ends with a catchy song. Meg Hofner knocks over a dinosaur with a hammer. I’m not sure if that was the best part, or Mike Bell’s shorts. Continuing in the tradition of the old Milquetoast videos, Retro put in some serious production value into this work of art, and for that reason, this by far beats any highlight reel you saw from AUDL this year. (And there were a shit ton of those.) You can watch the entire Video here. And to see the original Apple commercial that it’s parodying, click here.
When 70 years old you reach, look as good you will not. This is a well deserved award for a man who has been playing long after most people have put the cleats on the shelves for good, and even after many have retired not from Ultimate, but from their job! This September, Chuck turned 70, and it’s not just that he still plays. It’s how well he plays. How incredibly good shape he’s in. How he still schools players on the field. How he continues to do things that are jaw dropping. We all hope to be able to do what he can do when we’re in our 50’s. And when we celebrated his birthday this year, and his wife and friends came, and so many people showed up, it was a testament to the respect we all have for him. Here’s hoping we can give this award again when he’s 80.
This match-up has turned into an impressive rivalry in only two years. Between the two, they came in with 5 of the last 6 Beach League titles. Last year Dune Squad knocked ShamWOW out in Semis. This year they played twice, with Dune Squad taking both games, including one in OT. Dune Squad had to play another over-time game in Semis this year against Dinosaurs, going to universe point. The finals would end the same way. ShamWOW took a very early 4-2 lead but Dune Squad tied it up and took half 7-6. The game stayed close, but Dune Squad was on the verge of putting it away at 12-10 when Keegan Uhl found Vendetta for a two-pointer that would send the game to over-time. Dune Squad again put ShamWOW’s back to the wall at 13-12, thanks in large part to the incredible play of out-of-region player Tyler Grant. But ShamWOW struck back again with what appeared to be a second straight two-pointer when Vendetta outread the field and caught a Chad Christenson-Woods huck to make it 14-13. Or not. The sideline confirmed Chad was over the line when he put it, and so it was tied again 13-13. Both teams scored to make it 14-14. ShamWOW was now playing with only two guys in the last three points due to injuries, and Dune Squad finished off the game with a flawless universe point to take it 15-14 and win their second straight title.
Technically, the biggest upset of the year would be #19 seed Texas at college Nationals over #3 UCLA BLU in pool play. But I don’t want a negative LA upset to win the award. It should be for a positive upset, and it’s hard to get better than Viva’s great end of the day at the Elite-Select Challenge in Columbus, OH in July. It starts with their convincing 12-7 win over Philadelphia’s Green Means Go. The Philly squad made their first Nationals appearance in 2014, and played one of the best games against the All-Star touring team. So Viva’s win there was already an impressive upset. But they had something even better in store at Pre-Quarters. In taking on Chicago’s Nemesis, they were playing a perennial Nationals team who has made every trip to the big show since 2008, and more often finishes in the top half of the field. Nemesis came into this tournament as the #5 seed and Viva was the #12. Despite no real weather conditions, the game was capped short, but Viva triumphed with the 9-7 win and it might have been their best back-to-back games in their history.
There are some teams you can just pencil in year after year for Lei-Out. And the Monkeys were one of the biggest staples. For all I know, they were there the very first year of Lei-Out. Certainly, since I started doing the scheduling for the tournament 12 years ago, the Monkeys were going bananas. Justin and Krista Haley’s team took a hit when they moved last year, so it wasn’t surprising to see the Monkeys missing from the 2015 tournament list, but it was a sad moment. My fondest memory of that team was when a Marshall-based team played them in bracket play on Sunday, and decided we’d have no cap. Games were to 11, but it ended something like 21-19. The team that was supposed to play the winner was understandably pissed, but getting to play the equivalent of two games against them was well worth it. They played for fun. They played respectfully, with great spirit. And their legendary cheers were some of the best you’ve ever heard.
Spike and Rigby had a pretty awesome year. They started with winning Winter League with Ninja Squirtles. And then they were part of the Nationals champion Point Break. They took Sectionals with 7 Figures. And finished it with a Beach League win with Dune Squad. Not a bad award for Rigby to win when she only lived in LA for like four months of the year. Which means she had to travel to win a couple of these. As you’ll see with the Male and Female Players of the Year, all four of this group played together on Point Break and Dune Squad. (Foot note: at the Awards Banquet, Rigby announced she’s moving back to LA, which is fantastic.)
What a great follow-up to Spirit Player of the Year. It’s satisfyingly joyous when one of the game’s most likable and affable players has a season so good, it merits the highest honor. He first won Winter League with Ninja Squirtles. Then won Beach Nationals with Point Break. He did not play the entire Summer League season, but was a late season replacement for the #1 seed on Midnight Tokers, the Men’s team that won. He was a finalist at One Love One Beach. Then won Lucky 7’s with Three Beers Down. And capped the season with a Beach League victory with Dune Squad. All the while doing it with that great Trevor smile that makes all the girls swoon. Trevor is dreamy. And now, Player of the Year.
I have to save the best for last, because Remy had one of the greatest individual seasons for a player in LAOUT history. How do you top this? She’s a Beach Nationals AND World champion in the same year. Add to that wins at NorCal Sectionals and Southwest Regionals with Blackbird, finishing 7th at Nationals. And then she won Beach League with Dune Squad. Add in finals at LeiOut, Huck It Long Beach, One Love One Beach, Kaimana, the Viva Beach Kickoff, and Women’s Masters Regionals. Yep, it was an insanely impressive year. That’s 11 finals appearances. She already won this award two years ago, and won Breakout Female of the Year last year. She continues to add to her impressive resume.
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 2015, and I’m looking forward to another fun year!