2017 End of Year AwardsFeb 7th, 2018 | By AndyBandit | Category: Awards, Features
BREAKOUT FEMALE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Stephanie Pritchard
Ten of this year’s awards went to vote by LAOUT members. It was exciting that twice as many people voted in the SurveyMonkey poll as last year. (#growth) And the winner was Rigby, a veteran player who had already won Beach Nationals, bringing back the commonly asked question of “what defines a break-out year”? But the voters seemed to base a large part on her dominating roll on offense on San Diego Wildfire, as well as her creation of the Beach League team Bad and Boujie who she led to finals. She also won Beach Nationals again this year and went to finals with Ninja Squirtles. Although Rigby has always been viewed as a strong player, 2017 was a watershed year for her where she’s taken the step to being an unquestioned elite baller.
BREAKOUT MALE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Danny Landesman
You knew this was one coming. It was only a matter of when. Well, that “when” question was answered loud and clear. 2017 was the year Danny won his first Winter League title with undefeated Skeeter, skying top level players in semis and finals in front of an enthusiastic and supportive crowd. And he played on the club team LA Republic. No longer a kid with promise, he’s becoming a legitimate stud in the game, both on offense and defense, and the scary thing is, he’s not even approached his ceiling yet. He’s just gonna keep getting better.
CLUB TEAM OF THE YEAR – Aviators
Another one of the ten categories that went to vote in the SurveyMonkey poll, the Aviators beat out a strong field this year which included a Beach Nationals champion and a Mixed Masters Nationals finalist and World’s qualifier. But 2017 was the Aviators finest season yet, with their highest finish in the West division of the AUDL, defeating two-time AUDL champ San Jose Spiders in the first round of the playoffs and losing to eventual champion San Francisco FlameThrowers. Proof that the West is the toughest division in the league, and Aviators is holding their own among the best of the best. And sometimes, they even get engaged on the field.
COLLEGE TEAM OF THE YEAR – UCLA Bruin Ladies Ultimate
The perennial favorite for this award had one of their best seasons ever. Not the highest they’ve ever finished, but you could argue their season was one of their most impressive, and that’s saying something for a team that has been to Nationals 10 times in the last 12 years. They went 4-0 in their pool at Natties including an upset over #3 seed Virginia. Led by seniors Heist, Arrow and Kailua, and featuring their vaunted zone defense, they had another dominating season, like they do.
LEAGUE TEAM OF THE YEAR – Dune Squad (Beach League)
Skeeter may have had an undefeated season and marched through the tournament, but it’s hard to argue with a team that set the record for the highest overall point diff in the history of any team in LAOUT history. They didn’t just beat it. They danced on its grave. The previous record of +100 was taken down by their +112. Granted, they did it in two more games (16 vs. the 14 ShamWow did it in 2013) but a record is a record. And they had a pretty epic tournament finals win over Bad & Boujie as well that might have won for Game of the Year if not for Long Beach Legacy’s finals games this year. Oh, and this happened to be their fourth straight title. Which no other Beach League team has ever done. Can they be stopped?
TOURNAMENT TEAM OF THE YEAR – Long Beach Legacy
To be clear, a tournament team is a team that does not compete for Nationals. That simple. The grass version of Legacy did go to Regionals, but the beach version of the team surprisingly did not enter as a Nationals competitor. I say surprisingly knowing full well they haven’t played in either of the previous two Nationals either. But considering their performances in the US Beach Open and Beach Westerns where they made finals at both, (including winning the Beach Open, and playing a close game against Team USA at Beach Westerns) you’d think they’d find a way to get out to Virginia Beach and take the highest crown.
B DIVISION TEAM OF THE YEAR – Tsukemen and Women (Winter League)
Due to dynamic scheduling, there’s no such thing as an A or B team in Winter League anymore. That is determined by the time the tournament rolls around. Some love that it’s done that way, and some hate it. But the fact of the matter is newcomer Tsukemen and Women, made up in large part of players from the club team Family Style, did end up winning the B bracket in Winter League. Not really expected to be in the conversation for the Winter League title, they nonetheless forced their way in there by defeating top teams and staying close enough to everyone that when tournament time came around, they received the third most votes to win the tournament. They’re young. They’re fast. And they eat a lot of noodles.
CINDERELLA TEAM OF THE YEAR – Occidental College Detox
The last time Oxy made it to D-III Nationals in the Open division, it was 6 years ago in 2011, interestingly the same year Claremont College won the whole thing. Since then, Claremont has been the consistent team to represent the Southwest. But this year, a three-team round robin ended with Oxy defeating Claremont 15-13 and making it back to the big show behind coach, and Oxy alum, Ben Potash. To complete their Cinderella year, they were seeded last coming in, but broke seed to finish 15th. Baby steps people.
TOURNAMENT OF THE YEAR – U.S. Beach Open
For the second straight year, Spike’s US Beach Open continues to be the high bar by which others should be judged. Spike goes above and beyond to ensure an amazing experience for everyone. He makes field lines. (Like literally makes them.) He makes hoists for scoreboards. He has games filmed. The man knows what he’s doing. No tournament seems to run more smoothly and it had the added benefit of one of the best finals of the year with Long Beach Legacy taking the title.
TOURNAMENT FINALS PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR – Zach Theodore
Speaking of the US Beach Open, when the nominating committee was asked about the best finals performance across ALL tournaments and leagues, Mingo’s name stood out not just from one tournament, but two. Take your pick with what he did at both the US Beach Open AND Beach Westerns. With Long Beach Legacy winning tournament team of the year, a big part of that success was what Mingo brought to the table. And if you were at the live Awards banquet, then you know quite well this is hardly the only award Mingo is winning here.
TOURNAMENT PARTY OF THE YEAR – Summer League
This was one of the 10 categories to go to the SurveyMonkey poll. And it was a landslide winner with the toga party coming from Summer League’s Greek Gods theme this year. Some entire teams wore togas. And although the Olympic games we scheduled didn’t go off quite as well as hoped, they still provided enough amusement while they lasted, and enough drinks were flowing all night in the outdoor patio at JJ’s Bar & Grill to make for a really fun night. And there was also some good kissing drama at the bar, and you know that’s always a favorite of mine.
LEAGUE/TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR – Grant Boyd, Russell Gaskamp and Trevor Smith (Regionals)
While not without its controversy regarding the high price of the tournament, Southwest Regionals was a major success due to the work of on-site TD’s Spike and Trevor, and California Ultimate’s Executive Director Grant Boyd who booked most of the stuff pre-tourney. The price was related to the cost of the fields, but just getting Regionals back to SoCal, and away from the punishing 100+ degree heat of Arizona was worth it for most. All three of them have extensive TD experience and it shows when they run events.
COACH OF THE YEAR – Alex Korb (UCLA Bruin Ladies Ultimate)
Korb is now a three-time winner of this award. And you start to wonder, is that even enough? Modestly he would tell you he is just always surrounded by so much talent. But very few get as much out of the talent they have as he does. And 10 Nationals trips in 12 years is a testament to how well coached this system is.
YOUTH COACH OF THE YEAR – Kaden Donato
As this one has to do with SCYU, I asked Grant to write it. He said: Kaden Donato is enthusiasm, dedication, and positivity wrapped in a smile that easily inspired over 1,000 elementary school youths this summer. Visiting 25 schools in under 4 weeks, Kaden and his co-coaches taught these children all of the ultimate basics and lead most of the schools through their very first ultimate game! From the beginning of the program with LA’s Best to the end, Kaden grew more confident at not only teaching, but also at learning how to deal with unforeseen circumstances (like teaching ultimate in a mobile trailer classroom). Kaden has truly come to embody SCYU’s motto, “We don’t just develop great athletes; we develop great people.” In a few years, we’ll look back at Kaden as leading the movement to make LA ultimate great. From SCYU player, to local college student hired by SCYU, to coaching the next generation of SCYU athletes; Kaden has proven that investing in youth ultimate is the gift that keeps on giving.
LEAGUE CAPTAIN OF THE YEAR – Seth Gillum
Honestly, Seth should’ve won this award years ago. For Summer League alone. Nobody, and I mean absolutely nobody, is as fair and helpful to other captains during the Summer League draft. Also, during a poll I put out several years ago asking who is your Ultimate Frisbee mentor, more people voted for Seth by far, and everyone who voted for him had had him as a Summer League captain. But this year, to add to all that, he stepped up and put together a free agent team for Winter League, which we hadn’t had for several years. But he didn’t just put the team together. He followed through by showing up to almost all the games to help them out. That’s going the extra mile.
OFF-THE-FIELD PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR – Eric Brach, Kelsey Kaszas, Megan Prazenica and Teru Brach
Originally I was considering giving this to a Summer League karaoke performance, but there were so many good ones, it deserved its own category. Instead, this award is going to Frizzband, who played their very first gig at Frogtown Brewery during last year’s award show. It was such a hit, everyone asked for them to come back again this year, which they happily obliged, and even added a Lei Out gig this year. With their fun costumes, electric energy, terrific selection of sing-along songs, and Yosh’s disembodied head on the drumset, they are a unique and talented act, and well deserving of this award.
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR – Chris Walthers
As this one is more to do with SCYU, I asked Grant to write it. He said: Chris Walthers is a gift from the nonprofit gods. His attention to detail, mixed with his zeal for reaching out to potential sponsors and donors has made SCYU thrive in 2018. Most of the work he does is behind the scenes (unless he’s wooing you to buy raffle tickets at St. Pat’s Hat!), but if you saw anything at the SCYU silent auction this year, there’s a 75% chance Chris did the leg work to procure that item. From creating reimbursement and payment forms, to actually paying people and companies, Chris is the financial cherub that youth ultimate in LA needed. Did we mention he’s a great guy and one of the most active players in our community as well? Next time you see his smile, make sure to thank him!
BIGGEST MALE LOSS OF THE YEAR – Charles Naurath
Every year, LA loses tons of players, usually to the stupid Bay Area. They could practically make an entire league of players who’ve moved from LA. Well, at the very least a Mini or Goaltimate League. This year, however, the two biggest losses moved out East. And one moved REALLY east. Chuck moved to the East coast this past year, leaving us with a hole in St. Pat’s Hat, which he and Sherry Jung had been manning for the last three years. Chuck approached me to run St. Pat’s almost immediately after playing in his first one. I was initially reluctant to pick someone who didn’t have a lot of St. Pat’s Hat experience, but he proved to be an excellent choice, and brought exactly the kind of energy that tournament needed.
BIGGEST FEMALE LOSS OF THE YEAR – Samantha Zyck
If you want to read a real recap of what Broccoli has meant to us, you can read Remy’s player spotlight in the first LAOUT members’ newsletter. http://mailchi.mp/702262455c41/laout-fall-newsletter?e=3beec0e112#4 I can’t say it any better than she did there. Broccoli has moved on to Spain, and may be back one day, but for now she’s gone, and missed, and there are a few less unicorns in LA because of it.
SCANDAL OF THE YEAR – Throwback
I guess it’s controversial to even call this is a “Scandal”. Certainly the creators of Throwback would argue Lei Out’s lack of financial transparency is the real scandal. But for the purposes of this award, I’m saying that a tournament whose main purpose of existence is to challenge another tournament on the same weekend is pretty scandalous. Especially when Lei Out had been growing exponentially for several years now and up until torrential downpours (by LA’s standards) caused three quarters of the teams to stay home Sunday last year, Lei Out did not look like it was slowing down. Some combination of the rain and Throwback’s emergence led to a combined total of 100 fewer teams participating on MLK weekend this year.
CONTROVERSY OF THE YEAR and QUESTIONABLE DECISION OF THE YEAR – Hera (Summer League)
I have to personally own up to the Questionable Decision part. That was totally my bad. If you didn’t know who Xavier Mignot was, you couldn’t help but hear his name bandied about after I gave him to Pink’s team to replace an injured third rounder. Having played briefly with him in Men’s Beach League in the Spring, I guess I didn’t get enough of a view of his potential in Summer League. And that replacement, combined with Brandon Severson replacing injured capt Nate Warden (which was a totally legit replacement by league rules, but it was hard to ignore how unbelievably well Brandon played all season. I personally watched him get double digit D’s in one game.) it was all anyone was talking about at the tournament. Hera went from a team who lost twice as many games as they won during the regular season, to setting the record as the lowest seed to ever win the Summer League tournament. And it will lead to rule changes this coming year to prevent this from happening again. But also wanted to mention the admirable job captains Stephanie Hicks and Nate did during some pretty hard adversity during the tournament and after-party.
RIVALRY OF THE YEAR – USC Hellions vs. UCLA BLU
Not the first time these two teams have won this award. Although it took some time this season for the teams to play each other in a sanctioned event. It was scheduled to happen at the Northwest Challenge in March, but the game was cancelled. Which meant their first official USAU sanctioned game would occur in the Conference Championships. This is a tournament BLU has won several times, and they won each of the last two years in 2015 and 2016. Hellions had never won this before. That was about to change. (Note that I did try to verify Hellions never won this by going back through USAU’s archives, but it is a minefield over there. Lots of the old links don’t work anymore, or they take forever to load.) UCLA and USC came in as the 1 and 2 seeds, so they wouldn’t play each other until bracket play on Sunday. And USC pulled the 10-9 win giving them the title. They would meet at Regionals two weeks later, in the backdoor 2nd place game in Quarters. But this time, UCLA won the battle 10-8 and went on to Nationals. USC was stopped in the 4th place game, just missing a bid.
GOOD DECISION OF THE YEAR – Live Streaming the Summer League Draft
The previous year, we live streamed the draft on Periscope with Seth Gillum giving very knowledgeable commentary. At the most, I think maybe a dozen people checked out the feed. But Facebook created their own live-streaming system, and when Alex Carey streamed the draft this May it was pure gold. It was viewed 1800 times, and generated over 600 comments. When I heard those numbers the next day, I couldn’t believe it. But Alex’s brand of humor, and getting right up next to many of the captains for close-up Q&A’s, plus the controversy of the first two rounds led to a great viewing experience that we will definitely repeat this year.
DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE YEAR – Sunday at Lei Out
I know this is coming out after Lei Out 2018, but remember we’re talking about 2017 here, and the inclement weather (by LA’s standards) that led to around 300 teams dropping out on Sunday, and forcing a complete re-working of the schedule on the spot in a downpour was definitely a lowlight of the year. It was particularly frustrating because Lei Out wasn’t even supposed to be on that weekend. It was moved off of MLK weekend because of last year’s controversy of the year, when Orin Moore booked Santa Monica field on MLK in an attempt to create his own tournament as a competition to Lei Out (which of course, did happen in 2018.) It didn’t rain at all on MLK weekend, but it sure as hell rained the following weekend.
MALE COLLEGE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Sam Cook, USC
For the second straight year, this award is going to a member of USC Lockdown. Mikey Sylvester won last year. Sam Cook, a former member of the Seattle Cascades in the AUDL, took the crown this year. He also played on 7 Figures for the club season. And was a previous U19 I think? Maybe U23. I didn’t get all my facts on this I admit.
FEMALE COLLEGE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Han Chen, UCLA
How about back-to-back wins? Heist continued to be the dominant force leading UCLA BLU to another Nationals appearance and 5th place finish. Did you see the stats for BLU at Nationals? Heist scored 34 of the 65 points they got. More than half of all of their scores!!! That is just sick. And she had the highest goals per games played of any player, male or female, at the tournament. Yep, I looked it up. Makes it feel a little petty to even be giving her this award for LA. She should be nominated for this award for the whole country. (Is there such a thing?)
AMAZING MOMENT OF THE YEAR – Zach Theodore and Evie Herzfeld
There was no question this was going to win the award. Mingo’s proposal to Evie at halftime of the Aviators / Vanouver Riptide game this Summer was one for the ages. Cleverly hiding the proposal within a gift the Aviators were already giving to their team’s statisticians, the moment was made funnier when Evie hammed it up to the crowd before the surprise, not realizing that she was about to really get their attention when her boyfriend gave her a disc that said “Will you marry me” and dropped down on one knee with a ring. The only person happier at that moment was Ace the Aviator, who doesn’t need much encouragement to get all riled up, let’s be honest.
AMAZING PLAY OF THE YEAR – Sean McDougall
Sticking with the Aviators, the best play of the year was one of the craziest. With two seconds left on the clock of the August 13 Western Conference finals against the San Francisco Flamethrowers, Mitchell “Blitz” Steiner uncorked a 40 yard backhand huck that got tipped in the air by an SF player over Sean McDougall. But that was not the last that Sean would be part of this play. After it was tipped up in the air again, Sean ran the disc down and had the field presence to leap into the air on the catch to make sure he landed in the end zone for the buzzer beating score turning Blitz’s 40 yard throw into a 65 yard adventure. Unfortunately the score didn’t help as they were down by 12 at the time, but it’s really fascinating to think that was the last play of the Aviators season. Save the best for last.
PICK-UP PLAY OF THE YEAR – Patrick Lyons
Usually this award would go to an impressive on the field play. Goat won this award in a previous year for his first ever Callahan. But this time it’s being given out for something pretty cool that I think most of us wish we could do. Patrick changed his work schedule so that he could make pick-up games at Slacker Wednesday and the post-game Happy Hour. The part that makes this particularly awesome is that Patrick is a teacher, so changing his schedule was a big deal. Don’t you worry. The kids are still getting taught. Young minds are not going to waste. He just found a way to prioritize both work and play, and I give a big kudos to that.
POLL OF THE YEAR – March 27, 2017
I usually just pick the poll I liked the most. Did you know I’ve now done 507 polls? That’s a lot of freakin’ polls. I feel like I’ve asked every question there is to ask about Ultimate. But my favorite one from 2017 was actually an update of a poll I had done eight years before. In 2009, I asked which you prefer, grass or beach ultimate. In 2009, the answer was overwhelmingly grass. 84% picked the green stuff. But in March, I checked back in with everyone to see where we stand today. And although grass is still the favorite, it mustered 65%, a steep drop off from eight years ago. Beach is on the rise.
RECAPPER OF THE YEAR – Stephanie Hicks
Once again we got tons of people recapping Winter League and Summer League games. 17 rookie recappers joined the ranks in 2017. Among them was the incredibly esoteric Crunch with her famous (and somewhat illegible) Crunchcaps. Kumbha went through a complete arc during Summer League, with seriously salty recaps in June that gave way to nothing but lug by August. But the best of the year really came down to two options. Last year’s winner Joanna Whitney doing her best to repeat. And Stephanie Hicks, who does have the advantage of getting paid to write. It showed. Her recaps took TV script form and were nothing short of page turners. I’m still hoping at least one of them actually gets filmed with professional actors playing the parts of Ultimate players.
RECAP OF THE YEAR – Alex Carey
Here’s the link. Check it out. This was the recap when Alex announced the birth of his kid. That was definitely a first, and the most memorable one of the year.
CALL OF THE YEAR – Summer League Suspension
The “call” in question was the LAOUT Board’s decision to suspend two players a game apiece for their part in a verbal confrontation during Summer League that looked very much like it was on the verge of turning into an all out fight. Fortunately, it didn’t get that far. But the ensuing vote to suspend the two players was a first in LAOUT in around ten years. The last time a player was disciplined was back in 2006 during a squabble in Winter League. Back then a LAOUT Conduct Committee was formed to handle such matters. My favorite story from the Conduct Committee was that Frankie Rho, the Committee’s Chairperson, wrote up the event as incident #00001. Frankie, you honestly were concerned there might be 10,000 incidents to report??? Safe to say, we never got nearly to that number.
QUOTE OF THE YEAR – Lu Wang
For your viewing pleasure. Lu has said some wild things in the past, so it’s surprising it took him this long to get this award. Referring to himself as the hottest guy in LA is not even my favorite part of this video though. It’s Orin Moore in the background. Worth watching.
Of course, if you asked Jean Frazier, I’m pretty sure she’d say with strong conviction Lu is indeed the hottest guy in L.A. He was #1 on her Seven on the Line, and hers was co-ed.
OUT-OF-NOWHERE AWARD – Julie Johnson
This award usually goes to someone or something that just completely shocked you. Suffice it to say, it doesn’t happen every year. And quite honestly, Kumbha winning this award isn’t completely fair since she’s been around for quite some time and so didn’t really come out of nowhere per se. But she received the most nominations for this due to the level with which she became one of the most important faces in the community in 2017. Starting with becoming a member of the LAOUT Board, and culminating with producing the “The Sky is Red” documentary. In between she became a key figure on San Diego’s Wildfire, helped the USC Hellions return to Nationals, was the most influential voice in the room during the live-streamed Summer League draft fiasco, was the most talked about recapper during Summer League, and helped to run the Sandshark tournament. When I did the photo montage at the Awards banquet, she was in over 10% of the photos. Way higher than anyone else.
INNOVATION OF THE YEAR – Konrad Antoniuk
Konrad built an Ultimate sleeve that tracks your throws. It’s a combination of therapeutic bands and homemade electronics. When you throw, this thing knows immediately that you’re throwing a backhand, forehand, or hammer. (I’m assuming v2 will recognize scoobers, thumbers, push passes and blades. v3 will get Johnny Lieske’s Chicken Wing and Biclops’…. many things that he throws). It’s still in prototype phase, but it will be able to measure each throw, which is perfect for disc golf, but can also help you get the most distance on your hucks. It won’t improve your decision making ability. But it will help your form.
GEAR OF THE YEAR – Dune Squad (Beach League)
You had me at secret jerseys. Dune Squad accomplished a lot this year setting the record for highest point diff ever for a LAOUT league team, and winning their 4th straight Beach League title. But even more exciting than that was the decision to prepare for the possibility that they’d take on Bad & Boujie in the finals, a team that also wore black jerseys, and the 50/50 chance that Bad & Boujie would win the flip for color and choose dark. If those two events happened, then Dune Squad was ready with secret white jerseys they printed just for the finals, to reveal right before the game started. That’s the kind of ridiculousness that I absolutely love! Kudos. I badly want to believe if those two events didn’t occur, they’d keep the white jerseys hidden for a whole other year.
HAIR OF THE YEAR – Mitchell Steiner
After a couple years of beards winning this award, it’s so nice to return to the stuff on top of your head. And this year, Blitz’s golden locks were the winner. He’s been growing it out in part to win this award, so first of all, well played sir. At the Beach League tournament party, there’s the great photo above of Blitz standing next to Q with their hair looking remarkably similar. So similar, Q’s own boyfriend Joe Forbes could not tell them apart. That’s awesome! Unfortunately, Blitz has already cut the beautiful hair off so this is someone else’s prize to win for 2018.
TREND OF THE YEAR – 5 Panel Hats
The reign of the 5-panel hat in LA can be traced back to 2004 and the opening of the store Supreme on Fairfax. It was popular with skaters, but a little over a decade later it caught on with the Ultimate community. Although I will say, for Trend of the Year, I did struggle to find a photo on Facebook of someone actually wearing one. Fortunately Annie put this photo on just a day before I wrote this. But it was by far the overwhelming winner among the nominating committee, and I do love mob rule.
KARAOKE PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR – Robin Sargan
One of the best things to happen in Summer League is Wednesday night Karaoke at Joxer’s after the games. One guy brings his Karaoke machine, and the place turns into a re-creation of Duets with Gwynneth Paltrow. Several locals practice their chops for the Karaoke League that Joxer’s occasionally runs. But when Ultimate players are there, we take over the joint. And the best of the best of the year was undoubtedly Robin Sargan’s rendition of the song made famous by Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure, “Tequila”. An inspired choice for Karaoke since there’s literally only one word repeated over and over. Makes you wonder why it’s even on the karaoke playlist. Robin took things up a notch by handing out tequila shots to everyone nearby during the song. That’s how you sing!!!
UBIQUITOUS PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Sherry Zhang
This is one of my favorites of all the awards. For those who don’t know, and don’t feel like Googling this, ubiquitous means being everywhere at once. It’s the award for the person who comes into town, and suddenly they’re everywhere. At all the parties. All the tournaments. All the events. It started with Pui Lee who inspired the creation of this award, right before she promptly left LA to get married to an Ultimate player in Santa Barbara. But then came Sam Treu who really embodied what this award meant. Right before she also left town. Hopefully Sherry stays. She was the winner in the on-line poll for this award, and started dating Garrett shortly after moving here and got herself into the running for Cute Couple as well.
NEW FEMALE PLAYER IN TOWN OF THE YEAR – Mei Bruist
New player in town is similar to ubiquitous player. Although it’s more on the field than off. LA always loses so many players every year, so it’s nice to be able to give awards to new players who come here. Mei is from Boston where she played for the women’s club team Boston Siege, and prior to that was a Callahan Award nominee with the Northeastern Valkyries. She already impacted LA leagues by winning Summer League with Hera. In the nominations for this award, she was the runaway favorite.
NEW MALE PLAYER IN TOWN OF THE YEAR – Tom Doi
New male player however had several nominees, and they were all legit. But Tom rose to the top in the on-line poll. Coming from DC where he played in the AUDL with the Breeze, he started making his LA impact in the middle of Winter League, and helped Skeeter breeze through the season with their undefeated record and dominating tournament. And he also helped the Aviators to their Western division finals appearance. And he helped Bad & Boujie to a finals appears in Beach League. And he’s got monosyllabic first and last names, which is always the best for calling someone by their full name.
NEW CUTE COUPLE OF THE YEAR – Amy Lee and Bryce Edwards
This is another of my favorite awards. I love new couples so much. I sometimes secretly root for everyone to break up just so there can be more new couples. (But only secretly. I would never say that out loud.) Interestingly, this award does not have the greatest track record. Many of the couples who won this didn’t last and only one single couple, Biclops and Enway, went on to get married. About the same general success rate as The Bachelor, to be honest. This year’s winners Hoover and Bryce narrowly beat out Fish and Wall-E in the on-line survey in a great race. But there’s no questioning their cuteness factor. I’m going to quote from Broccoli here, if I may. “They don’t post a lot on social media, as theirs is the quiet kind of affection, but if you see them together they’re heart-melting.”
SPIRITED PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Sonja Roden
If you’re thinking of someone who’s always got a smile on her face, is taking care of other people, is bringing jell-o shots to the field, and is often seen rooting on her teammates on the sideline (and sometimes her opponents too), you’re thinking of Sonja. The kind of person who’s perfect to now be co-running St. Pat’s Hat, a tournament that was meant for her. Sonja will likely be highlighted in a future LAOUT Newsletter this year, so I don’t want to put out any spoilers. Just know this was an overdue award for Sonja, who’s been a total joy every time she’s on or off the field.
PHOTO OF THE YEAR – Sharon Tseng
This photo of Dune Squad’s Sharon getting the D against Alex Drum of Bad & Boujie during the Beach League Finals wins this award in part because of how badass the play is, but also because of the situation. This was late in a very close game (it was either 11-10 B&B or tied at 11’s at the time) and this was a 2-pointer. This D absolutely saves the game for Dune Squad who goes on to win the game and their 4th straight Beach League title. To the best I can tell, this was the first LAOUT League Sharon played in (although I don’t have Women’s League rosters). Talk about making a strong first impression. Look at the vert. And check out that ankle tape. That’s a top notch taping job.
GIF OF THE YEAR – Annie Ngo
Back-to-back wins!!! Annie vs. Signs. Above is the gif from last year on the left, and this year’s on the right. It’s tough to do two things simultaneously. You know, a lot of people have issues with the rub the tummy while patting on the head thing. For Annie, it’s walking and using eyes. Hard to do both. * I keed.* Seriously though, can somebody get on sign duty here when Annie’s around to avoid a three-peat? Maybe a grass zamboni or something. Save the girl from harm, please.
VIDEO OF THE YEAR – Megan Prazenica, Meghan Kemp-Gee and Mike Bell
The Contested Strip video that Bacon and Rho put together is pure genius. Starting with an incredibly accurate cartoon recreation of the room they were in, they took their brilliant animated strip off the page and put it onto the small screen with a laugh out loud behind-the-scenes parody of Callahan videos. Mike Bell acted as co-director and was on the creative team from the beginning adding his own genius touches. It’s so good. Don Macatangay in a feather boa is like the 8th best thing on here. That’s how awesome this was. Bacon wipes the disc on Mad Dog of Fury. I mean, c’mon. Unicorns. Explosions. Flash mob. It had everything except a character in a motion capture suit. NO WAIT!!! It had that too!
BEHIND-THE-SCENES PERSON OF THE YEAR – Chuck Bender
Do you like the new turf fields we’re playing on for Winter and Summer League? Much better than having to deal with gopher holes or sprinklers going off during games or…. you know…. grass. The person to thank for that is Chuck who has worked tirelessly to get us those fields. He’s always on the phone with some field coordinator or another, and often bringing them cupcakes. And then he actually goes to the fields, usually for the first game of the season that we have them. Just to make sure everything’s working well, like an employee for Arclight Cinema.
HERO OF THE YEAR – Evie Herzfeld
This is a great award, given out to someone who went above and beyond to do something very special. It was a scary moment during Beach League finals when teammates Rigby and Radish collided. An ambulance had to be brought to the field, and when’s the last time you remember seeing that during a LAOUT event? Although certainly several players were there to provide support and went to the hospital to visit Radish, Evie deserves an extra amount of credit for how much she really was on the spot helping to take care of her and from my understanding brought her belongings to the hospital for her.
END OF AN ERA AWARD – Kong
From 2006 to 2016, Kong was a major power in Winter League. They were born from the split up of Bedford Mules, a Westside based team who began in 2002 and in 2005 changed their name to Stuyvesant Peg Legs for a season before breaking up into Thumper and Kong. Kong won the Winter League title in their first season of 2006. They would win again five years later. But during their time, they were a constant threat, racking up 53 regular season victories, which is second most in the on-line recorded history of Winter League. (#1 is Marshall with 91, NBD.) Kong brought us some of the greatest memories, like in the 2009 finals when Keegan Uhl almost single handedly won the first half of their game against Empire, and then also single handedly lost the second half of that game. In 2011 when Joe Forbes made the famous *ahem* injury call in quarters that stopped AFO from tying the game. And they had a player win a LAOUT Player of the Year Award in each of the first three years of the Awards. Keegan in 2009, Mish in 2010 and Henny in 2011. This is probably the only top LA team that Jeff Landesman never played for.
GAME OF THE YEAR – Beach Westerns Finals
Tanks Obama was the Team USA WCBU Mixed Team. Basically, they were going to win this tournament. Or were they? A little team from Long Beach put up a huge fight and made this THE game to watch. While two USA Men’s teams were playing on the field over from them, the crowd clearly preferred to watch this local team go toe to toe with the best in the country. In fact, they played a perfect first half with the only turnover being a Callahan. High level at its highest. Long Beach Legacy may have lost the game 13-10 but they showed they’re clearly among the best in the Nation, and further put an exclamation point on why they need to put some money into a trip to Virginia Beach.
POWER COUPLE OF THE YEAR – Evie Herzfeld and Zach Theodore
They did it all this year. They won Winter League together with Skeeter. They lost in the Beach League finals with Bad & Boujie. And they won the US Beach Open, won Huck-It-Long-Beach and lost in Beach Westerns finals with Long Beach Legacy. It was a season of a lot of winning. If that wasn’t all, they got engaged at the halftime of an Aviators game. And as you read above, Mingo won Tournament Finals Performance of the Year, and Evie won Hero of the Year. Let’s see what they do for a 2018 follow-up. Wedding of the Year, maybe?
FEMALE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Alexa Cohen
Cortez and Brandon were strong contenders to win the Power Couple of the Year Award. Instead, they just each won the individual awards. Cortez won Beach League with Dune Squad. She lost in Winter League finals with Ninja Squirtles. She won One Love One Beach. And she even won the Mini tournament that we did in August. Oh, and by the way, also won Beach Nationals with Point Break. For the second time. Just for good measure.
Here’s the list of all Female Player of the Year Award winners since I started doing this in 2009:
2009: Sarah VanWagenen
2010: Michelle Andrews
2011: Taiala Regnier
2012: Connie Wang
2013: Remy Schor
2014: Connie Wang
2015: Remy Schor
2016: Jane Carlen
2017: Alexa Cortez
MALE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Brandon Severson
And on the male side, Brandon had a pretty decent year. Most of these were mentioned with Cortez’ award. He won Beach League with Dune Squad. Won Summer League with Hera. Lost in Winter League finals with Ninja Squirtles. Won Beach Nationals with Point Break. Won One Love One Beach. Lost in the AUDL West Division championship with the Aviators. Made Open Nationals with the Condors. Won New Year’s Fest. And also won the Mini tournament we did in August. Not bad.
Here’s the list of all Male Player of the Year Award winners since I started doing this in 2009:
2009: Keegan Uhl
2010: Scott Mahr
2011: Matt Hennessy
2012: Daniel Walton
2013: Daniel Walton
2014: Evan Valdés
2015: Trevor Smith
2016: Evan Valdés
2017: Brandon Severson
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 2017, and I’m looking forward to another fun year!