A Very Serious Evaluation Of The Best 2015 Callahan Videos

Callahan videos are what the Callahan Award is all about, right?

Next weekend at the College Championships, USA Ultimate will honor two deserving candidates with the Callahan Award. The award represents everything we cherish about the game from performance on the field to sportsmanship to being a great teammate. Right now, though, we don’t care about any of that. At the moment, all we care about is a delightful byproduct of the award: Callahan videos.

There will be several other venues on this site where legitimate, thoughtful discussion will take place regarding who the actual player of the year is. This is not that place and not that discussion. Right now, all you need to worry about is which player’s video made your jaw drop, which video got a song stuck in your head for days, and which video left you wishing that the player’s team had sprung for better camera equipment than a flip phone from 2007.

In a year where seemingly every team released a video for their stud player, Charlie Enders and I have combed through the muck and picked out what we think are the most noteworthy videos. There are plenty more to be found from this year, and several of them are very entertaining, but we feel that these do the best job of encapsulating what Callahan videos looked like in 2015.

Before we get any further, I’ll let Charlie explain the criteria we came up with for evaluating these videos.

Criteria

After much debate and compromise, Patrick and I agreed on our criteria for what makes a great Callahan video.

1. Good Highlights

About as obvious as it gets. A good highlight video contains good highlights. Having video that isnt potato-quality is also a necessity. How am I supposed to know how awesome the play was if it’s just twelve pixels blobbing over to envelope three more? However, this criteria often goes hand in hand with #2…

2. Less than 5 minutes long

Callahan video length should be a maximum of five minutes. I want Callahan videos to highlight plays that you don’t see every day: if a video is eight minutes long, chances are it contains a fair amount of filler and run-of-mill plays. This is beside the fact that in today’s quick-fix, attention-deficient world, I don’t have the time to commit to an eight minute video. Unless the highlights are absolutely unbelievable, chances are that I’m going to lose interest at around five minutes anyway. If you include AUDL/MLU highlights, I’ll lose interest even sooner. Also, it takes an extremely compelling video for either of us to forgive a video that is two songs long. Which brings us to our next point…

3. Music that enhances the video

Music is a critical part of the video. Look at Nick Lance’s video from 2011, arguably the greatest Callahan video of all time. While the highlights are absolutely spectacular, the music sent it into the stratosphere. Also, I’d like to mention that I just realized that Lance’s video runs at 60 fps. Just in case you needed a reason to rewatch it. Of course, Lance’s video contains two songs, a clear violation of my aforementioned one-song-per rule. However, his video is so amazing that having two songs actually ENHANCES the experience, rather than bog it down. The problem is that almost everyone isn’t Nick Lance, and doesn’t have Jay Clark editing their video (touché, Hannah Leathers). An easy way to adhere to the 5 minute rule is to simply use one song, be it Flo Rida, Metallica, or the Berlin Philharmonic. Bonus points if the music syncs to the action.

4. Mostly current-season highlights

I realize that there probably isn’t enough video for this to be feasible, but I want Callahan videos to be highlights from this year. Yes, Stanley Peterson has made some of the most memorable #SCTop10 plays in recent memory, but they aren’t from this spring. We care about what you did throughout this season. It is NOT a lifetime achievement award. That being said, if videos were only allowed to show highlights from the current season, they would probably be pretty boring. Thus, a compromise. I want at least 70% of the highlights to be from the current season.

So without further ado, bring on the videos.

Matt Bennett (Texas A&M)

Matt Bennett Callahan Video

P: Look, I don’t want to be on the wrong side of history here, but is it okay to not love the music choice in this video? I get that there is something admirable about taking a different angle to the video and not just using Lose Yourself or Hey Ya or something, but when you have the goods the way Bennett does, it’s okay to let the flag fly. During the 35-ish seconds towards the end of the video when the scoober barrage begins and R Kelly reaches crescendo, it felt like I was finding religion. It’s tantalizing to know that the whole video could have been like that.

Also, are we really comfortable with the implication the video makes on the last throw? I interpreted it as though the video was claiming that Bennett’s scoober huck is powerful enough to cut off R Kelly mid-climax? That throw is insane, but in case you all forgot, Mr. Kelly says this on “Imma Flirt”:

I don’t know what y’all be thinkin’ when you bring ’em round me
Let me remind you that I am the king of R&B
Do you know what that means? That means if you love yo’ chick
Don’t bring her to the VIP ’cause I might leave wit yo’ chick

Matthew, son, he is the self proclaimed KING OF R&B. He wasn’t telling you, he was reminding you and all of us. Consider yourself warned.

C: Best Moment: Any of the lefty scoobers he throws at around the 6:00 mark. It’s just such a preposterous throw. Who even practices that? Most people can barely throw a scoober with their dominant hand.

P.S. I went outside and attempted a lefty scoober. It half-heartedly made it a quarter of the way to the target, then, as I subsequently did, gave up. My throwing partner: “Seriously?”

Stanley Peterson (Colorado)

Stanley Peterson Callahan Video

P: First of all, let’s get this out of the way. Stanley Peterson should not win the Callahan award this year. He has been limited by injuries, hasn’t dominated the season like some of his contemporaries, and ultimately his skill set seems to make him more of a Pippen than a Jordan. Having said that, this video was so good that it made me question everything I know about the material universe and the rules it supposedly abides by. I give this video 10 out of 10 across the board only because there isn’t a number on my keyboard for “Japanese wind spirit crossed with alien demigod.”

I am honestly unsure, mechanically, how he is doing this. While most players jump straight up or out or diagonally, Peterson is apparently capable of jumping up and then out, at a right angle. I am a history major, so my understanding of Newtonian mechanics isn’t completely developed, but it doesn’t seem possible that a human being should be able to move in the air like a Super Smash Brothers character.

Maybe you could argue that he doesn’t demonstrate enough throwing ability to compete with the likes of Nick Lance or Dylan Freechild in the “best Callahan video ever” conversation, but, to be honest, I was glad for the respite that the brief throwing montage gave me. If anything, the throwing portions of the video were a safety measure, some cooldown time that allowed everyone to safely reorient their faces that had been melted off by the previous displays of athleticism.

C: Peterson is the definition of a human highlight reel. But this video is almost entirely highlights from previous college and club seasons. The fact that Peterson himself has barely played this spring precludes him from serious discussion in the Callahan race, despite the fact that he melted so many faces off. Now excuse me while I mop up my face.

Jon Nethercutt (UNC)

Jon Nethercutt Callahan Video

P: Concept: 10/10. Execution: 4/10. Sorry to burst your Nutt here, Darkside, but the ESPN3 clip of Nethercutt’s 2nd half highlights in semis last year does a better job of hyping him than this vid. I like the thematic approach, but the whole never equaled the sum of its parts. The Game of Thrones theme song is enough to get my blood pumping even when it’s just being whistled by some random dude at Wegmans, but this 8-bit/dubstep mashup leaves me cold.

It’s not just the music choice that makes this maybe the most disappointing video of the year; the editing is also subpar. There are some truly spectacular plays made here, but the best ones aren’t given the proper importance, which makes the pacing uncomfortable. A good video should allow itself to luxuriate in its best moments, but this video treats the most insane throws from Nutt the same as his average plays. It feels rushed throughout, which is a shame because some of the content in the video is next level brilliant.

What about you Charlie, do you think this vid lands Nethercutt closer to the Iron Throne or Flea Bottom?

C: As Bronn said in a recent episode, “Flea Bottom. Whelped and whipped.” Nethercutt is certainly one of the five best players in the country, and this video just doesn’t do him justice. Totally agree about the music, by the way. Dubstep in ultimate videos just doesn’t work for me…I think I’d prefer a video set to smooth jazz (Callahan videos next year, note). And I completely get the GOT aesthetic they attempted here. But I feel like the video would have been better served by using the un-edited/un-remixed opening theme. It’s beautiful, sweeping, and epic, just like many of Lord Nethercutt’s plays.

Elliott Erickson (Georgia)

Elliott Erickson Callahan Video

C: Love it. Erickson in an athletic freak and is the type of player Callahan videos are made for (clearly). Music choice is great, the slow beat really punctuates each layout/sky/huck/what-have-you. He’s not going to win the award, but this video is definitely in my top 5.

P: This video is so great because it knows exactly what it is. Erickson does three or four things extremely well on the ultimate field, and the video highlights them and gets out of the way while the material is still hot. Also, after watching Jojah warm up this year, I’m just as surprised as everyone else that the music choice wasn’t just the soundtrack to ATL or the Timbaland flute sound on repeat.

Ryan Landry (Auburn)

Ryan Landry Callahan Video

C: This has gotta be the best video of someone that wasn’t really on my radar. I’ve heard that Landry was good, but his ability to poach block is apparently inhuman. I don’t think we‘ve ever seen poach blocks featured as a prominent part of a Callahan video, and I’m not sure there ever was an opportunity to do so until this guy. His awareness is off the charts. Also, that high-release flick is yummy. Best part of the video, though, is the 8-2 run against Pitt. I’m aware they ended up losing the game, but has ANY team gone on an 8-2 run against Pitt this season? Has any team even managed to get two breaks in a row?

Music is average. Nothing that noteable. Better than Game of Throne’s dubstep and whatever Bennett’s music is.

P: The song the video uses here is from the end credits of Edge of Tomorrow, a movie in which Tom Cruise uses Groundhog Day-type powers to wage war on an army of fascist, time bending squid aliens. Landry doesn’t do any of those things in this video, so I was more than a little disappointed.

Hannah Leathers (Georgia)

Hannah Leathers Callahan Video

P: Is this the best women’s Callahan video ever? For me it is right up there with Lisa’s P’s from last year and the Bailey Zahniser video from 2013 that introduced us all to Iggy Azalea. Hmm… you’re right, let’s dock Bailey some points for that.

The range of plays she makes here are pretty extraordinary, although a few more finesse throws wouldn’t have hurt. Of course, what she lacks in finesse she makes up with pure domination. There is no other word for it, she is just physically dominant in every aspect of the game in this video. It ranges from more overt examples, the crazy bids and skies, to more subtle ones. Look at how much of the field she is easily able to patrol on defense. My favorite plays in the video are the ones in which she comes from half a field away to casually break up a pass like she was just walking out her front door to get the newspaper.

The music bumps, the editing is tight (shout out to Jay Clark, the mastermind behind Nick Lance’s video who does great work here as well), and while the footage quality isn’t as pristine as some of the others it is good enough that it doesn’t diminish the product.

C: If there were Callahan video awards (“The Callies”), Jay Clark would take home best editing each and every year. The Nick Lance video would have netted him a lifetime achievement award by itself. This video is nothing different: great music, punctual plays, and it makes me think that Hannah Leathers can get a D, throw an assist, and catch a goal all on the same point.

Xavier Maxstadt (UNC Wilmington)

Xavier Maxstadt Callahan Video

P: Wow, that is a ballsy music choice, but Maxstadt just manages to pull it off. So much of the swagger, tenacity, and confidence that Maxstadt and the rest of Wilmington bring to the table is perfectly encapsulated by Ennio Morricone’s music. “Rabbia e Tarantella,” in particular, has a roughish vibe that evokes a sense of excitement coupled with creeping horror that must approximate what it feels like to play defense when Maxstadt has the disc in his hands. Most people probably recognize this theme from the end of Inglorious Basterds, which is about as apt a comparison as I can make for this year’s UNCW team; these guys are out for scalps and have been let off the chain to get them.

Of course while the video works really well to highlight the contagious insanity that has been UNCW’s season thus far, it doesn’t necessarily service Maxstadt as well as it could have. A lot of these plays are showcases for the receivers just as much if not more so than they are for Xavier. Maybe the point is to show that Maxstadt is so confident, is so prepared to laugh in the face of the conventional wisdom involved in throw selection, that he will put up anything at anytime. It makes for some unbelievable highlights, but for the most part functions better as a way of demonstrating how exciting UNCW is than how showcasing Maxstadt as a complete player.

C: Maxstadt passes my 70% criteria with flying colors. ALL of these highlights are from this season (fall and spring). The only players that can compete with his throwing prowess are Bennett and Nethercutt, and I think this video is the best out of the three. However, as Patrick points out, this is almost as much of a Jack Williams video as it is a Maxstadt one. Having a cutter like Jack would make Eddie from my college team look like a competent thrower (Eddie didn’t know what a disc looked like, I’m pretty sure).

Quick Hits

Bethany Kaylor

C: Why does the music sound like it’s coming out of my iphone’s built-in speakers?

Alika Johnson

P: Based on the testimony of all of those reputable talking head interviews in the video I have no doubt that Alika would make a very worthy Callahan award winner. That said, please stop putting talking head interviews in Callahan videos! It might win you the award, but it wins you no favor in our book.

Chase Cunningham

C: Apparently Texas films its games with a TI-85 calculator.

Max Thorne

P: Max Thorne wins this year’s coveted award for “Pittsburgh player who is too good at ultimate to have an interesting highlight video.”

  1. Patrick Stegemoeller
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    Patrick Stegemoeller is a Senior Staff Writer for Ultiworld and also a lawyer who lives in Washington DC. He hopes that his BA in History will prove to be valuable at some point. You can find him on twitter at @patstegs.

  2. Charlie Enders
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    Charlie discovered ultimate his freshman year of high school after he was cut from all the other sports. He lives in St Paul, MN, and you can follow his bad tweets @Endersisgame.

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