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10 Things I’m Excited About In The Upcoming Women’s Club Season

Mike Lawler discusses the upcoming Women's Club season.

Club Nationals 2014. Photo: Alex Fraser -- UltiPhotos.com
Club Nationals 2014. Photo: Alex Fraser — UltiPhotos.com

This article is a guest post from Mike Lawler. It was originally published on his blog. Lawler is the former coach of Seattle Riot and Boston Brute Squad.

This week’s podcast has had me thinking about the upcoming club season lately, so I thought it would be fun to write about some of the things I’m excited to see this year (looking from the outside, sadly…).

10. Ultiworld’s filming

With NGN shutting their doors I was worried that there’d be no live streaming of games this year. Luckily Ultiworld was able to fill in the gap – I hope people support them.

Seriously – support them.

9. The Ohio State duo coming to women’s club

I was blown away watching Cassie Swafford and Paige Soper lead Ohio State to the College Championship in 2014. So happy to see them on club rosters this year (Raleigh Phoenix and Seattle Riot, respectively).

8. The players coming to Women’s from Mixed

Brute Squad picks up Maggie Liu, Fury picks up Sarah Carnahan, Molly Brown picks up Becca Miller. I’m sure there are a few others, too. Happy to see the talent level increasing every year in the women’s game.

7. The “returners”

Jenny Fey back with Scandal, Amber Sinicrope back with Brute Squad. Hannah Kreilkamp returning to the women’s division with Fury. Gwen Ambler coming back from retirement 🙂

Just writing this one makes me happy!

6. The transfers

Quite a game of musical chairs this year! I remember where I was standing the first time I saw Opi Payne play. It’ll be a little strange but definitely fun to see her with Molly Brown. I know that everyone is going to be excited to see her on the field with Claire, but I’m also really excited to see her find some chemistry with Sally Lambert. Guessing she’ll find Sally to be really easy to throw to!

Fury’s picked up Marika Austin and Steph Lim from Nightlock. I only know Lim from watching her play with Stanford, but I saw lots of Austin when she was with the Ghosts. She’s incredible. Hoping she has a great year with Fury.

Riot picked up Qxhna Titcomb from Brute Squad. It was so cool to see her and Rohre playing together at Beach Worlds. Can’t wait to see them together on Riot!

Phoenix picked up Mariel Hammond from Showdown. She’s unbelievably talented. Huge pickup for Phoenix!

Brute Squad picked up Cassie Wong from Bent. Definitely one of the best D-line players in the NE. Tough loss for Bent and a great addition to Brute Squad’s already super strong D-line.

Traffic picked up Kathryn Pohran from the Capitals. Super player and leader. It is going to be great to see her back on the field this year.

5. Not necessary excited, but nice to think about the careers of a few people that are stepping away this season.

BlakeBrute Squad’s Blake Spitz is retiring. She’d been with Brute since their second year in existence and her leadership is what helped bring Brute Squad from a new team to one of the top club teams in the country. I’m proud to have her #5 jersey hanging on my office wall.

Brute also loses Chelsea Witte-Garcia and Sara Jacobi who were two of the best deep defenders in the game. Incredible club careers for both of them.

VY Chow has retired from Fury after an incredible career with Godiva, Brute Squad, Team Canada, and finally Fury. One of the smartest and most athletically gifted players that I’ve ever seen.

Alicia White has retired from Scandal. First saw her play at College Nationals in 2004 when her UCSD team knocked MIT out in the quarterfinals. The last two championships with Scandal are a nice way to end a sure-fire hall of fame career.

4. The continued growth of Nightlock

I’ve always had a soft spot for Nightlock because they remind me a lot of Brute Squad from the early 2000s. It has been great to see their rocketship-like rise to the top. Can’t really wish for anything other than success for people like Peri Kurshan coaching them and Rachel Habbert whose leadership helped shape them in their first three seasons.

3. Liên Hoffmann’s year

I first saw Liên play in an amazing quarter final battle between Nemesis and Riot at 2013 Nationals. I was super lucky to be able to work with her on Brute last season and can only rave about her. Maybe the most complete player I’ve seen since Christine Dunlap.

Earlier this year I was at a pickup goaltimate game at Harvard where she was playing. The Boston Breakers (Boston’s pro women’s soccer team) had the field after us. One of their coaches came over to me as they were taking the field to ask who Liên was. When pro coaches in a sport you don’t play see how talented you are when you are playing pickup you’ve got some talent!

This is her year to shine.

2. Samantha Salvia coaching Fury

Stepping into Matty’s shoes isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world to do. I don’t know Samantha personally, but I’ve seen her writing and know a little bit about her athletic and non-athletic resume. It is great to know that people like her are involved in ultimate, and what an amazing thing for Fury to have her return to the team.

1. All of the work that players everywhere are putting into the game.

One of the great things about the college season for me is seeing all of the club players coaching. Away from college, it was cool to see Sarah Griffith and Alyssa Weatherford bring a high school team from Seattle down to Centex. I also read that the Bay Area is sending a girls team to one of the big high school tournaments for the first time. So many amazing things happening.

All that work that players everywhere are putting into the game is paying huge dividends. Last year Brute’s Angela Zhu had just finished her freshman year at Dartmouth. This year Riot’s Jaclyn Verzuh is just out of high school! This past Sunday at a pickup game in the Boston area, people were talking about seeing someone who used to play with them – Fury’s Michela Meister – play on ESPN.

Can’t wait to see and hear more about the project that teams and players are organizing this year. It is going to be a fun year.

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