Year-In-Review 2015: In Our Own Words

We asked our on-the-ground reporters to share some of their favorite moments from 2015.


All year long, Ultiworld reporters tell the stories of the players and teams in ultimate. Rarely do they have the opportunity to tell stories of their own. So we wanted to take a moment to allow the team to talk about a memorable moment or two from 2015. Here are their stories.


Tad Wissel, Pittsburgh-based reporter

The college open game isn’t exactly a wellspring of positivity. It’s easy to be a good teammate when things are going well. But when the O-line starts getting broken, headcases, insecure sophomore haters, and other toxic personalities start to come out of the woodwork. Games – even seasons – are won and lost on a team’s ability to stifle behavior like this. Adversity does not always bring out the best in a group of two dozen 20 year-old dudes.

It wasn’t just Jon Nethercutt and Ben Snell or the unbelievable depth or the great specialists that propelled North Carolina to a national title in 2015. By the end of spring head coach Mike Denardis and Darkside cultivated the strongest (and yet most bizarre) mental in the country.

UNC had the Towel Squad. They had slappy spikes. They consistently yelled “Happy birthday!” after they turned it over in bracket play of Nationals.

And every player on the roster bought in.

These tactics all worked to perfection. Carolina played fearlessly loose throughout the tournament and took home hardware.

Ultimate is a copycat game… but I’ve got a feeling that, for most teams, learning how to poach a side stack will be easier to learn than how to prevent people from screaming “What the fuck are you doing?!” when a teammate throws away a deep shot.

Preston Thompson, Atlanta-based reporter

A trip to London for the U-23 World Championships was filled with lasting memories. But the one that may be most poignant came when India pulled off their first win of the tournament against Ireland.

This team had their travel visas denied multiple times, and accepted only days before they were scheduled to leave. They camped in the damp cold and had their luggage rained on in transit to England. But after all of that, they never lost a single smile, and a few days later when they won the spirit award it was like they had won the world championship.

Spirit of the Game was not something they managed to keep track of, or an idea that they kept in mind. It was a lifestyle that they lived on and off the field. I couldn’t deny an invitation to the India team dinner after their win; that mindset showed itself in their hospitality and willingness to share their story. This team reminded me why ultimate is what it is to me, and I can never thank them enough for that.

A quick shout out to the ultimate community in Australia, which donated dozens upon dozens of cleats and discs so that Team India could happen.

Katie Raynolds, Chicago-based reporter

I put the big headphones on in the booth. We run a sound check. I arrange my reams of notes, setting out the obsessively detailed rosters. Ian Toner, a seasoned pro, smiles and talks me through everything. And we’re live, at the All-Star Tour’s latest stop in Denver, CO.

Unlike our very own Wayne and Garth on Sin the Fields, doing any form of live recording terrifies me. Writing words is fine, but saying them live? Nope. Even if I know my stuff, even if I prepare, I still feel cripplingly awkward. I’ve pre-planned jokes before going on air… they’ve never worked. But none of that mattered when I got the invite to do commentary for the All-Star game against Molly Brown. College stars? Women’s ultimate? Denver? Yes please.

As we break for halftime, I pry feedback out of Toner. Am I doing okay? Am I stranding him between points? Are we sure I’m actually putting nouns and verbs together?

Apparently I was, and the rest of the game went smoothly. It was the scariest and the best moment of my year, full stop. And I didn’t even have to use any of my jokes.

Scott Dollen, Austin-based reporter

The sun was setting on day three of Nationals, and I had just pounded out my Men’s final preview. I closed my computer, left the press tent, and realized I hadn’t eaten in about nine hours.

For the first time, I became acutely aware of the plates of BBQ my fellow reporters were eating around me. While I had been told earlier it was for the players, everyone eating insisted that I should “just walk in, they don’t mind.”

Of course, as soon as I got to the cordoned-off area, there stood the one obstacle hindering me from getting my BBQ: a stern-faced volunteer, who was asking where my food ticket was.

“Erhm soooo I was told that I could just walk right in? I’m with Ultiworld?” as I desperately tried to name drop. The food bouncer was having none of it.

Then a mustachioed figure appeared – none other than Lord Jonathan Nethercutt himself. For whatever reason, the Lord ushered me into the food line with a wave of his hand and an “I think we can let him in.”

So thanks to Jonathan Nethercutt, I got to eat that night. Big fan of that dude.

Simon Pollock, Seattle-based reporter

I know quarterfinals was an historic round at Club Nationals, but I could only see what was in front of me.

Truck Stop vs. Revolver.

Truck is on fire from the opening pull. Alan Kolick and Seth Wiggins are running their brains out and getting resets against the toughest man defense in the division (maybe in the world?). Peter Prial, Nicky Spiva, and Jeff Wodatch are working like crazy to get open and score. Rico Johnson throws an upwind score for a break to make it Truck 5-3 Revolver, and they stay on top for an 8-5 half. Nate Castine goes down for Truck during that point, which is a big loss, but Truck is still in command.

It’s all business for Revolver after half. I don’t know how you could ever feel confident about beating them before the game is actually over. All of a sudden Beau’s going both ways with Cassidy, it’s 10-10, and then in a blink, it’s double-game point.

All the parity, strategy, and communication in the world doesn’t stop what happens next. Ashlin Joye has the disc at the brick mark off the Truck pull, wind in his face, and you know it’s going to Beau.

Daniel Prentice, Tallahassee-based reporter

It was probably for the best that Club Nationals was my first experience covering ultimate. The work is so mentally taxing that if I had any sort of expectations going in, I’m not sure I would have survived the four day haul. Prequarters was an especially fun round, when the only other person covering the Women’s Division – the one and only Keith Raynor – was doing play by play for the streamed Schwa-Ozone game. That left me, the rookie, with the other seven games to cover on my own.

I’m not sure there is any way to accurately depict what it was like in that absurd two hour span, certainly not by someone with the writing skills of a lowly sports writer, anyway. I’m also not sure I’ve ever felt more accomplished than I did after publishing seven game recaps at once. “The Grind,” as we at Team Ultiworld call it, was one of the most challenging and fun experiences of my life and a perfect introduction into the world of sports coverage and the Ultiworld family (few things are as bonding as the shared experience of The Grind.) I’m not sure how many Ultiworld reporters’ first assignment is covering Club Nationals, but I wouldn’t want to have started any another way.

Charlie Enders, Minneapolis-based reporter

How can I possibly choose one thing from from this absolutely insane year? I’ve got two, actually.

1. Attending Club Nationals for the first time. The ferocity and intensity of the games in Frisco blew my classic-flight mind. If you haven’t been, GO. You won’t be disappointed.

2. At Chicago Sandblast, my team (Mrs. Fannypack) was playing its final game. We were playing for 12th or something, so the game was pretty inconsequential. The sand was scalding (90ish degrees) and the wind was howling (30 mph-ish). While Mrs. Fannypack’s tenacity was unquestioned for the earlier games, at this point we were ready to be done and get in the water. Meanwhile, huge black clouds had slowly been making their way towards the beach throughout the day. It was a race against time. Long story short, we made a team decision that our needs for a refreshing dip in the lake outweighed our desire to play the last two points of a game we were probably going to lose. We ended the game early, sprinted to the water, and swam for three minutes before the lifeguards whistled for everyone to get out of the lake. Despite the short swim, and despite one of our players stepping on glass during a game, that hot day of playing bad, windy ultimate was completely justified by that moment.

So yeah. 2016 you’ve got a lot to live up to.

Keith Raynor, Atlanta-based editor and reporter

Back in March, I flew to Seattle for the Northwest Challenge, where I was housed by Katie Raynolds’ mother, Laura. She’s a bit of a legend as far as ultimate mom’s go, and Katie’s like a kid sister to me, so it all looked great.

Laura also has three cats and I’m allergic. Predictably, I eventually started showing symptoms one morning and Laura was kind enough to give me some allergy meds before we headed off to the fields. As Katie and I picked up Zack Smith, I started to get a funny feeling.

The world began to feel warped and distorted. My body felt sluggish and uncontrollable. Lethargy and fatigue set in on me and I wondered who layered a slow motion effect over my perspective. I futilely tried to maintain conversation with Zack and Katie, but my words were slurred and my thoughts disjointed. I have never been drunk at 7 AM; this was a new feeling. It was horrible. I had to be reporting and watching games in about 30 minutes, but my senses were nine shots deep. Katie soon figured out the meds Laura had given me didn’t have “non-drowsy” printed anywhere on the box.

A couple cups of coffee and 30 minutes extra rest in the car mostly set me straight, but I’m not sure I can be entirely held responsible for things I said or tweeted during round 1.

Alex Rummelhart, Chicago-based analyst and reporter

The article “25 Tips for Being a Clutch Role Player” had just been released on Ultiworld; it was my first time doing any kind of content like that, and I am fairly certain it was the first of the new Tuesday Tips section. The response I got from that article was different than anything I’d ever had before on a piece I had written. Several of my friends and fellow players emailed me or posted about how they enjoyed it and how it had helped them.

It made me realize that a lot of ultimate players are in the same boat — searching for content that can help make them better. Even more, younger players need content to help them learn because there is simply so little online about the way the game is played. I was very excited to start being able to share my teaching and coaching skills, as well as my own player experiences with others who thought them interesting or helpful.

Patrick Stegemoeller, Washington DC-based reporter

2015 was the year that I got called up into the big leagues, so to speak, at Ultiworld. It meant reporting from huge tournaments, getting the chance to do play-by-play on the US Open live stream, and writing an article in which the powers that be actually let me use the phrase “arousing in a way you feel sort of uncomfortable with.” What a year.

It all culminated in the quarterfinals at club Nationals. As each game from that epic round got crazier, everyone on the Ultiworld GroupMe collectively started to realize that something special was happening, that this was a real moment we were witnessing. Once the games ended, the excitement over what we had just witnessed turned into a sense of purpose to share with the ultimate community what we had seen.

Hopefully one day soon ultimate fans will be able to watch a round like that live, flipping back and forth between amazing games March Madness style. That just isn’t the reality in 2015, with most fans stuck at work or in class, scrolling through Twitter desperately trying to get a contact high off of Nationals magic.

In 2014, that was me. Being on the other side of the equation in 2015 was eye-opening for so many reasons, but the feeling I had following that quarterfinal round was the most sublime. Being able to convey – in some small way – the drama, the insanity, and the sense of moment to people like 2014 me was one of the most incredible experiences of my year.

That, or convincing the video team that they should use “Muthafucker” for the Day Two highlights. That was dope.

Charlie Eisenhood, New York-based editor

I have been persuaded by Keith Raynor to deliver my thoughts in a listicle format. So, without further ado, here are my Top 10 Ultiworld Moments Of 2015.

10. Eating the smoked pig and watching magic tricks at the Elite-Select Challenge.

9. Getting my rental car upgraded to a convertible Mustang in Tampa at Warm Up.

8. Jumping on a last minute flight to Denver for South Central College Regionals.

7. Making it to Austin for the first time for Centex.

6. Playing with team Sin The Fields at Miami Vice.

5. Getting to call some incredible games, including Pitt/UNCW (Easterns), Oregon/Stanford (Stanford Invite), and Machine/Ring (Nationals).

4. Earning Southwest A-List for 2016.

3. Spending time with the next generation of stars at YCC and the National Ultimate Training Camp.

2. Having celebratory BBQ with the reporting crew after the National Championships in Frisco.

1. Working all year with a staff that just keeps getting better!

  1. Ultiworld

    Ultiworld is the premier news media site dedicated to the sport of ultimate. This article includes the work of a number of our staff or contributors that have been identified within the piece.

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