D-III Women’s 2018 Player of the Year, Presented by VC Ultimate & NUTC

And the Player of the Year is...

Ultiworld’s 2018 Women’s College Awards are presented by the National Ultimate Training Camp and VC Ultimate, as part of their season-long support of our women’s coverage. All opinions are those of the authors. Thanks for supporting the brands that make Ultiworld possible!

Ultiworld is pleased to announced our 2018 College Awards, the second year we’ve recognized the best of Division III. The criteria for each award can be found here — we consider both regular season and postseason performance in our selection of awards. Though the input of Ultiworld reporters is weighed heavily, final decisions for awards are made by the editors.

The Player of the Year Award, and its Runners-up, represent the best overall performers of the 2018 season. These three individuals were the most impactful players in the division this spring.

2018 Women’s D-III College Player Of The Year

Tulsa Douglas (St. Olaf)

St. Olaf's Tulsa Douglas.
St. Olaf’s Tulsa Douglas. Photo: Alex Fraser — UltiPhotos.com

To anyone who followed the saga of St. Olaf Vortex at the D-III Championships on their way to their program’s first National Title, naming Tulsa Douglas as the D-III Women’s Player of the Year will come as no surprise. In a division where top teams are led by strong throwers, the elite tier of throwers that win titles is best represented by Douglas and her incredible performance in Rockford.

Buoyed by a team of role players that could give Douglas the looks she wanted, and supported her in the backfield, she was free over the Championship weekend to do what she does best: by dropping signature dimes to her deep cutters and punishing marks with her backhand breaks. Along with those field-stretching hucks and force-obliterating throws, she put points on the board when it mattered, hitting favorite targets with envious ease. In three seperate games across the weekend, she directly contributed (scored or assisted) on every single point–including in the final.

The road to the final match wasn’t a smooth path either, but one that demanded the best from the St. Olaf team and Douglas. After taking second to Bates in Pool B on Saturday, Douglas and Vortex had to grind their teeth and play to eliminate a gritty Amherst squad, no. 1 seed Williams, and take down the crown of the Northwest region, Puget Sound. In each game, Douglas delivered, proving no team at the tournament could stifle the 5’ 9” handler.

But what Douglas will be remembered for is helping bring St. Olaf a victory over Bates in the final, to whom they had fallen on Saturday. On Sunday, Douglas and the rest of Vortex were in their zone, mentally and physically. And Douglas brought the casual, confident play that is quickly becoming her trademark, slowed at times but never stopped by Bates. To cap off the final with a layout block on defense and throw the title-winning score in the same point was just another day playing ultimate for Douglas.

Beyond the sheer, off-the-charts statistics of her play at Nationals–63 assists,1 averaging a whopping 9 per game; 11 goals and claiming the spot of second-highest scorer for St. Olaf–what might be most impressive is Douglas’ resilience in the face of pressure. She is a player who knows how to forget the bad throw or hand block in the moment, already focused on the task ahead. As she discussed after the final,It’s dangerous to think ahead or think behind…Be in the moment, and that is the only thing you can control, is that moment.”

2018 was Douglas’ moment to control, and with that mentality, she brought home a National title to St. Olaf. While her college career with St. Olaf is complete, Douglas has many more moments before her in ultimate left to dictate the throws and the game in her own way.

Bates' Josie Gillett.
Bates’ Josie Gillett. Photo: Jolie J Lang — UltiPhotos.com

1st Runner-up: Josie Gillett (Bates)

On the other side of the disc from Douglas in the Championship game stood Bates Cold Front and Josie Gillett, another handler at the top of her game, and rightly at the top of the division. Gillett has taken Bates to their best finish at Nationals yet, and racked up her own impressive statistics: 62 assists in only 6 games, thanks to not having to play prequarters. With the ability to read the field and either take or create the throws she wants, Gillett was a dangerous force throughout the tournament, although not quite as effective in her play on Sunday. Arguably, Gillett will be the biggest name returning in 2019, and the rest of the division should start planning on how to shut her down now.

2nd Runner-up: Haley Lescinsky (Williams)

Williams' Haley Lescinsky.
Williams’ Haley Lescinsky. Photo: Jolie J Lang — UltiPhotos.com

While Williams La WUFA failed to perform as desired at Nationals, again bowing out in quarters, they had a dominant regular season and a still-respectable showing at Nationals thanks to the versatility of Haley Lescinsky. The long-limbed senior was the player the rest of the Williams team looked to when they need heavy lifting done, and Lescinsky delivered on all accounts. Offense or defense, Lescinsky used her speed and field vision to make plays and give the rest of the field a very difficult time. While not filling up the stat sheet in the same was as Gillett or Douglas, her multifaceted talents were still well represented–at Nationals, she tied for most assists thrown by a Williams player, and caught the second most goals for La WUFA.

  1. Stat-keeping was a bit dodgy, but we are pretty sure by our count, it was at least 65. 

  1. Sam Echevarria
    Sam Echevarria

    Sam Echevarria is the Women's D-III College Editor at Ultiworld. She has been playing ultimate since 2010, starting with the Centerville HS Outsiders and later the Claremont Colleges Greenshirts. Currently based in Madison, WI, you can reach her on twitter (@sechevarria27).

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