2019 Women’s D-III College Player Of The Year, Presented By VC Ultimate & NUTC

And the Player of the Year is...

Ultiworld’s 2019 Women’s College Awards are presented in part by VC Ultimate, a leading supporter of women in ultimate. They are also presented in part by the National Ultimate Training Camp, who can help prepare you to be an All-Star. All opinions are those of the authors.

Ultiworld is pleased to announced our third annual D-III College Awards. The criteria for each award can be found here — we consider both regular season and postseason performance in our selection of awards.

The Player of the Year Award and its runners-up represent the best overall performers of the 2019 season and are our highest award. These three individuals were the most impactful players in the D-III Women’s division this spring.

Links to all of the 2019 D-III Women’s Division awards will be added as awards are announced:

Offensive Player of the Year Award
Defensive Player of the Year Award
Breakout Player of the Year Award
Rookie of the Year Award
Coach of the Year Award (will be announced later this week!)
All American 1st Team (will be announced later this week!)
All American 2nd Team (will be announced later this week!)

D-III Women’s 2019 Player Of The Year

Josie Gillett (Bates)

Bates’ Josie Gillett at the 2019 D-III College Championships. Photo: William ‘Brody’ Brotman — UltiPhotos.com

Not every season sees the team with the best individual player win the National title; 2019 is one of those years. The D-III Women’s Player of the Year, Josie Gillett, may not have a gold medal on her mantelpiece but does have the story of an incredible ride over the course of the entire season. A second place finish with Bates Cold Front, as well as being named the 2019 Donovan Award winner by her peers, is nothing small. As the most talented thrower in D-III Women’s ultimate, Gillett served as the lynchpin of a Cold Front team that dominated the 2019 results and storylines from the start to nearly the end, a season-long performance that cannot be ignored.

The 2019 regular season belonged to Gillett and the Bates squad. Regardless of opponent or conditions, Bates earned win after win on huge hucks, exploiting the inside lane, and rock solid handler play from Gillett. D-III, D-I, terrible New England spring weather: none of these factors held Bates back from performing, wracking up a perfect 24-0 record through the end of Regionals. The streak continued through the College Championship tournament, until Cold Front was finally felled by an impressive, full-team effort from Oberlin Preying Manti. While not delivering a stellar performance in the final, the senior handler still showed the elements of play that are all Gillett: hucks that hit favored targets of Cameron Johson and Liz Casey; moving the disc with the quick flash of a strike or reset; a hand block thanks to unrelenting effort on defense.

Statistics also help tell the story of Gillett’s dominance, leading Bates in recorded blocks (17) and assists (37) in a total of 67 points over the Championship weekend. While down from a high of 2018’s 62 recorded assists, it points to the other core efforts of Gillett off the field: growing the talent of Cold Front from the very bottom on up. Beyond personal abilities, the talented senior has established a program that embraces new players and develops them to play at the top of their game, living up to her nickname of “Future.” Gillett put Bates on the map in 2016, the team’s first-ever Nationals appearance via the sheer force of nature that she brought to the team. Four years later, the team looks ready to continue on without Gillett cleating up for the Cold Front line.

2019 did not bring a championship title to Bates nor Gillett, but it brought other achievements and records for the Cold Front captain. As her college career closes, Gillett closes the chapter leaving behind a stronger program, a commanding stat sheet and awards list, and looking forward to an exciting future within ultimate as a whole.

1st Runner up: Abby Cheng (Oberlin)

Oberlin’s Abby Cheng at the 2019 D-III College Championships. Photo: William ‘Brody’ Brotman — UltiPhotos.com

While an Oberlin championship took the entire depth of the Preying Manti roster to earn, Abby Cheng was a fount of downfield opportunities for the team in that pursuit. Cheng excelled at getting open under or deep, providing options to her handlers and handling the disc with aplomb when looking downfield herself. Cheng elevated on offense and defense, reading discs and finding vertical space to claim as her own and maintain Oberlin possessions.

Across the tournament, the well-roundedness of her play was apparent: a triple-double with a recorded 20 goals, 13 assists, 10 blocks — against only 5 recorded turns. The steady capabilities of Cheng are a bankable quality, and one that Oberlin will look to pay continuing dividends as she returns for a fifth year in 2020 after playing U24 this summer in Germany.

2nd Runner up: Emma Piorier (Puget Sound)

Puget Sound’s Emma Piorier at the 2019 D-III College Championships. Photo: William ‘Brody’ Brotman — UltiPhotos.com

Puget Sound’s young guard is going to be a major talking point in 2020, and sophomore Emma Piorier is a major piece of the puzzle. Throughout the Championship weekend Piorier showed off her cutting prowess, finding the deep space and separation from defenders with ease, or generating offensive flow from isolation. Even with most seniors missing due to graduation, Piorier and Clearcut were fearless in playing their offensive sets, using speed and athleticism to play for a 50-50 disc, or intelligence in reading throwers and hunting for a block.

Although felled by eventual champions Oberlin during quarterfinals, Piorier and the future of Puget Sound ultimate are certain to spell trouble for the rest of the division.

  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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