2021 Mixed Club Coach Of The Year

Celebrating the best coaching performances of the season.

Ultiworld’s 2021 Mixed Club Awards are presented by Five Ultimate; all opinions are those of the authors. Please support the brands that make Ultiworld possible and shop at Five Ultimate!

Ultiworld is pleased to announce our annual Mixed Club Awards. While we consider both regular season and postseason performance, because of the nature of the Club Division, we weight success in the Series and at Nationals above all else — this year even more so than most. The Club Awards are selected based on input from Ultiworld reporters, contributors, and editors.

Player of the Year Award
Offensive Player of the Year Award
Defensive Player of the Year Award
Breakout Player of the Year Award
Coach of the Year Award
All-Club First Team
All-Club Second Team
Club Awards Voting Breakdown

2021 Mixed Club Coach Of The Year

Drew Johnson & Bryson Fox (Seattle Mixtape)

Seattle Mixtape's Drew Johnson. Photo: Sam Hoatling -- UltiPhotos.com
Seattle Mixtape’s Drew Johnson. Photo: Sam Hoatling — UltiPhotos.com

For a team that many people associate with incredible athleticism and raw talent, anyone who plays against or really takes the time to watch Seattle Mixtape knows that they are also one of the most strategic and systematically effective teams in the game. Excellent coaching — headed up by former-player-turned-signal-caller Drew Johnson, who was joined later in the season by Bryson Fox — helped make Mixtape one of the winningest teams in the division in 2021. Although team strategy decisions extend beyond coaches and Mixtape in particular is replete with players whose ultimate wisdom helps shape the team’s game plan, Johnson and Fox are well-deserving of this award for their roles in driving the adjustments, strategy, and consistency of the lethal Mixtape squad.

When your record for the season is 26-4 and only one of those losses came to anyone other than the eventual National champs, you know you’re doing something right. This success was most certainly by design. It was readily apparent that Johnson, Fox, and members of team leadership poured over tape to do detailed scouting and made real-time adjustments to their plans when opponents were gaining momentum that, more often than not, flipped the momentum of their game back in Mixtape’s favor. A prime example was what Johnson and the team were able to accomplish to win Pro Championships. After falling by a slim margin in their first loss of the season to Fort Collins shame. in pool play, Mixtape came out swinging in the tournament final with adjustments that neutralized shame.’s strengths, particularly their dominant woman-matching cutters, and beat down their O-line to avenge their loss with a decisive 15-9 win.

Coming into Nationals as the third overall seed, many still pegged Mixtape as the team to beat, despite having to first navigate a competitive Pool C where they faced Washington D.C. Space Heater, Boston Sprocket, and San Francisco Polar Bears. Even though each of these teams brought their A-game against the Seattle squad, none were able to keep things especially tight — Mixtape maintained level heads, stuck to their game plan, and inevitably outclassed each opponent to clinch the W. Fox and Johnson were key to their team’s steadfast dominance, assigning smart matchups and lines that set them up for success without burning out their top players or letting play stagnate. You could often observe the coaches taking players aside and suggesting key adjustments or even just helping them keep the energy up when games got tough. With a roster so full of passion, experience, and ultimate IQ, knowing which buttons to press with which players at which times is a difficult needle to thread, but one that Johnson and Fox mastered to keep their side focused on the big-picture goal.

That they were never able to solve crosstown rivals BFG in three attempts during the Series will no doubt sting, but no one else could either and Mixtape put up by far the best fight — they posted the three closest scores the national champs encountered at any point in the Series. Had just one point swung the other direction in their semifinal, we may have seen the trophy travel to a different home in Seattle, with Mixtape being lauded as the dominant program of 2021. That’s enough for Johnson and Fox to take home at least some hardware this season.

Isabel Cruz

1st Runner-Up

Wes Williams (Denver Love Tractor)

Denver Love Tractor's Wes Williams, while competing at 2021 Masters Championships. Photo: Kristina Geddert -- UltiPhotos.com
Denver Love Tractor’s Wes Williams, while competing at 2021 Masters Championships. Photo: Kristina Geddert — UltiPhotos.com

If the measure of coaching is improvement in a team over the course of a season, then Denver Love Tractor‘s Wes Williams is a clear choice for the Mixed Division COTY podium.

2021 was a striking contrast to recent Love Tractor seasons, where they opened the regular seasons strong, but faded during the Series and missed out on Nationals. Conversely, Love Tractor struggled mightily at this year’s Pro-Elite Challenge; they were still trying to sort out their roster, failing to make the bracket and losing to three teams that didn’t make Nationals. Denver looked much better at the Pro Championships, but the field was also stronger, and while they went 0-5 in round-robin pool play, they put it together in the fifth-place game to get revenge on Public Enemy, a positive omen of good things to come. Heading into the Regionals, they were mostly counted out of the South Central bid sweepstakes, but the results of their season-long development paid off and they played close to Nationals no.1 seed Fort Collins shame. in semifinals before beating Austin Waterloo and Public Enemy to qualify in the region’s second spot.

Williams brought to Love Tractor a flexibility in approach that seemed missing in recent years, adding a second offensive system and giving players more agency within well-defined structures. Arriving at Nationals as a bottom seed, Love Tractor not only had gameplans to counter their opponents’ strengths, but were able to adapt strategies over the course of games to their advantage. The result was a series of upsets to take second in their pool and then navigating the backdoor bracket to finish in the top eight.

Scott Dunham

2nd Runner-Up

Patrick Sherlock (Philadelphia AMP)

Philadelphia AMP's Patrick Sherlock. Photo: Kevin Leclaire -- UltiPhotos.com
Philadelphia AMP’s Patrick Sherlock. Photo: Kevin Leclaire — UltiPhotos.com

It’s common problem in sports journalism that voter fatigue tends to impact annual award recognition; no one likes rewarding the same top performers year after year, even if they are deserving of ongoing praise. This phenomenon may be even more pronounced when it comes to coaches –dragging a previously unheralded team to new heights is a much more visible and honored accomplishment than keeping an existing title contender on course for yet another successful campaign.

Such is the brilliance of Patrick Sherlock that no such voter fatigue has yet set in with Ultiworld staff. This marks the fifth consecutive year the Philadelphia AMP head coach has landed on our Mixed COTY podium, a record of sustained excellence not matched by any other individual in our awards.1

The two-time defending champs entered this season having seen the reigning Player of the Year, another 2019 First-Team All-Club selection, and a 2017 All-Club performer all decamp for new pastures, then had to navigate the national championship tournament with their long-time on-field talisman and leader sidelined through injury.2 Yet there AMP was on Friday at Nationals, once again challenging in the bracket. It is to Sherlock’s great credit that even without all that firepower, his team exuded the type of confidence that only comes with intense preparation and a total trust in the team’s strategic direction. That levelheadedness and never-ever-give-up work ethic mirror Sherlock’s own, reflecting the incredible volume of work he has done over the past half-decade to cultivate those characteristics at all levels of the Philadelphia ultimate scene.

That long-term program building is why AMP had no trouble finding a new cadre of talented young pieces to capably plug the holes left by former stars. It also hints that Sherlock’s inclusion on this list may not lapse anytime soon.

Steve Sullivan

  1. Though Kami Groom is close, having missed out on our POTY podium for the first time in five years — and only missed by one spot. 

  2. Anna Thompson, Sean Mott, Michael Ing, and Raha Mozaffari, respectively. 

  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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