The best signal-callers and program builders in the college game this season.
July 21, 2022 by Michael Ball in Awards with 0 comments
Ultiworld’s 2022 College Awards are presented by the National Ultimate Training Camp; all opinions are those of the author(s). NUTC helps young players become better athletes and community members.
Each year, Ultiworld presents our annual College Awards. Our staff evaluates the individual performances of players and coaches from throughout the season, talking to folks around college ultimate, watching film, and look at statistics, voting upon the awards to decide those to be honored. The regular season and the college Series are both considered, with extra emphasis for performances in the competitive and high-stakes environment at Nationals.
Our final award podium is for the Coach of the Year. While the award goes to the head coach, we recognize that could just as easily represent “Coaching Staff of the Year” as so many teams have added more and more sideline-savvy consultants to their roster. Coaches can impact the game in so many ways — tactics, motivation, communication, personnel management, program development, skill-building, etc. — and it can be hard to divine what exactly each has contributed to their team. But good coaching is something that we feel that ‘we know it when we see it.’
D-III Men’s 2022 Coaches Of The Year
Winner: Garrett Taylor (Oklahoma Christian)
Apparently, winning one National Championship is good enough to earn 1st runner-up Coach of the Year honors. Winning a second title in one school year makes you a unanimous selection for the top spot on the podium for this award.
Even the most untrained ultimate eye could see the impact Garrett Taylor had on Oklahoma Christian this season. Actively pacing the sideline in his white Crocs, walking out to the line to talk to his defense before every pull, Taylor is one of, if not the, most involved coaches in the division. His endeavors weren’t without purpose; Taylor had a unique defensive game plan for each opponent, and he made sure his players were optimized en route to their second consecutive title.
While there was a good bit of continuity between the two championship teams, there was also a lot of turnover. Taylor had to reconfigure the Eagles’ offense after the loss of Kyle Henke, and the unit barely missed a beat. His investment in the development of the D-line in the fall paid off this spring, with young players like Emmanuel Kameri and Sammy Roberts turning into DPOTY runner-up and ROTY, respectively.
Regardless of your feelings about the OC scholarship program, Taylor deserves credit for successfully executing it. While not the founder of the program, Taylor is the one who has taken it to its current heights. The hours he’s put into working with his players to make sure their situations off the field are handled is reciprocated by the effort they put forward for him on the field.
Hours after winning his first championship in December, Taylor was already working on the next season. That work paid off in a second championship. With an entire summer to work on his third, we can’t wait to see what Taylor has in store for next season.
Robert Bradham (Berry)
After winning Coach of the Year in the fall, Robert Bradham returns to the podium this spring as our 1st runner-up.
It’s easy to make an argument for Bradham to retain his place at the top of the COTY podium. After making quarters in the fall, Bradham built on that success by taking Berry one step further. The Bucks lost in the semifinals in Milwaukee, with their only two losses at Nationals coming against the eventual finalists. Berry had their most successful regular season as a program and ended it with their highest finish at Nationals; only a back-to-back national championship winning coach could supersede that resume.
Berry’s success in the fall was built on maximizing the ceiling of the top end of their roster; their growth in the spring came from Bradham raising the floor of the rest of the roster. The Bucks got key breaks at Nationals from lines that included players who barely touched the field in Norco. Players like Chris Gmeiner and Aidan Meek grew from role players into stars.
Berry is losing a sizable chunk of the roster next season, but with Bradham at the helm, don’t be surprised to see them back at Nationals again next season.
LCDR David Stira (Navy)
Every season, we see a new team make Nationals that’s been knocking on the door for quite some time. Navy Poseidon have steadily been building a competitive program over the last half decade, and they finally broke through the glass ceiling to Nationals this year. Steering the ship for Poseidon on this journey to the top of the division has been LCDR David Stira.
Stira’s influence on Poseidon is evident both on the field and on the sideline. Between the lines, Stira’s used his playing background with teams like John Doe to teach the game to a group of players who largely have little to no playing experience prior to attending the Naval Academy. On the sideline, Stira has created a team culture that perfectly toes the line between exuberance and discipline.
We’ve documented the additional requirements of being an ultimate player at one of the military academies. Under Stira’s leadership, Poseidon overcame those obstacles and reached the pinnacle of the division. This wasn’t a flash in the pan, either; Stira has been building this program to this point, and they aren’t going anywhere any time soon.