12 Days of College Ultimate: 6 Players That Will Make Your Jaw Drop

North Carolina's Dawn Culton in the final of the 2022 D-I College Championships.
North Carolina’s Dawn Culton in the final of the 2022 D-I College Championships. Photo: Paul Rutherford — UltiPhotos.com

It’s time to unwrap some presents as we introduce the 12 Days of College Ultimate. Through December 23rd, we will be releasing one gift per day, though don’t count on getting any partridges in pear trees: it’s all college ultimate. From highlight videos to player chatter to a giant bracket, we’ve got a little something for everyone.

On Day 6 of the 12 Days of College Ultimate, check out six players whose feats fill up the highlight reel.

Dawn Culton (UNC)

North Carolina’s Dawn Culton might be the most electric player in all of college ultimate. Capable of making unbelievable plays at any moment, the reigning Callahan Award and Player of the Year winner is must-see TV.

Looking to move the disc up the open sideline, UCSD makes a routine throw to a routine horizontal cut, but the play Culton makes is anything but. Flying through the air after stepping underneath the cut, Culton soars to swat away the shoulder high pass:

Dawn Culton I

Rolling back to the 2019 Nationals semifinal against powerhouse Dartmouth, Culton shows that she’s been in the big play business for years. Chasing down this slight overthrow from Tyler Smith, Culton gets off her feet to make the play with one hand:

Dawn Culton II

Henry Ing (Pittsburgh)

Pittsburgh’s Henry Ing. Photo: William ‘Brody’ Brotman — UltiPhotos.com

Pittsburgh’s Henry Ing is one of the most physically gifted players in the division. A tall, powerful frame complements elite abilities to power and shape throws.

Look no further than this example of his two-way talents: Ing skys Brown’s 6’8″ Cam Curney to save a goal, walks the disc up to the front of the endzone, and then casually bombs a full-field backhand the other way for a goal.

Henry Ing I

Below, Ing uses his quick-trigger reactions and long reach to save possession on what should have been an easy block for UNC, then launches a forehand huck for a goal:

Henry Ing II

Stacy Gaskill (Colorado)

Colorado's Stacy Gaskill in the final of the 2022 D-I College Championships.
Colorado’s Stacy Gaskill in the final of the 2022 D-I College Championships. Photo: Paul Rutherford — UltiPhotos.com

Colorado’s Stacy Gaskill was a core part of Quandary’s run to the final at the 2022 College Championships. The Olympic snowboarder overpowers opponents with elite size and strength.

Let’s start with her pulling. Gaskill may be the best in the division in this role — few can consistently place the disc centered in the end zone, giving Colorado’s defense an advantage before they’ve even run down the field.

Stacy Gaskill I

The seeming ease and simplicity of this huck assist underscores the difficulty of the throw. Throwing a perfectly weighted and shaped pass to a receiver in the same third of the field with a defender trailing by two steps is an elite skill — hang the throw in the air and the defender comes flying in to block it, put too much muscle on it and the receiver can’t run it down before going out of bounds.

Stacy Gaskill II

Jacques Nissen (Brown)

Brown's Jacques Nissen at the 2022 D-I College Championships.
Brown’s Jacques Nissen at the 2022 D-I College Championships. Photo: William ‘Brody’ Brotman — UltiPhotos.com

Brown’s Jacques Nissen might be the purest thrower in the division. Capable of placing the disc anywhere on the field with seemingly any throw shape, Nissen is a terror to plan for as a defensive coach.

Running a pull play against Pittsburgh, Nissen sees Leo Gordon plant to go deep on the near sideline and, without hesitation, releases a bending break side backhand. No matter that the mark has shifted into the throwing lane on that side, no matter that guarding Gordon is Myles Cooper, one of the fastest players in the game. Even Cooper can’t catch up to this perfect throw that drops into Gordon’s hands without him breaking stride.

Jacques Nissen I

This play illustrates Nissen’s unique ability to throw whatever he wants, whenever he wants it. Once again, he sees Gordon take off deep out of the side stack pull play and knows he wants to put a forehand out to space. But this time the defense has double covered Nissen, hoping to disrupt the first throw by filling the open side lane with an extra body. Nissen lofts the pass high, with the perfect blade edge to avoid hanging the disc so it drops before the defense can recover.

Jacques Nissen II

Will Brandt (St. Olaf)

St. Olaf's Will Brandt. Photo: William 'Brody' Brotman -- UltiPhotos.com
St. Olaf’s Will Brandt. Photo: William ‘Brody’ Brotman — UltiPhotos.com

Maybe lesser known than some of the other names on this list, St. Olaf’s Will Brandt reeled in Ultiworld’s D-III College awards last year. The 2022 First Team All-American, Offensive Player of the Year, and Player of the Year second runner-up had an exceptional season, leading his squad to the National final.

Here, Brandt uses his footwork and explosiveness to create separation on this upline move in the D-III Championship game. Despite the poach defender interrupting his cut, Brandt doesn’t give up, bursting after the disc as it glances off the defender’s fingers and making a full extension effort to score the goal, one of many plays he made en route to a three goal, three assist, and three block stat line.

Will Brandt I

In the semifinal against Berry, Brandt showed off his throwing prowess with this flick through traffic, one of his six assists in the game. Not only does he provide the right distance and turn on the low huck, but he manages to squeeze it through the slimmest of gaps in the defense.

Will Brandt II

Kennedy McCarthy (Vermont)

Vermont's Kennedy McCarthy put up a huge performance in Vermont's prequarter win. Photo: Paul Rutherford -- UltiPhotos.com
Vermont’s Kennedy McCarthy put up a huge performance in Vermont’s prequarter win. Photo: Paul Rutherford — UltiPhotos.com

Vermont’s Kennedy McCarthy is a complete player, offering a large downfield target who can clean up any pass from greedy throwers while also boasting a cannon for an arm to launch the disc deep herself.

It’s hard to know exactly what advantage the thrower saw when releasing this blade into double coverage in the end zone, save for McCarthy and her knack for coming down with such jump balls. While McCarthy doesn’t make a posterizing sky here, she gives full effort, tracking the disc through the defensive swat down to the ground, laying out to save the broken play.

Kennedy McCarthy I

Catching the disc on the near side, McCarthy sees Alexandra Greer take off deep, leaving her defender in the dust. With the mark shifting over to take away the backhand, McCarthy has to get her throw high and wide to avoid a point block yet is still able to drop it into the back of the end zone for an uncontested goal.

Kennedy McCarthy II

  1. Aidan Shapiro-Leighton
    Aidan Shapiro-Leighton

    Aidan Shapiro-Leighton is the Director of Video for Ultiworld, managing live streaming, post-produced editing, documentary shorts, and anything else that comes up for the video team. He played for Harvard Redline, Cleveland Smokestack, and Auckland Hive and now resides in New York. You can reach him via email (aidan@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@arashap69).

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