Back for another round!
December 22, 2022 by Edward Stephens and Alex Rubin in Preview with 0 comments
Ultiworld’s coverage of the 2023 college ultimate season are presented by Spin Ultimate; all opinions are those of the author(s). Find out how Spin can get you, and your team, looking your best this season.
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 season predictions, we’ve got a little something for everyone. On Day 11 of the 12 Days of College Ultimate, Edward and Alex highlight a baker’s dozen of the 5th and 6th years who are definitely going to make their marks on the college game this season.
One of the under-sung narratives of the college season each year is how different schools benefit (or don’t!) from players squeezing out one final year of eligibility. That’s even more of a factor in 2023 because of the pandemic extension: anyone who lost a season in 2020 or 2021 and meets all other college eligibility requirements may play a 6th year! That’s one more year of development, one more year of conditioning, one more year of chemistry, one more year of maturity.
Ella Juengst, UNC
Of course you could throw D-line rocks Sydney Rehder and Dawn Culton in on this one, but it’s worth it, at least for a minute here in December, to focus on one of the college game’s unique talents: a cutter that no one in the division has yet found a way to keep out of the end zone. Juengst’s sense of timing and space is unparalleled, and she has the drive (both mental and muscular) to break past anyone – not just to the front cone, but to any spot on the field.
Bailey Shigley, Colorado
Injuries have unfortunately forced Shigley off the field for much of her college career, but coming back for one final hurrah with Quandary might just be what the team needs to dethrone perennial favorites UNC.
Clara Stewart, Northeastern
A spot on this summer’s U24 team should tell you everything you need to know about one of the best throwers and leaders in the game today. As the do-everything centerpiece for a Northeastern team once again on the edge of the Nationals bubble, Stewart is sure to get plenty of volume and attention. With elite club experience in her back pocket, Stewart is sure to rise to the occasion and elevate the play of her teammates.
Sarah VonDoepp, Vermont
Much of the hype surrounding Vermont Ruckus’s rise to the top of the women’s division has centered around the receiving talents of Kennedy McCarthy and the potential of Emily Pozzy, who dazzled as a rookie last year. The rock at the center of the Vermont offense, though? VonDoepp can handle anything thrown her way. A steady force capable of the occasional moment of “wow,” VonDoepp will help Ruckus translate its breakout experience last season into a 2023 that sees the team among the division favorites.
Cam Curvey, Florida State
Curvey got a lot of minutes for the powerful Seminole Ladies last season. Playing on a short rotation, she got used to doing a lot of heavy lifting. That was valuable training for what FSU is going to need this season: lots and lots of touches, tough catches, and blocks from Curvey. The good news? She’s proven able to handle it. Expect big numbers from the 5th year.
Madison Ong, British Columbia
There is a *lot* to like about what UBC is bringing to 2023 – which is, apparently, just about everybody from the 2022 run. Top of the list has to be the return of Ong, a proven offensive star who will absolutely tear your defense to pieces sprinkling dots all over the field. She is going to be a big, bright focal point for the Thunderbirds.
Kevin Tsui, Pittsburgh
There’s another 5th year on Pitt who is going to get more of the headlines (and already has during this 12 Days series) but it’s worth taking a step back from Ingfest to celebrate the return of Kevin Tsui to the squad. He was injured for 2022 and took on a kind of assistant coach role that he was good at… still, this is a player you want on the field. He’s an offensive spark plug, always ready to make something happen when the movement gets gummed up, and his bulldog mentality and big energy are infectious on defense. Pitt are simply a better team when Tsui cleats up.
Dylan Hawkins, UNC (formerly NC State)
If the Twitter noise for his U24 exclusion didn’t clue you in, Dylan Hawkins is the real deal. After four seasons toiling away as a five-tool offensive force for in-state also-rans NC State1, Hawkins is making the switch over to (the) Darkside. Add in a season as a serious minutes-earner on local club outfit Raleigh Ring of Fire, and Hawkins comes in ready to fill in whatever role the Darkside staff ask of him. With the air of a classic late-career ring hunter, Hawkins just might be the lift UNC needs to remain atop the men’s division.
Sion Agami + Noah Krumme, Ohio State
Ohio State went from two premier Agami brothers down to one when Sion graduated a couple of years ago. Now that Axel has also moved on from school… Sion is back for grad school! Agamis are forever! While it isn’t clear yet how much last year’s underclassmen depth are going to develop into Nationals-caliber players this season – although it could be a bounty – Leadbelly are in great hands with Agami’s signature creative offense. And let’s not forget about Noah Krumme, who drew praise not only for Ohio State last spring, but also for his excellent play in the club division for Cincinnati Omen.
Jacob Miller, BYU
It seems like Jacob Miller has been playing college ultimate forever, and now he will help carry BYU into the post-Jordan Kerr/Bryce Merrill era. With successful seasons for college, club, and pro teams in his back pocket, Miller is going to be a force this season. A powerful initiator and a capable defender, Miller can play all over the field. Contrary to the high-flying BYU attack, Miller comes off as a very deliberate, calculated player. A respected leader, Miller’s presence around this BYU team is sure to help them stay focused on their goals as they continue to be a top-five program in the men’s division.
Eli Standard, Vermont
In his first year of college ultimate, Eli Standard won a championship with Brown. Since transferring to Vermont after that first year, Standard has helped build up a Team Chill program to the point where it too could win a national championship. While they might not be consensus picks, Standard’s return to the team is a big boost as the program looks to improve on its prequarters exit in 2022.
Calvin Brown, Cal Poly-SLO
One of the nice surprises for 2023 is that, apparently, we are going to get one last season out of Calvin Brown. He stormed to prominence with a superb turn as SLO’s emergency center handler during his freshman year in 2019 – only to have Covid take away his next two springs. At the 2021 December Nationals he suffered an injury that took him out of action for nearly a year, and we worried that it was going to end his college career. It’s great to have him back as the key player for SLO in 2023. There are few handlers in the college game whose throws open up the field the way Brown’s can.
I’m kidding-Alpha made Nationals the entire time Hawkins was there ↩