2023 D-I Men’s Player of the Year: Pittsburgh’s Henry Ing

Recognizing the top performer of the 2023 season.

Each year, Ultiworld presents our annual College Awards. Our staff evaluates the individual performances of players 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.

We begin our awards presentation with Player of the Year, our most prestigious award. Our Player of the Year winner is the best performer of the 2023 college season, and the highest vote-getter for All-American honors. The winner is not eligible for consideration in any of our other individual awards. The runner-ups up will be identified as the second and third vote-getters when the All-American teams are revealed.

D-I Men’s 2023 Player Of The Year

Henry Ing (Pittsburgh)

Pittsburgh’s Henry Ing at the 2023 College Championships. Photo: William ‘Brody’ Brotman — UltiPhotos.com

At the beginning of April, I was standing in the neutral ground between the two Easterns semifinals when Henry Ing went after a low, overthrown deep shot. It seemed impossible that he would be able to chase it down. And even if he caught up to it, it was beyond conceiving that he could turn it into a completion. (You know where this is going, right?) He left his defender in the distant past, went full flying-squirrel horizontal, and reeled in the catch for a goal. Ing had it all the way. Looking back, it wasn’t even close to a turnover.

The sidelines erupted in appreciation. At the sound of the cheering, one of the coaches watching the other semifinal asked me what happened. “Henry doing Henry things,” I said. That’s all that needed to be said. Henry Ing has been so reliably incredible that his name works as shorthand for anything outrageous that can happen on an ultimate field.

But as we take stock of the season, it’s worth unpacking the phrase “Henry things.” A list of qualities the phrase entails: the straight line speed of a TGV, the lateral agility of a spider, the projectile power of a trebuchet, the vertical of a flea, the field vision of a championship birder. Those “Henry things” translate into a collection of showstopping on-field moments that can only be found together in the portfolio of a single player in the division. Ing’s body of work includes jukes that make handler defenders look as off-kilter as a Picasso portrait, skies that dwarf everyone else in the picture, perfectly programmed heat-seeking hucks, red zone dominator sets that could have been YouTube tutorials, bids that drew comic book onomatopoeic – WHAM! ZOWIE! – up from the turf, lock-and-key downfield and reset shutdowns. There simply wasn’t anyone else like him in 2023 – or maybe any other year either.

Ing’s raw offensive statistics from this year’s College Championships are on the modest side – 10 goals, eight assists. Don’t let them fool you .1 The impact he had on the field for Pittsburgh’s run to quarters was gargantuan. And shapeshifting. He pushed Pittsburgh forward in every conceivable way: Ing was an all-purpose hero.

Our voters, faced with such a complete package, almost unanimously selected him. But his well-rounded, thrilling game doesn’t encapsulate all of who he was on the field. The ribbons on the package are the heart, leadership, and grace he demonstrated throughout his dominant campaign. He commands not only the air, the reset space, and the lanes with his prodigious skillset, but also the respect of his teammates and opponents for the way he carries himself throughout competition. An example in all respects, Henry Ing is without a doubt the 2023 D-I Men’s Player of the Year. Go ahead and add it to the list of Henry things.

  1. Especially because the seven recorded blocks portion of his line is anything but modest. 

  1. Edward Stephens
    Edward Stephens

    Edward Stephens has an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. He writes and plays ultimate in Athens, Georgia.

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