Recognizing the top performer of the 2023 season.
July 3, 2023 by Michael Ball in Awards with 0 comments
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-III Men’s 2023 Player Of The Year
Oliver Kraft (Colorado College)
The best player on the best team of the season is a decisive pair of qualifications: anybody who watched Colorado College Wasabi this year will agree that Oliver Kraft is the clear D-III Men’s Player of the Year.
It’s rare that a unanimous POTY winner begins the season completely off our radar. While we certainly deserve some criticism for our lack of awareness here, we have an excuse: Kraft didn’t play at Nationals in 2022 due to breaking his face at practice. In Kraft’s Donovan video, his Wasabi teammates wrote: “D-III men’s was saved from having to play against him (last year). This year, they are not so lucky.”
These words proved prescient, as Kraft was an absolute monster at Nationals. His stat line is remarkable: 4 goals, 23 assists, 11 blocks on just 10 turnovers. He finished 6th in assists despite playing mostly on defense all weekend. We broke down Kraft’s masterful performance on defense in the semifinal, but he played that level of defense all weekend, shutting down every opposing team’s best handler.
When the Wasabi O-line got broken, Kraft was quick to cross over and provide a stabilizing presence. Whether playing offense or defense, the thing that stood out about Kraft most this season was that the game was always played at his pace. He always seemed in control, whether corralling a matchup or impressing his will on an opposing defense. It always seemed like the game was being played at Kraft’s desired tempo.
Kraft’s leadership was on display all season, and his play and presence elevated his teammates, playing a major role in their championship. His teammates said it best in his Donovan nomination: “Oliver plays and leads with a humble and contagious stoicism unparalleled by anyone else on the team. In all Wasabi contexts, Oliver holds himself and his peers to an extremely high standard of humility, fair-play, kindness, hard-work, and perseverance.”
There was no debate amongst our team. Kraft’s force on defense, composure and production on offense, and leadership make him a unanimous selection as our 2023 D-III Men’s Player of the Year.