These big time scorers helped ensure their offenses would keep the points flowing.
July 10, 2023 by Fiona "Scotti" Nugent and Zack Davis 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.
Our awards continue with the Offensive Player of the Year, recognizing the individual, and two runners-up, who we felt had the most impactful and productive seasons helping their teams score. They set up goals, finished off points, and produced yardage at consistently high levels against the top defenders.
D-III Women’s 2023 Offensive Player Of The Year
Maya Kalmus (Carleton)
Carleton Eclipse’s success at Nationals would not have been possible without Maya Kalmus in the central handler position. Carleton’s offensive line was hardly challenged until the final, in large part due to Kalmus’ motion with the disc. Kalmus piloted a proactive offense, anticipating her cutters’ movements before anyone else could react. She was calm under the tightest pressure from Middlebury defenders in the final, and was a reliable playmaker for Eclipse when lines started to tighten up.
Kalmus’ stats are a testament to her offensive prowess, with 26 assists thrown over the course of the weekend. If only we had further details on yardage! Eclipse were rarely faced with tight end zone sets, as Kalmus frequently put up deep OI flicks over the stack (often to ROTY runner-up Frankie Saraniti). One must wonder, is it a break throw if the force is flick? It doesn’t matter, but cutters were wide open and Carleton’s O-line was able to secure another hold.
Tess “Roo” Dolan (Wellesley)
Roo is the most electrifying player on this list. Her athletic ability is second only to her devastating field awareness. Most players with Dolan’s raw athleticism will use it like a crutch, simply muscling past other players. Dolan instead relies on her game sense and uses her athletic ability as a tool to enhance that. No open space is safe from her razor sharp cuts and she’s always exploding into them. She’s able to haul in any throw that comes anywhere within her orbit and run down – or jump for – anything that isn’t.
She’s just as dangerous with the disc in her hand as she is with the disc in the air. She can carve up defenses with her throws, hitting continuations with uncanny fluidity. She’s not a glory hunter, but the way she plays makes it hard for her not to look transcendent. What’s more is the best thing about her is she’s not just a great player, she’s a great teammate. Her team naturally rallies around her, and her attitude is infectious. She’s a true embodiment of what D-III ultimate is all about.
Claire Babbott-Bryan (Middlebury)
What more can be said that hasn’t already for Claire? ROTY, two-time POTY and now three-time national champion. She’s in the conversation for the best D-III women’s player of all time. She has it all: great closing speed on the disc, pin-point throws, and perfect field awareness. As a cutter she’s nearly impossible to guard, and will take whatever her opponents give her and turn it into a wide-open look. Despite always drawing the best defender of whatever team the Pranksters face, she’s still able to put up huge numbers.
Watching Claire play ultimate is a joy. She’s an extremely gifted athlete, but also comports herself with great spirit on and off the field. She’s the best teammate anyone could ask for, constantly upbeat, encouraging, and kind. What’s more is Claire stepped up her abilities as a leader this season, putting her teammates before herself, and elevating the team as a whole rather than trying to run the whole team through her. The Pranksters clearly place a lot of trust in each other, and that trust was rooted in the culture of Middlebury, a culture Claire championed in all aspects of her game. This doesn’t end with her fellow Pranksters either: she’s always quick with a compliment to her opponents. Look for Babbott-Bryan to elevate whatever teams she lands on in the future.