November 7, 2023 by Edward Stephens, Jake Thorne and Patrick Stegemoeller in Awards with 0 comments
Ultiworld is pleased to announce our annual Club Awards, starting with the Club Player of the Year in each division. While we consider both regular season and postseason performance, because of the nature of the Club division, we weight success in the Series and at Nationals above all else. The Club Awards are voted on by Ultiworld reporters, contributors, and editors.
Our All-Club teams recognize the top performers across the division. Our First Team and Second Team display the top seven and next seven players who had the best seasons. As our voting process is ordered, the top vote-getters for All-Club honors function as the ordered list in our Player of the Year voting — our highest individual award.
Player of the Year Award
All-Club First Team
All-Club Second Team
Defensive Player of the Year Award
Offensive Player of the Year Award
Breakout Player of the Year Award
Coach(es) of the Year Award
Club Awards Voting Breakdown
Snubs and Superlatives
2023 Men’s All-Club First Team
Christian Boxley (Washington DC Truck Stop) Player of the Year
Christian Boxley’s progression from “interesting development piece” to “Player of the Year in the Men’s Club Division” has been rapid, culminating in a 2023 season where he hit some of the highest benchmarks the sport has to offer both as an individual and in a team context. With several prime years remaining it is exciting to think about where his game goes next.
Can he push Truck Stop’s offense to an even higher gear? What does he look like in another context (at the very least there are surely Worlds teams in his future where we’ll find out…)? Can he find new ways to be dangerous while still absolutely never turning the disc over? These are all fun questions we can entertain because he’s answered the biggest one: yes, he can be the best player on a title winning team.
For more on Christian Boxley, check out the Player of the Year writeup.
Joe White (Chicago Machine) Player of the Year First Runner-up
You can spend all season long training for the Joe White matchup. Grind film, learn his tells and tendencies all you want, and yet you’re still going to get cooked. He put up a ridiculous 15 goals and 17 assists, with only five turnovers — how’s that for narrative? — and continues to prove he is one of the best players in the world. He’s always been an offensive machine, but he also showed flashes as an elite defender, crossing over on big defensive points and locking up fearsome matchups. Also, anybody else notice it low key looks like he’s been in the gym? The big things have always been there, but the little things are rounding out his truly exceptional game.
Raphy Hayes (Portland Rhino Slam!) Player of the Year Second Runner-up
If you didn’t watch Raphy Hayes play at Nationals, you are probably agog at the stats – with good reason. Hayes’ 15 goals, 22 assists, and five blocks make up the fattest plus-line at the tournament by a good margin. Ah, but if you had a chance to see how he gathered those daisies: long-stride open field speed, dizzying angles on his goal shots, the best on-disc playmaking in the division, bar none. Hayes has always been a jawdropper of a player, and his work in that regard this year may have topped even his previous high – his podium finish in 2021.
John Randolph (New York PoNY)
It’s official: John Randolph has become a star of the club division. Hyper-focused, turbo-charged, strong as a bulldozer, he rampaged through PoNY’s opponents from the very start of the 2023 season. Once the untouchable goal scorer of Brown’s hey-day in college, he played a much more physical role this year as one of PoNY’s primary hybrid-stoppers. His pesky defense was the key that opened the door for him to play a pressure-driven offense. Randolph never stopped knocking at the door of the end zone, and he barreled his way in more often than not. Tremendous work from a tremendous two-way monster.
Chris Kocher (New York PoNY)
After yet another season of absolutely elite production on both sides of the disc, we may need to have a historical revaluation of Chris Kocher’s place in the pantheon of ultimate players. Is he the best player of his generation in the Men’s division? He’s certainly the only one who, over the past five or six years, has been in the inner circle of POTY contenders every single season. 2023 marks the sixth consecutive season Kocher has found himself on All-Club First Team. Maybe we save the big picture talk for another time, but for now don’t let the consistency of Kocher’s greatness inure you to it. Every time he plays, you’re watching one of the best to ever do it.
Ben Dameron (Raleigh Ring of Fire)
Who would you have guessed, before the season, would be Ring of Fire’s best player? Liam Searles-Bohs, Anders Juengst, Alex Davis, Sol Yanuck, Eric Taylor – you’re not short on choices. But Ben Dameron showed us exactly who we should have been looking toward with a Nationals performance that can be most accurately described as ‘furious.’ No one pushed harder on offense to keep the cutting in motion. No one cleared space more violently. No one used as much sheer will power to get the disc off the sideline in crunch situations. And no one stacked up the buckets for Ring this year like Dameron – seven goals, 21 assists. Wow.
Alex Atkins (Denver Johnny Bravo)
After being sidelined with a knee injury for most of the regular season, Atkins returned for Nationals and was immediately Bravo’s most impactful player. He is this generation’s “love to play with him, hate to play against him” guy. He gives his teammates the push they need to be the best version of themselves. Very few players in the division can guard him because he is an exceptional thrower that is also a dangerous threat going deep. Size, speed, and skill is a pretty simple set to describe, but a nightmare one to line up against.