Ultiworld Club Awards 2023: Defensive Player of the Year (Mixed Div.)

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 awards continue with the Defensive Player of the Year, recognizing the individual, and two runners-up, who we felt were the top defensive performers this club season. Whether through generating blocks, shutting down options, helping out teammates, or all of the above, these defenders stood out doing the tough work that too often go unrecognized.

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 Mixed Division Defensive Player of the Year

Conor Belfield (Seattle BFG)

Seattle BFG’s Conor Belfield reaches to deflect a pass at the 2023 US Open. Photo: Sam Hotaling – UltiPhotos.com

With his versatility, tenacity, and tireless conditioning evident across the entire season and Nationals, Conor Belfield firmly established himself as the division’s best defender and as a key player on Seattle BFG. Playing both ways for a team that made the semifinals or better in every Triple Crown tournament this season, Belfield played his best in the brightest moments and shifted BFG’s locus away from their typically excellent offense (it was still excellent this season) and closer to their utterly dominant defense.

Taking tough covers in match-up sets and commanding the deep space in zone looks both vocally and physically, there wasn’t a challenge Belfield was too meek to meet this season. His eleven blocks led the mixed division at Nationals and it wasn’t that close; nobody else reached double digits. Blocks do not always tell the entire story, and Belfield’s importance to the BFG defense hinges on more than just takeaways. His ability to cover wide swaths of the field allows players closer to the disc to pinch in, take risks, and hunt blocks knowing that Belfield won’t just cover for any mistakes, but will excel no matter the situation thrown his way. A third year player, Belfield is just entering the prime years of his career and should be a fixture on this list for seasons to come.

-Alex Rubin

First Runner-up

Aubree Dietrich (Fort Collins shame.)

Fort Collins shame.’s Aubree Dietrich vies for possession against Seattle BFG’s Leah Bar-on Simmons at the 2023 Club Championships. Photo: Rodney Chen – UltiPhotos.com

In previous seasons with shame., Aubree Dietrich excelled as an O-line mainstay. However, when she got promoted to D-line this season, she thrived. While having only seven recorded blocks for her season does not seem like a lot, it’s all about the timing of those blocks. Dietrich made sure her D’s mattered, getting each of them in crucial moments in big games. Hell, two of those blocks happened in shame.’s Nationals semifinal match against BFG1. Don’t let her signature bow in her hair fool you, as she can be a daunting presence on defense. When she took the hard matchups, she generated enough pressure to force them to make difficult cuts if they wanted to get open, she rarely allowed her matchups the opportunity to get free in the deep space, and she kept them covered stride-for-stride the entire time.

-Laura Osterlund

Second Runner-up

Adam Stautberg (Ann Arbor Hybrid)

Ann Arbor Hybrid’s Adam Stautberg (right) goes up against Fort Collins shame. for a disc at the 2023 Club Championships. Photo: Kevin Leclaire – UltiPhotos.com

There’s a new sheriff in town! Nathan Champoux had been a fixture of this list for the past two seasons, but was finally usurped by his own teammate nonetheless. All of Hybrid’s defenders had moments to shine over the course of the season, but Stautberg stood out for his relentless drive, sheer athleticism, and trustworthy play. While some defenders rely on poaching schemes or playing a block-getting position in a zone, Stautberg is an old-school lockdown defender. He finished second in the division with nine blocks (and would have had one more had his incredibly layout block in the national final not been called back on an unrelated foul), and often took on opposing team’s toughest MMP matchups. Like Belfield, Stautberg is entering the prime of his career and could be a fixture on this list for the foreseeable future.

-Alex Rubin


  1. arguably the team’s biggest game/win of their season 

  1. Alex Rubin
    Alex Rubin

    Alex Rubin started writing for Ultiworld in 2018. He is a graduate of Northwestern University where he played for four years. After a stint in Los Angeles coaching high school and college teams, they moved to Chicago to experience real seasons and eat deep dish pizza. You can reach Alex through e-mail ([email protected]) or Twitter (@arubes14).

  2. Laura Osterlund
    Laura Osterlund

    Laura picked up a disc her senior year of high school and hasn't put it down since. She played on the mixed/open team at Bethel University where she graduated with a journalism degree. Based out of the Twin Cities, MN, you can find her engaging in all levels of Ultimate: working with Minnesota Strike, playing mixed club, and grinding at local ultimate and goalty leagues. Her ultimate accomplishment - besides helping start a women's league (coming spring 2024) - is winning Z league with Big Blue.

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