Ultiworld Club Awards 2023: Breakout Player of the Year (Men’s Div.)

New stars are emerging in the men's division

Ultiworld is pleased to announce our annual Club Awards. 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 Breakout Player of the Year may be the hardest-to-define award that we dole out each year. We aim to recognize players typically 25 years old or younger who weren’t widely expected to have a major impact on the club season at the start of the year. While their teammates or local community may have known about their talent level, their performance in the 2023 season thrust them into the national consciousness in a way that raises expectations for their contributions for years to come. Without strict parameters around what constitutes “too well known” at the start of the year, our voters are given the opportunity to decide for themselves who best represented their definition of a true breakout season in the club division.

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 Division Breakout Player of the Year

Simon Carapella (Boston DiG)

Boston DiG’s Simon Carapella makes a grab under pressure from Truck Stop’s Alexandre Fall in the men’s division quarterfinal of the 2023 Club Championships. Photo: Kevin Leclaire – UltiPhotos.com

What do the following players have in common: Peter Prial. Ty Barbieri. Leandro Marx. Thomas Edmonds. Raphy Hayes. JJ Edwards?

If you guessed that they led Nationals in goals scored in the five years heading into the 2023 season1, congratulations, you are a true frisbee history nerd. But you’re also only half-right: the other thing they have in common is that none of them scored as many goals at Nationals as Simon Carapella did in 2023. To find a player who found the end zone as often as Carapella at this year’s tournament (21) you have to go all the way back to Ben Lohre in 2016, an all-club performance.

That’s simply unbelievable from a player making his Nationals debut. But Carapella is kind of an unbelievable player: a perpetual motion machine with the twitch reflexes of a professional gamer and the ability to get the disc over and over and over again against bigger players. There wasn’t a defender in the world who could hang with him on the goal line for a red zone possession.

He made a big splash with DiG, and this could just be the beginning of a magnificent career. Think of the arcs of Joel Schlachet or (more recently) Anders Juengst to get an idea of where Carapella could be headed. That’s for the future, though. For now, Carapella is nothing less than the crowned emperor of every 800 sq. yard patch of grass you can put four cones around in this sport.

-Edward Stephens

First Runner-up

Conor Tabor (Denver Johnny Bravo)

Denver Johnny Bravo’s Conor Tabor releases a backhand in the men’s division semifinal of the 2023 Club Championships. Photo: Brian Canniff – UltiPhotos.com

Johnny Bravo’s leadership did extremely well to make plenty of personnel adjustments throughout 2023 as they tweaked their way to another deep bracket run at Nationals. None of them, however, carried the impact of entrusting Conor Tabor with the keys to the offense at the end of the season. Those of us who had paid attention to his career at Colorado – and, to a lesser extent, to his time last season with Bravo and with Boulder Lotus before that – knew he had a nice repertoire of throws and could be relied upon to make a play every now and then. But very, very few of us indeed could have been prepared for the level of responsibility and audaciousness he showed at Nationals this year. Essentially out of nowhere, Tabor led Bravo in assists (16) by a huge margin – several of them highlight-reel throws – minimized turnovers (5), and was tenacious as a mongoose in the reset space to keep possessions alive. It is no overstatement to say that they would not have reached semis without him.

-Edward Stephens

Second Runner-up

Tobias Brooks (Raleigh-Durham United)

Raleigh-Durham United’s Tobias Brooks tries to jump in a score. Photo: Kevin Leclaire – UltiPhotos

You know that feeling you get when you’ve definitely seen the future? That’s how it felt to watch Tobias Brooks, recently matriculated college freshman, take the field against some of the best talent in the club division. All the teenager did was post a double-double, absorb the brunt of every defense’s attention, keep play moving through heavy contact, and show the poise of a 10-year club veteran. It really was an astounding performance for a player that age – and there is no surer bet in all of ultimate that we’ll keep seeing Brooks making plays under the brightest lights.

-Edward Stephens


  1. Edmonds and Hayes tied in 2021 

  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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