These players put everyone on notice
November 13, 2023 by Jenna Weiner, Graham Gerhart and Keith Raynor in Awards with 0 comments
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 Women’s Division Breakout Player of the Year
Caroline Tornquist (Boston Brute Squad)
Caroline Tornquist has been on Brute Squad since 2021 but judging by internet chatter alone, this year she set her stamp on the scene. Highlights of Tornquist were everywhere online, mirroring how she was everywhere on the field. There were games for Boston this season where Tornquist was the team’s best player, which is a massive step up from the roleplayer position that she had carved out previously. It’s safe to say Boston wouldn’t have won the title without Tornquist, especially as her handblock set up the break to win the game against Scandal. She also added two goals, two assists, and two other additional blocks in the final for good measure. That’s the mark of a star.
Tornquist’s ascension didn’t come out of nowhere. This wasn’t some “who’s heard of her?!?” come-up. Instead, Tornquist put in the work to be great, and it paid off in a massive way. To hear her tell it, she practiced and visualized her on-mark defense and pushed herself to become more of a playmaker in the same way that she was in college. Boston was looking for players to shepherd them into the next phase of greatness as a team, and Tornquist was ready for the call. If folks are looking for the blueprint of how to go from good to great, there isn’t a better example than Tornquist currently.
– Graham Gerhart
Blaise Sevier (Washington DC Scandal)
Rewind back to 2021, where Blaise Sevier broke out on the college scene with an All-American campaign at Virginia. It was sort of a weird time — coming back from an extended break and without a regular season, a recipe for veteran “breakouts” — and alas, Sevier was in her final year of college competition, rendering her unable to take home a BPOTY. Now, however, she’s right in the wheelhouse. You’d be forgiven if you saw some of Sevier’s play this season and mistook it for higher profile, POTY-quality teammates Claire Trop and Kami Groom. The same bursts of speed and absolute obstinance when faced with a potential drop are core to what make her game so effective. That penchant for saving misthrows, second and third-effort plays, and coming up clutch will serve her well as she draws a bigger target from opposing teams, a larger section of fans, and a growing group of grateful teammates.
– Keith Raynor
Marge Walker (Washington DC Scandal)
Scandal took an unconventional approach this year as they relied on a relatively untested group of handlers to guide their offense, but with Marge Walker as their pivot point, that gamble paid off. The lanky Wisconsinite stepped up as DC’s center handler in only her second season with the team and directed the flow of traffic with vision and poise. While her numbers may not jump off the page, if we kept close track of secondary assists, Walker may have well been among Scandal’s leaders with how often she set her teammates up for success. Over the course of their highly successful second season back, Scandal asked Walker time and again to run the show from the backfield and time and again she stepped up to the task. While DC didn’t have a dominant handler this year, they may have just found their central handler of the future after Walker’s breakout performance this season.
– Jenna Weiner