The masterminds behind the division's best teams
November 15, 2023 by Jenna Weiner and Graham Gerhart 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.
The Coach(es) of the Year closes our annual awards. As so many teams have added more and more sideline-savvy consultants to their roster with less asked of a single head coach, this has essentially morphed into “Coaching Staff of the Year.” Coaches can impact the game in so many ways — tactics, motivation, communication, personnel management, program development, skill-building, etc. — and it can be hard to divine what exactly each has contributed to their team. But good coaching is something that we feel that “we know it when we see it.”
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 Coach(es) of the Year
Ty Aderhold, Yiding Hou, and Molly Roy (Washington DC Scandal)
When it comes to candidates for a comeback team, a program with a pair of national titles and nearly a decade and a half of elite success wouldn’t typically rise to the top of the list. And yet there’s a real case to be made that Washington DC Scandal do indeed qualify, especially after rocketing from nonexistence to the peak of the division in two short seasons. Such rapid ascension wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of Ty Aderhold and the rest of the DC coaching staff, who expertly guided the potent, but largely unproven, Scandal roster this season.
While having two player of the year frontrunners in Claire Trop and Kami Groom would make any coach’s job easier, don’t mistake Scandal’s success as being simply star-driven. Aderhold and company had to set their stars up for success while supporting a handler corps who played largely on rotation and without a prototypical dominant center handler. For many teams, that could have spelled disaster for their offense, but in all but a few instances the Scandal offense purred even with their superstar pair largely operating downfield.
Though it’s certainly the most visible aspect, a coach’s impact on their team isn’t just on the field, and it’s off the field that the Scandal coaches did arguably their best work. It’s easy to forget, but Scandal just didn’t exist as a competitive team for nearly three full years, and it takes work and time for a team to put itself back together after a break like that. To be able to instill the sense of a process in your team while also creating an environment such that your program can make its first finals appearance since its last title nearly a decade earlier seems like an impossible ask on its face. But that’s exactly what the Scandal coaching staff achieved this season and they deserve all of our plaudits for doing so.
– Jenna Weiner
Matthew Doyle (Vancouver Traffic)
If it weren’t for an amazing season from a team that almost wasn’t a team after the pandemic, this award was Vancouver Traffic’s to win. The work put in by Matthew Doyle and the rest of the leadership team in Vancouver was evident this season, and resulted in one high after another. This was the first time in Traffic’s history they’ve defeated a team like Denver Molly Brown at a tournament, and they followed it up with a win over San Diego Flipside, another top 8 team. At Northwest Regionals they were the tournament champions despite the heavy competition, and only Seattle Riot even got close to matching them. In San Diego, Traffic got over the hump against their Canadian rivals and beat the Toronto 6ixers for the first time as a program, leading up to the closest quarters game of Nationals where Vancouver hung tight with San Francisco Fury until the final few points of the game. Traffic’s roster doesn’t have the same name recognition as a lot of the teams they’ve procured wins over this season. They’re a balanced, spirited team who aren’t afraid of any opponent and had the discipline this season to go toe to toe against the best teams in Northern America. If the team can build upon this success, there’ll be plenty more to write about the work Doyle has done to get his team in this position.
– Graham Gerhart
Alyssa Weatherford, Dan Hourigan, and Robert Brazile (Boston Brute Squad)
In this writer’s eyes, there are three main things that make a coaching staff great. First, they have to be good people-managers, cultivating a cohesive team culture that holds up regardless of who comes through the door or when. With their late season integration of German stars Levke Walczak and Lilli Trautmann the Brute Squad coaching staff — Rob Brazile, Dan Hourigan, and Alyssa Weatherford — sailed well clear of that hurdle without issue. Second, a great coaching staff comes up with team-specific game plans. How else to explain Boston’s superb performances at Nationals season after season? In particular Brute Squad seemed to level up in a whole new way over their four days in San Diego this year, culminating in their dominant final victory. Speaking of, third, the best coaching staffs are the best at making adjustments in and between games, and what better example than turning a pool play loss into a title win, and at a cantor at that. Those are the pieces that make a great coaching staff great, and the Boston Brute Squad coaching was more than great this year.
– Jenna Weiner