Classic City Classic 2023: Tournament Preview

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UNC’s Ben Dameron attacks the disc at the 2023 College Championships. Photo: William ‘Brody’ Brotman — UltiPhotos.com

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Long the men’s division’s premier preseason event, Classic City Classic once again features a typically star-studded team list. Nine of last spring’s Nationals qualifiers will be in attendance, including five quarterfinalists. The games should give us a nice preview of what to expect heading into an explosive spring. The women’s division, as has been the case in recent years, is largely limited to a Southeast regional-level competition, but it also has its share of intrigue. Here’s what to watch out for!

Tournament Profile

Streaming Schedule

Full streaming details here! All times Eastern. Schedule subject to change. These games feature natural sound only, no commentary. Available for Standard & All-Access subscribers and those with 2024 College Team Packs.

Men’s Division

The primary question we – and I feel comfortable speaking for the entire college frisbee spectatorship here – want to begin to answer is which teams could emerge as a challengers to knock out UNC Darkside?

The three-time defending national champions typically use CCC to rotate veterans into new roles and distribute hefty portions of playing time to the underclassmen, so it’s unlikely we’ll get a full taste of their  back-to-back-to-back-to-back championship potential this weekend. There won’t be much to watch for on that front save for how grad transfer Noah Krumme is meshing with his new teammates and if there are any freshmen poised to make an immediate impact.

But we will get a good sense of the competition. A battered Vermont Chill side played tight with Darkside for a half in last year’s national semifinal before the game slipped away. Will they have what it takes to grind out a full game this time around? Casey Thornton, Zack Watson-Stevens, Chase Drinkwater, and Carl Crawford have all proven to be major playmakers for the team – and they might have a few more emerging for the 2024 campaign.

Chill may have played UNC somewhat closely in semis, but it was nothing compared to the scare Brown Brownian Motion put into them in quarters. Jacques Nissen, Cal Nightingale, and Leo Gordon were sensational all the way to a nailbiting universe point loss to Darkside, and they’ll return to try their hand again. This year’s B-Mo side may be even deeper than last year’s: they return Cam Curney, one of the surprise stars from the 2022 team, and should expect growth from both Emmett Young and Jake Tapper, who had fine rookie seasons in 2023.

Colorado Mamabird and Pittsburgh En Sabah Nur both entered the 2023 season with an eye on a championship but fell short of the mark in the bracket at Nationals, getting bounced in pre-quarters and quarters, respectively. Both return their biggest contributors for another ride. For Pittsburgh, the headline list includes 2023 College Men’s Player of the Year and Club Mixed Player of the Year 1st Runner-Up Henry Ing, as well as Tristan Yarter, Scott Heyman, and Peter Kotz. Mamabird, meanwhile, have lost one of their two top-line stars (Danny Landesman) to injury for the time being, but they still have the other 5th year, Calvin Stoughton. Crucially, they have considerable depth and room for improvement as they featured perhaps the best freshman class in the country last year – Zeke Thoreson, Tucker Kalmus, Carter Halstrom, Nanda Min-Fink and Ryan Shigley were all impact players – and add the best freshman recruit of the year in the form of Tobias Brooks, fresh off a fantastic performance at Club Nationals.

Like Colorado, Texas TUFF are also making the trek east from the South Central to sharpen their steel before another campaign. They had one of the strongest senior classes in the country last year and may retain enough of them to contend once again. Owen Smith, now a sophomore, was a brilliant two-way playmaker for them down the stretch in 2023: it will be good to see him start to stretch his abilities even more in the 2024 season. NC State Alpha and Michigan MagnUM didn’t reach quite the heights they had hoped for – both of them went out in pool play at Nationals – but both bring back significant talent and should be poised for a rebound.

And what about tournament hosts Georgia Jojah? On one hand, they have slid backwards, results-wise, from their 2021 appearance in the national final to successive quarterfinal and prequarterfinal exits in each of the last two seasons. On the other hand, they return pretty much all of a tremendous senior class as 5th years and could see massive leaps forward from the likes of Scotty Whitley and Kofi Reeves-Miller to bolster that unit.

And then below the bar of last year’s Nationals-level there are going to be several teams vying to elbow their way into the frame. We won’t get into all of them here, but suffice it to say that seeing the start of the sophomore campaigns of Christian Belus, Diego Collazo, and Stewart Kelley (UNC Wilmington) and Adam Grossberg (Georgia Tech) are worth keeping an eye on. These could be franchise cornerstones for future Nationals programs.

Women’s Division

The sum total of 2023 Nationals representatives for the CCC women’s division is a lonely one: hosts Georgia Athena. Athena, however, could be one of the more intriguing teams in the entire division as they return their top end and add a lot of depth from 2023. Is this the year they push through as a top 10 team, knocking on the door of being top 5? Senior Fiona Cashin is good for one stone-cold stunner of a highlight reel play every game, and sophomore Quincy Booth is already a superstar: she led the division with 37 (!) assists at 2023 Nationals as a freshman and was clearly the best player on Atlanta Ozone this past club season. Keep an eye on Sami Chambers as a potential third star to add to the mix, as well as a host of athletic new additions.

The rest of the field – a Southeast suite plus South Carolina and College of Charleston – will look to measure themselves against the Athena standard. This should help us get a sense of what the Southeast regional pecking order looks like heading into the spring and, more importantly, whether any other team will have the potential to earn a second bid for the region.

  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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