12 Days of College Ultimate 2024: Sixth Year Impact Players

On the sixth day of Christmas Ultiworld gave to me...the top players returning for their final hurrah!

Ultiworld’s coverage of the 2024 college season is presented by Spin Ultimate; all opinions are those of the author(s). Find out how Spin can get you, and your team, looking your best this season.

It’s time to unwrap some presents as we introduce the 12 Days of College Ultimate. For the next 12 days, we will be releasing one gift per day, though don’t count on getting any holiday fowl: it’s all college ultimate. From highlight videos to player chatter to a season predictions, we’ve got a little something for everyone. On the sixth day of the 12 Days of College Ultimate, we highlight some of the best players returning for their last year of extended eligibility.

D-I Women’s

Washington Element’s Anna Cauchy at Stanford Invite 2023. Photo: Rodney Chen – UltiPhotos.com

Anna Cauchy (UW)

Cauchy wowed the division with her performance at Stanford Invite 2023, where she and Abby Hecko led a UW squad to a big upset over UBC in quarterfinals and almost upset Colorado in a universe point semis loss. Unfortunately, she had to miss the rest of the season due to injury and we didn’t get to see her at College Nationals, but she’s back in 2024 and ready to lead UW to another top finish. The tall and athletic hybrid can fill any role and go toe to toe with the best in the division. As Element enter a rebuilding season, expect Cauchy to be at the center of their success.

Avery Lee-Pii (UBC)

Every season Lee-Pii takes the field, she gets better. Athletic, fast, and a solid thrower, it’s evident how much UBC values her by the way she’s played. In their semi against Colorado, she was tasked with guarding Stacy Gaskill and crossing to offense when needed. Lee-Pii is also coming off of a U24 experience with Team Canada Mixed and a season on the Red Flag O line. She easily fits into the O-line cutting core with Mika Kurahashi and Anna Goddu or she could play D-line and be a primary cutter defender in the absence of Andrea Moir. Either way, she will be an important piece for a UBC team that has title hopes this year.

Dawn Culton (UNC)

Somehow, the 2022 Callahan winner Dawn Culton is still playing in the college division. She’s been arguably the best player for the past three seasons and don’t expect that to change this year. In 2023, she had a Second Team All Club performance with Raleigh Phoenix, and won championships with Raleigh Radiance (PUL), USA U24, and UNC. She is going to blow you up on defense then run you around on a turn – old news, been there, seen that. Maybe the only knock against her could be her throwing, but if her throws from the national final game were any indicator (see below), she’s fixed that hole up. Good luck to anyone in the division trying to stop her.

 

Macy Vollbrecht (Stanford)

Stanford enters this season with the talent to make a deep run into the bracket of College Nationals, a center piece of that effort will certainly be Macy Vollbrecht. The PhD student is the do-it-all-swiss army knife for Superfly. She can play both ways, throw punishing break throws and hucks, sky you on defense – she was the block leader for Superfly1 at nationals in 2023. Definitely have your eyes on Vollbrecht and Stanford this college season.

D-I Men’s

North Carolina's Andrew Li catches a goal for Darkside in the 2021 College Championships semifinal. Photo: Paul Rutherford -- UltiPhotos.com
North Carolina’s Andrew Li catches a goal for Darkside in the 2021 College Championships semifinal. Photo: Paul Rutherford — UltiPhotos.com

Andrew Li (UNC)

The former three year captain is in his final season of eligibility and poised to make history with Darkside. His journey embodies the Darkside ethos: Li started his career as a bench-warmer and worked his way up to being a universe D-line player. Li is a tenacious handler defender, known for getting shoulder high layout blocks as well as being a capable handler with big throws. When asked about Li, his teammates highlight his leadership, teaching ability, and team-first mentality. His presence on and off the field will be key as the team looks to earn another championship. Regardless of the outcome of the season, Li’s Darkside legacy will be one of hard work, exemplary leadership, no shorts, and Carly Rae Jepsen.

Calvin Brown (Cal Poly SLO)

There isn’t a throw in the game Calvin Brown can’t hit. That much has been evident for the past several years. What’s grown is Brown’s understanding of the game on both sides of the disc. After an ACL tear cut short his 2021 and 2022 seasons, Brown returned last season and found a home on the D-line where his athleticism and intelligence combined for bunches of blocks, and his cannon of a right arm provided a counterattack that could score quicker than volunteer scorekeepers at Nationals could look up from their tablets. In his final year of eligibility, Brown looks to take SLO past their previous plateau to the team’s first finals appearance.

Henry Ing (Pitt)

The Player of the Year returns, hoping to not only match the individual brilliance of his play from last season, but to carry Pitt farther than their 2022 stopping point at the National quarterfinals. The best defender in the division, Ing can erase his opponent’s biggest threat. He’s not too shabby on offense either, frequently highlighted as an initiating cutter in Pittsburgh’s isolation heavy offense. Pitt will rely on his skills in the backfield this season, as the O-line’s returning players (Aidan Landis, Peter Kotz, and Scott Heyman) are bigger downfield threats.

Noah Krumme (UNC)

Highlighted last season as a 5th year to watch, Krumme was the do-everything centerpiece Ohio State needed him to be. Now he follows in the footsteps of Collin Smith and Dylan Hawkins as late-career transfers to UNC. Expect him to play both ways and end up with a ring. Rinse. Repeat. Yawn.

D-III Women’s

Michigan Tech’s Laura Lyons in prequarters of the 2021 D-III National Championships. Photo: Paul Rutherford – UltiPhotos.com

Laura Lyons (Michigan Tech)

With the large number of liberal arts schools without graduate programs, having players who stay beyond four years is rare. Having a player stay for a 6th year is even rarer. This season, Michigan Tech, a small engineering school which competes in the North Central due to proximity, will be returning Laura Lyons as a sixth year player. Lyons has been around the Michigan Tech Superior Ma’s since their inaugural season in 2018. While her commitment has been primarily to the Michigan Tech’s track and field team, where she runs the 400 and 4×400 meter races, she is planning to join a young Superior Ma’s team for the 2024 season. Although she was sidelined for 2023 Nationals due to an injury she sustained at the end of the first half of the game-to-go against Winona State at Regionals, Lyons has a natural predisposition for catching the disc in the end zone. Before getting hurt in that game, Lyons led the Ma’s to take halftime over Winona State, a game which they went on to win. Back at 2021 Fall Nationals, Lyons’s last time playing in games with recorded stats, she led the team with eight goals across two recorded games, all eight of which came in a 15-10 victory over Lehigh. With three more years of experience, Lyons could be a serious game changer against Nationals-caliber opponents. Lyons is a phenomenal player with incredible speed and endurance. Outside of her on field contributions, Lyons acts as a spirit boost to the squad and has helped foster the carefree-when-we-can-be vibe that Michigan Tech prioritizes.

D-III Men’s

Whitman Sweets’ Tyler Shanahan lofts a throw in pool play of the 2023 D-III College Championships. Photo: Kevin Wayner – UltiPhotos.com

Tyler Shanahan and Noam Gumerman (Davenport)

Due to the substantial amount of liberal arts schools that do not have graduate programs, the D-III division rarely sees any fifth-years. Those who played theirs have proven to make a major impact on their teams. Kyle Henke played for Oklahoma Christian where he won the 2021 POTY and is arguably the best player the division has ever seen, while Missouri S&T’s Mike Lahmeyer and Ray Mauntel both earned multiple Ultiworld awards last season. Graduate students Tyler Shanahan and Noam Gumeran decided to take a chance on Davenport– the new ultimate scholarship-giving school. Shanahan was the main handler and Donovan nominee for Whitman last season and his crafty throws led the Sweets to a Northwest Regional Championship. Gumerman is a tall, talented cutter who brings plenty of strong experience in the division, competing at Nationals three times with his former team Brandeis Tron.2 The two will provide the Panthers with plenty of veteran experience for a team comprised of mostly freshmen. If Davenport is to make Nationals in their first year as a team, look for Shanahan and Gumerman to make big plays and use their familiarity on the big stage to push the team out of the Great Lakes region.


  1. And across all teams that made the bracket. 

  2. Don’t forget his experience at CHUF, self described “America’s High School Team” 

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