Ultimate Frisbee Association 2024 Season Preview

The 2024 season starts on Friday!

Boston Glory’s Orion Cable looks to throw against the Philadelphia Phoenix. Photo: UFA

The 2024 UFA season gets underway this weekend. An offseason that included a league rebrand, an MVP switching teams, and a new Frisbee sets up what is sure to be an exciting regular season. If you’re itching to watch every minute of action, the first game will be Boston’s matchup against Montreal on Friday, April 26th. The season will end with the league’s annual Championship Weekend showcase, set to be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, on August 23-24.

Key Storylines

The Title Still Goes Through New York

From left: the New York Empire’s Jack Williams, Antoine Davis, and Ben Jagt. Photo: UFA

Riding a 30-game winning streak, including the past two league championships, the New York Empire enter the 2024 season once again the favorites to win the title. That said, they simply did not have the most encouraging offseason. 2023 MVP Jeff Babbitt decamped to Boston amidst a contract dispute. 2022 league MVP Ryan Osgar is contemplating sitting out this season: though he is on the roster, he will not be suiting up at least for at least the first few weeks. Ben Katz and John Lithio joined other teams. Coach Charlie Hoppes stepped away from the team this offseason; in November, he revealed that downturns in his mental health made last season difficult and he is not in a place to be actively coaching this year.

But…the Empire still have the top-to-bottom most talented roster in the league. Jack Williams, Ben Jagt, Antoine Davis, and John Randolph are two-way talents who will surely garner All-UFA consideration. Brett Tan, Marques Brownlee, Elliott Chartock, Josue Alorro, and Charles Weinberg are the kind of above-average-maybe-all-star level players that championship teams need. Ethan Fortin, Shashank Alladi, Sol Rueschemeyer-Bailey, and Jeff Holm are some of the most underrated players in the league because they get less spotlight on a team like the Empire, but they would be starting on nearly every other team in the UFA. I haven’t even mentioned the Drost brothers yet, but their career success speaks for itself. They also add real handler talents in Liam Haberfield (stolen from the Atlanta Hustle) and Sean Keegan.

In short, despite an offseason of notable losses, the Empire have everything they need to win a Championship. They might actually lose a game or two along the way, but until proven otherwise the road to a title runs through New Rochelle.

New Frisbee…and Yes We Can Call It That

The UFA made a big splash this offseason, signing a long-term licensing agreement with Sport Dimension Inc. (SDI), the company that owns the Frisbee® trademark, for use of the name Ultimate Frisbee. Around the same time, the Association also began producing their own Frisbees, using molds purchased from ARIA, a disc manufacturer in operation since 2017.

Teams have practiced with the new disc since late 2023, and many players agree the disc will hold its line a bit longer than the Discraft Ultrastars the league used since its inception.

“This disc is gonna stay alive longer on some of those deep hucks and plays, just with how it carries,” Minnesota Coach Ben Feldman told Evan Lepler in this week’s Tuesday Toss. “It’ll be interesting to see how quickly players adjust, but I think anytime you change the disc, it’ll be a benefit for the defense early in the season.”

In future seasons, the league may experiment with the disc. Using different materials, making discs more suitable for adverse weather conditions, and inserting a chip to better collect throwing data are all ideas that could be explored. For this season, the disc is the same ARIA that amateur and youth teams have been using successfully for half a dozen years already, but fans can call it a Frisbee now that the league is licensing the trademarked term.

Same Challengers, New Energy

Salt Lake Shred’s Jordan Kerr. Photo: Wade Bricknell — Salt Lake Shred

If New York truly isn’t as dominant a favorite as they have been the last two years, somebody needs to step up and take their place.

Salt Lake is certainly the frontrunner after last season’s Championship Weekend push. The Shred added talent, and their experience at last year’s final four showcase could prove vital if they face similar pressure-packed situations again. Salt Lake will also host Championship Weekend this season, giving players a bit of extra motivation to get back to the league’s biggest event. Last season’s Championship Weekend host, Minnesota, certainly benefited from playing in front of a home crowd, with thousands of partisan fans all but willing the Wind Chill to gut through their overtime semifinal game. This year, Minnesota will look to build on their experience with a team that largely resembles last year’s squad.

Then there are a series of teams who missed Championship Weekend last season, but are building rosters and organizations that could have what it takes to be successful in late August. 2021 champion Carolina is retooling and expects to have more week-to-week roster consistency than they did during last year’s lost season. The Flyers also bring back a few players who took last season off, like Henry Fischer and Allan Laviolette. Atlanta and Colorado both bring renewed focus after upsets knocked them out of last season’s playoffs earlier than expected. Finally, DC is looking to get over the Empire-sized speed bump in the East Division. With budding star Elliott Bonnet joining the team from France alongside many returners from the past three years of second place teams, it will be all hands on deck to try and finally thwart their rivals.

That’s already six teams who have the potential to win a Championship, and there’s a handful more who could impress their way into contention over the first few weeks of the season. The league feels the most wide open it’s been since 2019. With so many playoff contenders, the regular season is bound to have meaningful matchups every week.

WUC: World Ultimate Championships or What UFA Campaign?

While not UFA competition, the WFDF World Ultimate Championships, which take place this summer in Gold Coast, Australia, have already affected the Association. Several players who made international teams1 are taking this season off as a form of load management. Plenty of others2 are still playing this season but definitely will have National Team service on their minds and in their training plans.

It’s been eight years since the last WUC, and we don’t really know how additional playing opportunities like preparation tournaments and practice weekends will affect those players and teams. Franchises with a higher concentration of national team players such as Toronto, New York, and DC will likely be more affected than others. Additionally, with the WUC tournament taking place the week after Championship Weekend, players who qualify will either need to leave right from Salt Lake to make it to Australia in time or leave their UFA teams facing the most important games of the season without some of their best players.

Wide Open Playoff Races

DC Breeze’s AJ Merriman pulls against New York during the 2023 UFA regular season. Photo: Leo Troconis – UFA

With two former MVPs leaving the Empire, the title race is as wide open as it has been in years.

With a bit of player movement around the edges, the race for the playoffs also feels more open in each division than it has been in recent memory. The East features a credible four-teams-for-three-spots situation with Philadelphia and Boston joining playoff favorites New York and DC. In the Central, Chicago picked up some good additions (Joe White, John Lithio, and Cullen Baker) who should help make them be more competitive with division favorites Minnesota, who add an All-Star level player in Matt Rehder themselves. The South will feature a fun three-way contest between Carolina, Atlanta, and Austin, all of whom have a team capable of winning at least a game at Championship Weekend. And the West has a similar clash atop the division with Salt Lake and Colorado each expecting to make Championship Weekend. Los Angeles and Oakland are set to renew their playoff bubble battle, and each brought reinforcements. Former players Eli Kerns and Justin Lim (Oakland) as well as Brent George and Bryan Nguyen (Los Angeles) all signed back with their team for another professional season. And they won’t be the only competitive team on the West playoff bubble. With Lukas Ambrose, Christian Foster, and Ian Sweeney joining forces up north, Seattle once again fields playoff level talent. For the first time in recent memory, no division is a foregone conclusion before the season starts–not even the East.

Where to Watch

This season, the league will be streaming every single game on watchUFA.tv. A set of the best games, dubbed the Super Series, will be free to watch on YouTube. A few teams like the Chicago Union and the Colorado Summit have also signed deals with local channels to broadcast their games on cable in local markets.

Players to Watch

Austin Sol’s Joey Wylie

Joey Wylie (Austin Sol)

Known as an athletic defender, Wylie has seen his offensive responsibility and production increase each year. Is this the year he breaks out and becomes a household name?

 

Simon Carapella (Boston Glory)

Boston Glory’s Simon Carapella

Adding Tannor Johnson-Go and Jeff Babbitt to the team should improve Boston’s already solid offensive production. Carapella excels as a cutter whether he’s running an initial look or filling space as a continuation cutter. His sense of timing in flow will come in handy for an offense sure to be integrating a few new pieces.

 

Chicago Union’s Jack Shanahan

Jack Shanahan (Chicago Union)

Chicago likewise will be adding a few new members to its offense, but Jack Shanahan is the ultimate glue-guy to help the team gel. An elite midfielder, Shanahan should be at the center of everything the Union do on offense.

 

Colorado Summit’s Noah Coolman

Noah Coolman (Colorado Summit)

Noah Coolman’s rise from “he’s a solid D-line guy” to “he’s someone we need to have a matchup for” has been fun to watch over the last couple of seasons. A fast cutter with some spark, Coolman excels on both sides of the disc and will be a key player for the Summit this year.

 

DC Breeze’s Cole Jurek

Cole Jurek (DC Breeze)

With Christian Boxley taking the UFA season off, Jurek finds himself in the right place at the right time to become a focal point of the DC offense. A tireless and fearsome cutter, Jurek is set to have a career best season.

 

Minnesota Wind Chill’s Matt Rehder

Matt Rehder (Minnesota Wind Chill)

Rehder has played nine games across two seasons over the past four years, so I’ll forgive UFA fans for not being familiar with his game (for now). An elite big, Rehder can line up on offense or defense and make the opposing team think twice about testing the deep space.

 

Philadelphia Phoenix’s James Pollard

James Pollard (Philadelphia Phoenix)

In an appearance on the Break Side Podcast earlier this month, James Pollard admitted to focusing on reducing his turnovers this season. A gun-slinger and go-getter, Pollard frequently finds himself on both sides of highlight hucks. Cutting out a few turnovers here and there could help the Phoenix get back to the playoffs.

 

Seattle Cascades’ Marc Munoz

Marc Muñoz (Seattle Cascades)

Marc Muñoz’s switch to the O-line prompted a career-best season from him in 2023. As one of the Cascades’ most committed players, Muñoz will have a big part in the success of the team this season.

 

Salt Lake Shred’s Joe Merrill

Joe Merrill (Salt Lake Shred)

Joe Merrill is back in Salt Lake after a season playing with DC. He does not have the size of the departed Joel Clutton, but his speed and energy could be a big boost for the Salt Lake defense. Of course, those same traits could lead him to reprise his role on offense with his former college buddies Jordan Kerr and Jacob Miller, making Merrill one of the most versatile and valuable players in the league.

Atlanta Hustle’s Lukas McClamrock

Lukas McClamrock (Atlanta Hustle)

McClamrock had a breakout club campaign with Atlanta Chain Lightning after last year’s pro season concluded. He earned a spot on Germany’s team at the World Ultimate Championships, and he seems to get better every time he touches a disc. Odds are he has a big season in the UFA as well.

Division Previews

East Division

DC's AJ Merriman gets the layout block on Philadelphia's James Pollard. Photo: Sammie Maygers - Ultimate Frisbee Association
DC’s AJ Merriman gets the layout block on Philadelphia’s James Pollard. Photo: Sammie Maygers – UFA

This list still starts with New York. Losing Jeff Babbitt and Ben Katz to Boston hurts, as does Ryan Osgar’s decision to sit out this season. Liam Haberfield is sure to be a big part of the Empire offense after impressing in Atlanta in 2023. Axel Agami joins as a bulldozing defender who may be a perfect fit between player personality and team scheme. Sam Jonas and Caleb Seamon are both rookies who can make an impact. And a late roster addition shows Sean Keegan will suit up for the Empire this season, giving the team another offensive weapon. The Empire are once again the favorites to win the title.

Every main character needs a good foil and DC has served in that role for the last few seasons. After years of tough outs, the Breeze are tweaking their lineups and leadership, bringing in Lauren Boyle as the head coach. French superstar Elliot Bonnet joins the team, though excitement around his arrival may be tempered by Christian Boxley’s and Ben Oort’s departures. With Rowan McDonnell, Jonny Malks, Andrew Roy, and Jacques Nissen, the Breeze have some of the best throwers in the world. They have one of the most diverse teams too, able to play their patented small-ball offense or air it out to receivers like Cole Jurek.

Battling for playoff positions, Boston and Philadelphia have taken turns looking like the next best team in the East since Boston joined the league in 2021. They took different approaches this offseason. Philadelphia made small roster adjustments, leaning on their continuity and strong buy-in to make the incremental improvements necessary to return to the playoffs. Boston went out and signed 2023 MVP Jeff Babbitt and his D-line buddy Ben Katz from division rival New York. The Glory also bring back Tannor Johnson-Go and Orion Cable. How quickly the new pieces coalesce for Boston could make a difference in their playoff standing. An early season back-to-back in DC and Philadelphia from May 10-11 will be an early test for a growing team. Philadelphia takes a lot of pride in playing the top teams in the league close–turning those one- and two-point losses into wins will help James Pollard, Sean Mott, Greg Martin, Calvin Trisolini, and company get back to the playoffs.

Montreal and Toronto are both good enough to play spoiler on any given week, but will not be favored to make the playoffs. Both teams have a handful of Team Canada players and an additional handful of players still working to reach their potential.

South Division

Carolina's Matt Tucker goes for the layout block against Austin's Kyle Henke. Photo: Matthew Brooks - Ultimate Frisbee Association
Carolina’s Matt Tucker goes for the layout block against Austin’s Kyle Henke. Photo: Matthew Brooks – UFA

Like last year, the South is a three way race between Atlanta, Austin, and Carolina (listed in alphabetical order because, yes, it’s that close). Austin has a huge schedule advantage with seven games against Houston and Dallas; because of these near-guaranteed wins, the Sol are likely to host at least one playoff game. Atlanta and Carolina picking up road wins in central Texas will be important as the difference between a win-and-in game at home compared to the searing Texas heat is significant. The other contending teams have bigger challenges: the Hustle play nine of their 12 games against 2023 playoff teams while Carolina faces a trip to DC.

The Hustle might have the best team, bringing back most major contributors from last year’s squad that looked like the favorite heading into the playoffs. Budding talents like Lukas McClamrock, Adam Miller, Hayden Austin-Knab, and Justin Burnett join established stars like Austin Taylor, Matt Smith, and Brett Hulsmeyer. Aidan Downey is on an absolute heater right now in the college division, and could be a big addition once he suits up for the Hustle. The Flyers bring back Henry Fisher, Grayson Sanner, and Allan Laviolette to reinforce their offense, and have a number of young local talents like Christian Belus, Tobias Brooks, and Matthew Nightingale itching to make their impact. The Hustle and Flyers play each other in Week One in a game sure to set the tone for both teams’ seasons.

While both teams have improvements from last season, neither Dallas nor Houston look to have the firepower to unseat a playoff favorite. Their games against each other should be competitive and entertaining, but their competitive window vis-a-vis the playoff picture is likely a few years down the road.

Central Division

Minnesota Wind Chill's Bryan Vohnoutka goes full extension to haul in the disc. Photo: Ultimate Frisbee Association
Minnesota Wind Chill’s Bryan Vohnoutka goes full extension to haul in the disc. Photo: UFA

The Central is one of the most interesting divisions in the country, with a good amount of parity among the top five teams. Minnesota brings back the core of a really solid team, but Chicago and Indianapolis both have top ends that are arguably the best in the division. The Wind Chill own the recent success and have finally coaxed Matt Rehder back to the UFA. His presence will help mitigate the losses of Abe Coffin and Marty Adams, as will the addition of Leo Sovell-Fernandez and the return of Greg Cousins, both of whom have high level club success. They’re the returning division champions and the favorites, but the race is close.

Chicago added a full starting line of high level contributors in Joe White (returning to the team after playing with Carolina last season), John Lithio, Ray Mauntel, Wilson Matthews, Cullen Baker, Jake Rubin-Miller, and Sam Gabrielson. Their ability to gel quickly and gut out tough wins early in the season (when the weather isn’t typically as nice around Central Division cities) will be helpful to earning their spot back in the playoffs. The Indianapolis roster looks quite similar to last year’s. Another year of seasoning for young stars like Lucas Coniaris, Will Wettengel, and Jeremiah Branson should bring the level of play up a notch, as will the additions of Jake Kenniv (formerly in Detroit) and John Jones (formerly in Chicago). All three teams have lots to be excited about entering the season, and their race to host a playoff game, is almost certain to make a big difference come mid-August when the regular season concludes.

Pittsburgh and Madison can win against any of these teams on the right day. The Thunderbirds’ additions of Marcel Oliart, Anil Driehuys, Dan Nichols, and Will Hoffenkamp are all a step in a more competitive direction. Madison has Kevin Pettit-Scantling returning from injury and brings back most of the young talent that has been learning and growing together in the Radicals system for the past few seasons. While neither is the favorite to make the playoffs, they also wouldn’t be out of place there.

Detroit’s solace is that with UNC Pleiades’ loss earlier this season to Carleton Syzygy, maybe streaks are meant to be broken and they might get their first win since 2017.

West Division

Seattle Cascades’ Garrett Martin looks to throw against the Salt Lake Shred. Photo: Jonathan Red – UFA

The battle between Salt Lake and Colorado is going to be incredible. Both teams have the talent and buy-in needed to be successful once there, and each feels like they’re the front runner for the coveted spot in, of all places, Salt Lake.

That’s right: Salt Lake is hosting Championship Weekend and the Shred tasted the wonder of winning an overtime game at that stage last season. Though they do lose X-factor Joel Clutton, the team brings in solid veterans like Ben Field and Joe Merrill alongside rookies from the rich Utah youth scene like Oscar Brown and Greyson Rettburg. Salt Lake has one of the strongest fan bases in the country, and will be favored to win all of their home games. Their season-opening test against DC will set the stage for their competitive season.

Colorado had one of the best offseasons in the league, quietly adding the kind of solid, no-nonsense players who will find ways to contribute around the team’s existing stars. Denny Bechis, Logan Pruess, Jeremy Knopf, Chance Cochran, David Yu, and Nanda Min-Fink will all find ways to shine this season as they orbit around Alex Atkins, Jonathan Nethercutt, and Quinn Finer. With one of the smartest coaching staffs in the league, every game against the Summit is tough on opponents.

Los Angeles loses a decent amount of secondary star power from their playoff trip last season. Marcel Osborn, Lukas Ambrose, Kevin Tien, and Calvin Brown are all important players whose production will need to be replaced. Been-there-done-that veterans Brent George and Bryan Nguyen return to the team after several seasons away, Will Turner makes the trip up north after playing for San Diego for the last five seasons, and young talent like Kobi McCracken and Tomas Fong will need to find their footing quickly for the Aviators to reach their competitive goals.

Their main challenger will be Oakland, who adapts to the UFA ruleset as well as any team in the West with their tough-to-beat zone defense. Losing Mac Hecht feels like a big deal, but bringing back veterans like Eli Kerns and Justin Lim raises the ceiling for an already electric offense. With Jace Bruner and Jason Vallee adding even more grit on the defensive side of the disc, the Spiders may have leapfrogged LA as playoff favorites out west.

The real darkhorse of the division is the Seattle Cascades. Top to bottom, they have the talent to compete at a playoff level similar to LA and Oakland, however in the past their week-to-week game rosters have been incredibly inconsistent and the team suffered from a lack of chemistry. In 2023, Marc Muñoz and Garrett Martin took control of the offense and shined in their new roles. With Khalif El-Salaam still around and additions like Ian Sweeney, Lukas Ambrose, and Christian Foster, don’t be surprised if Seattle is still lingering around the playoff picture late into the summer.

Likewise, San Diego has a number of new players signed from a resurgent UC San Diego college program. With five time All-AUDL talent Travis Dunn still in the mix and intriguing new signings in Matt Miller and Peter Lenz joining the pack, the Growlers might have just enough to hang around the fringes of the playoff picture, but they’ll need to put everything together quickly and make the most of their early season northwest road trip to have that chance.

Portland sits at the bottom of the standings and is likely to stay there as the Nitro loses nearly all of its top end. However, with new ownership and a roster full of younger talent, they could be a really fun watch this season even if they don’t win too many games.

UFA 2024 Preseason Power Rankings


  1. Christian Boxley, Raphy Hayes, Mac Hecht, Calvin Brown, Matt Gouchoe-Hanas, Troy Holland, Nate Goff are a few on Team USA. Geoff Bevan, Malik Auger-Semmar, James Lewis, and Wilkie Lewis are a few from Canada 

  2. An incomplete list includes: Ben Jagt, Liam Haberfield, Khalif El-Salaam, Dylan DeClerck, Brett Hulsmeyer, Antoine Davis, Quinn Finer, Quinn Snider, John Randolph, Rowan McDonnell, Jakob Brissette, Jonny Malks, AJ Merriman, Sol Yanuck, Jonathan Nethercutt, Eli Kerns, Phil Turner, and Anders Juengst 

  1. Alex Rubin
    Alex Rubin

    Alex Rubin started writing for Ultiworld in 2018. He is a graduate of Northwestern University where he played for four years. After a stint in Los Angeles coaching high school and college teams, they moved to Chicago to experience real seasons and eat deep dish pizza. You can reach Alex through e-mail ([email protected]) or Twitter (@arubes14).

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