The Line: Seven Must-See-TV Stars at Nationals (Women’s Division)

A starting line up of must-watch players for anyone tuning into Nationals.

Ultiworld’s coverage of the 2024 college ultimate season are 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.

The Line brings together lists of sevens from our reporting staff.

College Nationals always brings out some of the most exciting ultimate of the year. A lot of the thrill comes from the event’s gargantuan stakes, from rivalries and upsets, to the simple joy of seeing a group of young people rise together to create something larger than themselves.

There are also players whose skill, while contributing to the larger narratives at play, hold an independent appeal. These are the hi-def players who, win or lose, can’t help but stand out almost to the point of popping out of the screens. Here’s a starting line-up of seven of women’s division’s most telegenic titans.

UNC’s Erica Birdsong makes a difficult catch at the 2023 D-I College Championship. Photo: Kevin Leclaire – UltiPhotos.com

Erica Birdsong, #49 North Carolina Pleiades

Can anyone contain Erica Birdsong? The downfield star has been an impact player ever since she cleated up for the first of UNC’s three consecutive championships. One of the most feared cutters in the division, she has the footwork to get open in intense matchup coverage, the length and speed to bail out a tough throw, and the tenacity to make a play with a hand in her face. Get ready for a stunning display in the quest to bag a UNC four-peat.

Best Game to Watch: #3 UNC v. #8 UC Santa Barbara, Sat. May 25 at 1 PM CT on the showcase stream


Carleton Syzygy’s Chagall Gelfand (left) and Naomi Fina at the 2024 Northwest Challenge. Photo: Emma Ottosen – UltiPhotos.com

Naomi Fina, #7 Carleton Syzygy

Fina is built different. Every other player on this list is a kind of an exclamation point on the field – Fina is more of a run-on sentence. Her perpetual motor and fine understanding of space lead to an unbelievable amount of wide-open goals. The thing to watch, then, isn’t necessarily the catch: it’s the way she sets up her cuts, going straight at some of the most feared defenders in the country. Don’t believe me? Check out how she attacked Dawn Culton when Carleton ended UNC’s years-long winning streak in March.

Best Game to Watch: #2 Carleton v. #10 Washington, Sat. May 25 at 3 PM CT on the showcase stream


Colorado’s Stacy Gaskill rips a backhand past the Washington defender in the quarterfinal of the 2023 D-I College Championships. Photo: Sam Hotaling – UltiPhotos.com

Stacy Gaskill, #44 Colorado Quandary

As the only Olympian taking the field in Madison, Gaskill is used to the bright lights. The better to admire her comprehensive skill set with. Her legendary pulls engineered one of the biggest comebacks in recent college history (against Vermont in 2022). She skies with such confidence that she stepped up to call game on universe point against Stanford last year when she had a one-on-one matchup in the end zone. Her high-release forehands have an argument as the division’s most unguardable throw. Don’t even think about it, just tune in when Colorado is playing.

Best Game to Watch: #7 Colorado v. #1 Vermont, Fri. May 24 at 1 PM CT on the showcase stream


SUNY-Binghamton’s Jolie Krebs against Colorado State at the 2023 D-I College Championships. Photo: Kevin Leclaire – UltiPhotos.com

Jolie Krebs, #24 SUNY Binghamton Big Bear

Stop what you’re doing and watch the Jolie Krebs Callahan video. Having guided a small frisbee program to a fourth straight Nationals appearance, Krebs is poised for one last turn in the spotlight. She has taken on the burden of throwing, cutting, providing resets, and earning defensive takeaways for Big Bear her entire career – stunning all the while with both her consistency and her penchant for flashy plays.

Best Game to Watch: SUNY Binghamton v. #8 UC Santa Barbara, Fri. May 24 at 8:30 AM on the Field Pass broadcast


UBC’s Mika Kurahashi makes a diving catch at the 2023 D-I College Championship. Photo: Kevin Leclaire – UltiPhotos.com

Mika Kurahashi, #93 British Columbia Thunderbirds

While it’s not clear exactly who UBC’s most important player is – Kurahashi, Madison Ong, Anna Goddu, and Helena Tremblay all have an argument – there’s no doubt who you should keep your eyes on if you need a jolt of excitement. Kurahashi’s determination to get her hand to the disc higher than her opponent, an inch off the ground, or an instant before it sails out of bounds is legendary. She will keep the highlights coming for the Thunderbirds in Madison.

Best Game to Watch: #4 UBC v. #9 Tufts, Fri. May 24 at 10:30 AM CT on the Field Pass broadcast


Vermont’s Kennedy McCarthy celebrates at the 2023 D-I College Championship. Photo: Kevin Leclaire – UltiPhotos.com

Kennedy McCarthy, #11 Vermont Ruckus

Big-time players make big-time plays, and there may not be a single player at this year’s Nationals more big-time than McCarthy. McCarthy has long mastered the art of bodying up, boxing out, and posterizing her defenders for goals. This season, she has opened up dazzling array of heat-seeking throws to match her play as a receiver. The jaw-dropping montage in her Callahan video, as brash as it is, is actually an understatement.

Best Game to Watch: #1 Vermont v. #7 Colorado, Fri. May 24 at 1 PM CT on the showcase stream


Abigail Shilts’ UC San Diego will host Colorado for Quandary’s first tournament of the season, Presidents’ Day Invite. Photo: Rodney Chen – UltiPhotos.com

Abbi Shilts, #38 UC San Diego D-Co

Shilts has been a sensation since her tremendous freshman campaign, and she’s only gotten better. But merely being a great player isn’t what lands you on a list like this – it takes a certain panache. And boy does Shilts have it. Need evidence? Here’s the reach-back sky that earned her 2022 Ultiworld Catch of the Year honors. Not swayed? Fine, here’s the 2023 runner-up for Ultiworld Throw of the Year, a shot so unexpected and sublime that another player on this list couldn’t do anything but gawk at its majesty as it sailed by.

Best Game to Watch: #13 UC San Diego v. #16 Victoria, Fri. May 24 at 10:30 AM CT on the Field Pass broadcast

  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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