D-III Men’s 2024 Coaches of the Year

Celebrating the best off-field leaders of the season.

Each year, Ultiworld presents our annual College Awards. Our staff evaluates the individual performances of players from throughout the season, talking to folks around college ultimate, watching film, and look at statistics, voting upon the awards to decide those to be honored. The regular season and the college Series are both considered, with extra emphasis for performances in the competitive and high-stakes environment at Nationals.

Our final D-III award podium is for the Coaches of the Year. 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 we feel “we know it when we see it.”

D-III Men’s 2024 Coaches Of The Year

Will Savage (Williams)

Williams coach talks to his players during the final of the 2024 D-III College Championships. Photo: Sydney Kane – UltiPhotos.com

Two years ago after pool play of Nationals, former D-III editor Mike Ball had this to say about Williams: “Their youth was the best and worst thing about WUFO today, giving them the confidence to compete with anyone but the lack of experience to finish off any potential upsets.”
WUFO were a fiery but completely undisciplined team, incapable of finishing when they needed to. Will Savage then came into play for the 2023 season, and immediately made a major impact to the developing Williams squad. Savage led them from a 1-5 2022 Nationals to a 4-2 2023 Nationals.

This year thanks to a little more time, some star freshmen, and Savage’s expertise, Williams had a 5-1 Nationals with a finals appearance. What makes this coaching effort so impressive is how Savage transformed a group of players with almost no ultimate experience into a star-studded, disciplined team. Besides this year’s freshman class and sophomore Wade Buchheit, WUFO had not received any YCC players, meaning Savage had to build this year’s finalists from the ground up.

And that he did. WUFO’s offense looked the most efficient it ever has, only getting broken twice Saturday and Sunday. He had his crew running suffocating handler defense, along with strong deep defense, creating a very dangerous D-line. Although Williams loses a couple stars this year, expect them not to go anywhere far with Savage at the helm.

 – Calvin Ciorba

First Runner-Up

Matthew Graves and Keys Pattie (Richmond)

The Richmond coach talks to his players during pool play at the 2024 D-III College Championships. Photo: Sydney Kane – UltiPhotos.com

After taking another iteration of the Spidermonkeys to a semifinal appearance, Matthew Graves has earned himself his third spot on the COTY podium, and Keys Pattie his second. It’s a tale as old as time– Richmond loses a big class of star seniors, talks say they’ll be worse, and then the Spidermonkeys make the semifinals.

This year might’ve been Graves and Pattie’s best coaching performance yet, as the Spidermonkeys came into Nationals as the seventh seed, meaning they would have to play the number one seed in quarters. First, the duo helped Richmond come back from a 13-8 deficit to a coachless Bates, before even having to play the coachless Middlebury. It was then clear in quarters that the better-coached team won, as both teams were deep and disciplined. Graves and Pattie led a coaching masterclass, helping the Spidermonkeys to dominate 14-10 in arguably the biggest upset of the tournament.

From their ability to develop players, run disciplined systems, make in-game decisions, and hype their players up, Graves and Pattie know how to create and run a legacy program.

– Calvin Ciorba

Second Runner-Up

Michael Massad and Matt Forster (CHOP)

Carleton CHOP’s coach at the 2024 D-III College Championships. Photo: Sydney Kane – UltiPhotos.com

Carleton-CHOP were one of the most successful teams of the 2010s, making Nationals almost every year, including a title. However, post-Covid, CHOP looked to have lost most of their relevance, with a prequarters exit in 2021 and missing Nationals in both 2022 and 2023. Heading into the 2024 season, CHOP were barely on our top-25 radar until Carolina Kickoff, where they smacked Davidson and beat Duke.

A large amount of this newfound success can be traced back to the addition of new head coach Matt Forster. Forster entered the program and immediately made a large difference. The team worked harder in practices, they were hungrier for wins, and they turned the disc over less, all without compromising the fun, loving culture of the team. Along with Michael Massad helping lead, CHOP ended up staying in our top-ten almost the entire year and ended up with a 10th place at Nationals. Expect Carleton’s D-III men’s squad to come back into D-III relevance if Forster continues to be at the helm.

– Calvin Ciorba

  1. Calvin Ciorba
    Calvin Ciorba

    Calvin Ciorba is a D-III Men's writer currently studying Leadership and Economics in his junior year at the University of Richmond. He started his ultimate career in St. Louis, MO playing ultimate at Ladue High School and St. Louis Storm YCC, when he also created the popular frisbee Instagram account Discmemes. Now he has sold the account and plays for the UR Spidermonkeys. You can find him on twitter @calvin_ciorba for passionate takes on the "People's Division."

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