The votes are in and the 2018 European Young Players of the Year are SMOG’s Rachel Turton and Clapham’s Conrad Wilson. The pair both represented Great Britain at the World Under-24 Championships in Perth earlier this year – Rachel in the Mixed division and Conrad in the Men’s division – and represented their clubs at the World Ultimate Club Championships in Cincinnati.
They were declared winners by the voting panel, which was made up of top European players and observers from across the continent. This is the second year of the award, aimed at highlighting the level of youth ultimate across Europe and open to any player eligible for under-24 competition.
Rachel has been playing for five years after picking up the sport seriously at university in Bangor. She’s played for LeedsLeedsLeeds and Vision, as well as for Great Britain Women in 2016 at WUGC. She also coaches university teams in Liverpool, where she now lives, and helps to manage Merseyside Ultimate Club. On winning the award, she said:
“In a year where I know and have played against so many incredible youth athletes from across Europe, it’s an honour to be receiving this award! When I began playing ultimate, I watched highlight videos on repeat. It amazed me how players could move their bodies with the agility to not foul other players when going up for discs, and how they could make impossible looking catches by laying out. As the USA Callahan videos started coming out that year, I finally started to see some women’s highlights videos, and I dreamed that one day, if I worked hard enough maybe I would have a highlight reel made about me.
“I remember when recruiting new players at university, and always showing highlight reels from US men’s ultimate because that was the only available footage. Coaching at universities now, I will be showing them the submissions for the 2017 and 2018 EYPOTY Awards, showcasing the talent that we have to offer that they can then work towards. I’m grateful for the opportunity to submit, and I encourage many others to do the same next year!”
Conrad also began playing around five years ago at university in York, and also played with LeedsLeedsLeeds at the start of his career. He overcame shoulder surgery and helped to establish SMOG before making Clapham in 2016, joining older brother and long-time Clapham and Great Britain player Magnus. Conrad was similarly excited to win, saying:
“Thank you to everyone involved for the award. I wouldn’t have thought this was possible when I started playing Ultimate five years ago. I’d like to thank my family for their support, particularly my mother, the super fan, who can always be found waving a flag and cheering us on in her Union Jack trousers. I’d also like to thank my brother Magnus for introducing me to this wonderful sport, Josh Briggs for teaching me discipline and all my teammates throughout the years particularly those from SMOG and Clapham. And thanks to Conor Hogan for helping with the video as well! CU at Euros!”