The Best Newcomer award is designed to award the best player who arrived on the elite scene in the last year. Some of these players will be brand new to Nationals, others will have played at Nationals for a lower-ranked team in a very different role before and others might have moved here recently. Anyone who played at an elite level in places like the USA, Canada or Australia before moving here is ineligible, as is anyone who has played a prominent role on a team that’s reached the Nationals semi-finals before. While this award is probably the hardest to nail down, what we’re most looking to recognise is people who played a role that they weren’t necessarily expected to play and who improved throughout the season.
Third place: Grisel Jayapurna, Oxford Ultimate
Grisel was a total beginner when the season started, but became a solid role player for the Oxford team that finished sixth at Nationals by its end. Despite having only four months of experience, she packed in as much work at extra sessions as possible and progressed impressively in such a short amount of time.
Second place: Megan Daly, Leamington Lemmings
Megan, one of the Lemmings captains this season, is one of the players who was able to continue developing during 2020 and that work paid dividends in 2021. She previously played on the Bristol Women’s development squad before making the Great Britain under-24 women’s team that went to Heidelberg in 2019, but this was her first full season playing club ultimate and she was a vital part of the team as Leamington Lemmings made a statement on a national stage.
WINNER: Amelia Edwards, Leamington Lemmings
Amelia has been playing for Great Britain since making the under-17s team in 2016. This season she played a central role for Lemmings after previously playing with Mighty Hucks, and was named female MVP of the season for Lemmings at only 18 years old. She also made the Great Britain mixed team that was heading to Denmark for the European Indoors Championships, so 2021 was an excellent season for a player that looks to have the ability to join the very highest level in the UK sooner rather than later.
Third place: Nat Oldfield, Bristol Women
Still a student at Bristol University, Nat was a crucial part of the D line for Bristol as they won the national title this season. She took on tough matchups downfield and was an important deep cutter after the turn, using her height effectively on both sides of the disc.
Second place: Emily Potter, Spice
Emily played with Great Britain under-24s in Heidelberg and has become one of the best defenders in the women’s division. Her performance in the National Cup final against LMU was particularly notable as she got block after block against players with bags of experience at the highest levels in Europe, she’s one to watch in the next few years starting with Beach Worlds in LA where she’s playing with GB Women.
WINNER: Lynden Chiang, Bristol Women
Lynden took on many of the most difficult match ups in Bristol’s title-winning season, match marking some of the best cutters in the country as well as playing in the middle position in some of Bristol’s zone looks. She has played for Hong Kong mixed before but didn’t make Bristol’s team for the postseason in 2019, and from there made a huge impact on the division in 2021 by becoming one of Bristol’s go-to players.
Third place: Rhodri Williams, Devon
The next in a long line of Airbadgers to make an impact on the club scene, Rhodri’s game is best defined by one word: athlete. He played on the D line for Devon as they made the semi-finals of Nationals this season and will be on the training squad for the GB Mixed team ahead of Beach Worlds next season. Now at university in Sheffield, his ability to get blocks will only get better as he continues getting experience at the highest level.
Second place: Eddie Mason, Chevron Action Flash
Eddie played a significant role on Chevron’s D line this season, his first with the team, as one of the handlers controlling points after the turn and one of the two main pullers alongside Canadian import Sam Cameron. His defence on handlers was another asset as Chevron reached the final at Nationals, and it looks like the feeder path from Birmingham University is still a fruitful one for Chev.
WINNER: Chun Lee, Smash’D
Chun, a national champion at Sussex University, has played for Brighton before but his emergence this season as a steady, reliable leader for upstarts Smash’D has shown a different side to his game. He was one of the main O line handlers for the youngest team in the division that also finished fifth at Nationals and performed well in some big games at Euros; the future is bright for both player and team.