tSG Awards ’21: Best Newcomer

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.

MIXED

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.

WOMEN’S

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.

OPEN

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.

tSG Awards ’21: Player of the Year

The award that recognises the player who performed at the very highest level in each division. These players all had fantastic seasons and were all very worthy of recognition, but there can only be one winner. Well, four winners…

MIXED (MALE-MATCHING)

Third place: Sam Vile, Deep Space

Sam’s ability to not only keep the disc moving but to take decisive shots downfield and gain yards in chunks was a huge reason that Deep Space were able to reach the Nationals final. He’s surrounded by great talent on the O line – Leila Denniston, Conor Hogan, Nina Finley and Gus Morse to name only four – but he’s the conductor of the show, keeping everyone else on the same page and dictating the tempo.

Second place: Eddy Codd, SMOG

Eddy stood out this year precisely because he didn’t always stand out. He was always in the right spot, always able to offer a good option and almost never the reason a point turned south for the SMOG O line. He was reliable in the deep space, he was reliable with the frisbee and he was reliable when the disc turned and he needed to play D. None of this is to diminish his ability, he’s a fantastic cutter and very difficult to stop when the disc is in the air, but he’s the kind of player that every great team needs; a player who excels in his role and fills in every gap that the team needs them to.

WINNER: Nick Williams, SMOG

The addition of Nick from Chevron was a huge boost SMOG, adding a Great Britain player with longstanding ties to the team going all the way back to his university days in Durham. His speed, defensive ability and cutting threat added a dynamic dimension to the D line that was crucial to their title win. His block deep on Gus Morse in the final was an example – Gus is one of the best deep cutters in the division and, despite giving up several inches in that matchup, Nick went up early and came down with the disc. He can match up against any cutter in Europe and feel good about his chances, something that is going to be important for SMOG as they head back to Cincinnati next year.

MIXED (FEMALE-MATCHING)

Third place: Helen Thompson, SMOG

SMOG’s new captain was another excellent addition in 2021. She kept the disc moving around the field and used her throwing ability to drive the offence forward. Her ability to break marks and beat her defenders into power positions added another player capable of running a point at any given time, giving the already strong handler group for SMOG a shot of adrenaline. She’s also a very solid defender on the turn, and an all-around player that makes a difference for whatever team she’s playing on.

Second place: Leila Denniston, Deep Space

One of the toughest marks in the mixed division, Leila had another excellent year for Deep Space. She’s tall and quick, a lethal combination for deep defenders trying to stop her attacking the endzone. She’s also a good thrower and an excellent defender, giving her the ability to attack the opposition in whatever way is needed. Her ability to take the top off defences was a driving force for Deep Space, and she’ll be one of the leaders driving the team as they build towards Cincinnati next season.

WINNER: Tessa Hunt, SMOG

Maybe the most difficult player to defend in the division, what Tessa did to very good defenders at Nationals was almost rude at times. She’s developed into a good thrower, particularly when going deep, and her outstanding athleticism means she can defend anyone she needs to. It’s her cutting prowess that really stands out, though, as she just runs past people to get score after score, and if they actually can keep up with them she just goes over the top to sky them. A tour-de-force performance in the Nationals final put the cherry on top of an excellent season.

WOMEN’S

Third place: Rupal Ghelani, SYC

It takes a special player to be considered for the Player of the Season despite not making the final at Nationals – it’s a conversation that has been had many times in many sports, but team and individual success are so difficult to disentangle in a sporting context. Rupal, though, is one such player. She seemingly has fewer and fewer weaknesses every year, a testament to her dedication and work ethic to continue improving. She had another brilliant season for SYC in 2021 and there’s no reason to expect her to stop improving at this stage.

Second place: Molly Wedge, Bristol Women

A spectacular addition to an already excellent team, Molly added exactly what Bristol needed to win back the title they won in 2018. She’s a very good thrower but it’s her ability downfield on both sides of the disc that sets her apart. Her ability to get open and generate yards and positive plays in high-pressure situations was absolutely crucial, particularly in the final, and her defence was unbelievable all season. With her in the fold, Bristol will have a chance in any game.

WINNER: Carla Link, Bristol Women

Carla has been one of the best players in the division for the last few years, and been one of the players people have known about as an up-and-comer for even longer than that. In the last few seasons her dedication to consistent improvement has elevated her game to another level. She’s a good defender and can cause problems downfield, but there’s no better player in the division at running a game, breaking marks and driving the disc downfield. Another player with a spectacular performance in the Nationals final for a Bristol team missing her longtime teammates and favourite targets Alice Beeching and Bailey Melvin Teng, her partnership with Molly was crucial. They’re deservedly our top two.

OPEN

Third place: Ollie Gordon, Clapham Ultimate

Ollie has played with Clapham since 2014, and this season diversified to go onto the O line as a downfield threat. His height and athleticism made him a perfect fit in the role. He was open whenever Clapham needed him to be, he was able to make big plays but perhaps most importantly he was able to make run-of-the-mill plays, the basic stuff that looks easy when an offence is flowing well and is vital to teams winning. When you’re playing the kind of opposition that Clapham plays, getting everyone’s best shot, that stuff definitely isn’t easy. That it looked easy was testament to how well Ollie played.

Second place: Justin Foord, Clapham Ultimate

Justin is maybe the best player to come out of the UK. He’s won all 13 national title since he joined Clapham in 2008, and has also won eight European titles. Despite that longevity, he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. If you’re reading this I don’t really need to explain what Justin is good at, but just in case you do here’s a hint: it’s everything. He’s developed into an excellent thrower and he’s still able to go over the top of almost anyone if he needs to. That he’s second here is something of an upset and probably a result of one other person having a brilliant season rather than any slip from Justin.

WINNER: Connor McHale, Clapham Ultimate

Connor joined Clapham in 2016 as a fairly raw athlete. He’s always been fast and able to jump, and he has always been able to throw a long way, but his throwing was still a work in progress as was his field awareness. In the last five years he’s worked on every aspect of his game, responding to missing out on the 2018 WUCC roster by making himself better and better until he’s now central to the success of the team. He’s now the main threat with the disc on Clapham’s D line, throwing a number of assists in the national final and scoring the final point both there and at Euros in Bruges to snatch the title back from CUSB. He’s still athletic, he still gets huge layout blocks and he still pulls better than maybe anyone else in the division, but the addition of his ability to control the offence after the turn means he is the Player of the Year this season.

tSG Awards ’21: Coach of the Year

This award is combining all three divisions for a pretty simple reason: coaching for elite teams in the UK is still in the very early stages of development so there aren’t many people that we could think to nominate. Every time I speak to European colleagues they are baffled by the dearth of coaches available for teams in the UK, especially at the Great Britain level, and think it holds us back. However, that is starting to change and people up and down the country are starting to dedicate themselves to developing players and making teams better. This is the only award where we’ll highlight the entire shortlist because all of these people deserve a shout out for the time they’ve put in. Hopefully in future years we can split this out to three different awards.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Sam Vile, Oxford Ultimate

As well as playing for Deep Space, Sam spent time coaching the Oxford Ultimate players every week during their National Cup and Nationals runs. Combining playing at such a high level with coaching another team is hugely impressive and Sam (along with the other coaches who help out at Oxford) deserves huge credit for doing so.

Mike Lewis, Devon

Devon branched out this season and accepted players from all over the country. Mike and his coaching team spent time early in the season instilling the kind of things that such a new group would need when it got to Nationals, and was rewarded with a semi-final place.

Paddy Ward, Bristol Open

Paddy coached Bristol Open through an excellent season, reaching the National Cup final and Nationals. He also does other work in Bristol, maintaining the club as a whole and playing a role alongside others in helping to ensure that anyone who wants to play in Bristol has somewhere to do that.

THE TOP THREE

Third place: Oliver Browne, SCRAM

Oli has coached at a number of levels, including currently coaching the St Andrews teams to excellent results in Scotland. His work this season with SCRAM was impressive, taking a young team and helping to develop them to the point where they finished sixth after running teams above them close. He worked with captains Lulu Boyd and Rhona Gordon to build SCRAM’s tactic and continued to offer a calm presence on the sideline. They’ve now qualified for WUCC in their second competitive season and will head to Cincinnati to continue that development.

Second place: Philippa Hackett, SYC

Phil has been involved in coaching SYC for a number of years, first as part of a group and this past season on her own. She played for SYC for a number of years so knows the team well, and was able to integrate a number of new players last season while also ensuring that the veterans of the team were able to maintain their high standards. A semi-final spot at Nationals, where they pushed eventual winners Bristol very hard, shows how effective that work was and the reward is another spot at WUCC.

WINNERS: Ruth Tayler and Ben Hall, Bristol Women

This coaching duo came together largely by chance but captured lightning in a bottle this season. Ruth, a Bristol player, was injured for the season and Ben worked more on one-to-one skills and development, leaving Ruth to cover the big picture approach. While Ben was the quiet, calm presence, Ruth was the motivator and the energy on the sideline, working with the captains to drive the team on and play to their fullest potential. With Ruth unable to go to Nationals, Ben stepped up into a more primary role and helped the team on their way to the title. While it came about by chance, it seems to have worked brilliantly and they are our coaching duo of the season.

The ShowGame Awards 2021: an overview

Over the next few days, we’ll be announcing the winners of the inaugural ShowGame Awards. These awards will try to reflect the best of what we’ve seen this year, as well as recognising the people who have worked hard to make the sport what it is.

This is obviously the first time we’ve done these awards, so the process is brand new. That means we might have missed people you think were obvious picks, or maybe we picked the wrong people or even the wrong order. That’s fine! We’re after discussion here after all, but rest assured that any omissions were not for the want of trying and that we don’t hate your team or anyone in it. We’ll see how this year goes and try to improve the process for next year whatever happens, so if there’s anything that you’d like to see changed or needs to be done differently, let us know!

As a reminder, here are the categories we’ll be awarding:

  • Player of the Year
  • Best Newcomer
  • Best Thrower
  • Best Cutter
  • Best Defender
  • Best Young Player
  • Best of the Rest

  • Coach of the Year
  • Play of the Year
  • Community Spirit Award

We’ll be doing separate awards for all three divisions in the first list with two POTYs for mixed. Otherwise, those awards will cover both male- and female-matching players in mixed. The final three awards will combine all three divisions into one category.

The final thing to note: if a player wins POTY, they are automatically ineligible for any other award. That’s why we’ll be doing that one first, since the detectives amongst you probably would have been able to work out who won POTYs after not seeing people mentioned in the slightest ahead of the announcement.

Here’s a timeline for when we’ll be announcing everything:

December 19: Community Spirit Award

December 20: Coach of the Year, Player of the Year

December 21: Best Young Player, Best Newcomer, Best of the Rest

December 22: Best Thrower, Best Cutter, Best Defender

The voting for the Play of the Year award will start on New Year’s Day!