Who are the best players in the Southeast region? This is an open thread to discuss All-Region nominations, All-Freshman nominations, coaching awards, and more. Stay positive and keep it civil.
Whoohoo! Time to get this out here for Georgia Tech Wreck.
Wreck would undoubtedly not be where we are today without Maddy Frey and her coaching for the past four years. Her experience, dedication, and quick thinking for in game adjustments are just the beginning. What separates Maddy from any other coach I’ve had the pleasure of working with is the strength of her spirit. Over the past four years we’ve received several comments on our spirit as a team on and off the field. That doesn’t happen by chance. That starts from the leadership. Maddy’s approach to coaching has encouraged not only spirited play, but mental fortitude, which is an essential quality for any athlete (and to be honest, any human being). She encourages players to trust themselves, to shake off their mistakes, to live in the current moment, and to focus on the process instead of the outcome. She encourages us to never be focused on the results - the winning or the losing - but that’s not to say Maddy hasn’t produced incredible results in these past four years. A year before she came, Wreck was savage the Sunday of Regionals. The next year, 2013, Maddy’s first year coaching, we had 8 people and finished 7th of 8. 2014, we brought 17 people to Regionals and tied for 7th out of 10. 2015, last year, we made the championship bracket and tied for 5th out of 12. This year, Wreck is projected to be seeded 3rd out of 12 teams, with a W against the 2nd seeded team. And even these results don’t show everything. To have made this sort of progress, especially with a school like Georgia Tech (where the ratio of guys to girls at tech makes our population of females scarily close that of a DIII school), takes way more than coaching ability. It takes enthusiasm, passion, spunk, and a nurturing ear. Maddy means so much to Georgia Tech as a coach, not just because of all the ultimate knowledge she has passed on, but because she is also one of the most caring friends you will find. She has helped us all grow just as much off the field as we have on the field. So for all those reasons and so many more, I strongly believe Maddy Frey should receive this year’s Coach of the Year award for the Southeast Women’s division.
WHEW. I know that was long, but I have a few more people to shout out so stick with me.
Ashley Brown is one of the, if not the best women’s handler in the Southeast region. It’s as if she has a remote controller for every disc. She can break, weave through a zone, or nail a target 60 yards away. Her pulls have gotten us D’s in other teams’ endzones. Her resets are on point and her uplines are on fire. All that is great and all, but I’d say the most impressive thing about her is her consistency. She’s an incredibly reliable heartbeat (wouldn’t want an unreliable heartbeat amirite) to Wreck’s offense and is also a key part of our zone defense as deep deep.
Taylor Hartman is one of the most formidable downfield forces in the Southeast. She has made some of the most athletic plays I’ve ever seen in my life. She is a deep threat with her impossibly far/high/ridiculous layout catches, an under threat with her powerful hucks, and is neigh unstoppable with her footwork and speed. Another essential piece of Wreck not just because of her play, but because of her leadership. An incredibly smart player, she is level headed and mentally makes the decision to step up when no one else does.
Both Taylor and Ashley have done SO SO much for Wreck behind the scenes: recruitment, logistics, practice planning, strategy, long term vision. This team would not be where it’s at without them.
Finally, for all freshman:
Allison Wong is already a key part of Wreck’s offense as a freshman. As an impressive player and a U20 tryouttee she brings a lot of depth with her consistent breaks, field awareness, and awesome cutting whether it’s downfield or as a handler.
Brita McAuliffe is the sweetest girl that is straight fire I’ve ever seen. She shreds zones with her field awareness, lengthens the field with her immediate deep looks and is an unstoppable force in the air with hands that might as well have glue on them (they don’t i checked).
Thanks for hearing me out and can’t wait to see the rest of this discussion!
Not enough songs can be sung about Maddy Frey. Like Julia mentioned above, she is an amazing woman and has taken Georgia Tech Wreck from 8 people at regionals to a 25+ person roster with a competitive positioning at Regionals this year. Please read Julia’s more in-depth comment above for more background. I would just like to add one more comment about Maddy and that is how much a role model she is both on and off the field. While other coaches get mad and yell at their players or claim their team “should” be beating another team, those words have never come out of Maddy’s mouth. I am confident in claiming that GT Wreck has the highest level of mental game out of any team in the Southeast at the level of competition we strive for. That is all Maddy’s doing. She is supportive, smart, strategic, competitive, and incredibly spirited. She stays out of on-field conversations unless explicitly asked for a rules clarification and she would never in a million years be caught yelling at one of her own players or bad-mouthing another team. Ever. She has so much respect for everyone on the field and always reminds us that every game is a toss up, we aren’t guaranteed a win just because of previous playing history and personnel. I think that is something special and unique to Maddy.
Julia Ting should be put on all-region first team. It’s hard to find a handler that is as fast, quick, and flexible as Julia is. If you have ever attempted to guard her, you can probably attest to her incredible ability to get open on the dump or immediately go downfield for a deep cut from the handler position. Additionally, she always remains humble and is the nicest person to play against because of her respect for any call that is made and willingness to talk anything through and reach mutual understanding. As a handler her throws are unstoppable, her hucks always find their target, and her athletic ability has saved many plays. Additionally, I think it is fairly rare to have a handler that also continuously matches up on the opposing team’s best cutter on defense, but Julia does that consistently and succeeds. She combines the speed and endurance of a cutter with the throwing skill and field vision of a handler.
Ashley Brown is one of the most consistent handlers at the college level. She is extremely skilled with the disc. I also feel that she is overlooked far too often. She has a consistent backhand around break that is infuriating to guard against, her pulls are so the best i’ve seen this entire college season, and her deep-deep game in zone is irreplaceable. She makes people open with her throwing ability. Truly one of the best handlers in the southeast.
Emory coach here, putting out some names for people to pay attention to from Emory. I’ll post about others in the region soon.
Rachel “Arty” Thurston: If you don’t know the name, you know the 70 yard forehand huck. And if you don’t know that, you know the 50 yard hammer. Arty has transitioned from upfield to backfield and deep lanes have never been the same. But she really has grown into such a commanding presence on the field, on both sides of the disc, and is an underrated individual defender and I believe has one of the best marks in the region.
Talia Gilbert: A former FOTY, Talia has also had to make the senior transition to handling. Now she’s smoking people upline and stepping around for sneaky backhand break throws. She gets open against strong defenders and finishes plays, and has the field sense to break up offenses with key blocks.
Sarah “Bear” Burzynski: Bear is a bit of an unsung hero. She isn’t always throwing the score or catching the goal, but she’s usually somehow involved in setting it up. Whether it is handling, defending the dump, shutting down a cutter, playing a central zone position, or cutting, Bear plays the game right and with great energy. She’s quickly becoming one of the players to know from the SAPP, and soon beyond that.
This year’s Emory team was incredibly young, with just 3 seniors and 3 juniors (one of which is a rookie) out of 24. Our rookies were asked to make huge contributions, especially these four players.
Leah Gilbert-Odem: I’ll say it right up front - Leah has had the most impactful rookie season of any player I’ve ever coached. Despite no prior ultimate experience, she has consistently been one of the best players on the game in and game out. She has excellent speed, field sense, and her growth has been rapid. She’s made some massive plays on both sides of the disc as a receiver, and while she doesn’t have game changing throws, she completes her throws at a high clip. Over 1/4 of the team’s goals this season have been in the hands of Leah.
Rachel Goldstein: It is fair to say Rachel is a bit unassuming, and she’s generally pretty quiet. Her play, however, is far from it. Rachel racked up goals for us all season and has a real nose for the end zone, shining when using her explosiveness to attack the front cone. She’s an athletic mark and has strong defensive footwork. Third on our team in goals this season
Anna Glass: A Paideia product, we were really lucky to be able to add Anna to our corps of handlers after losing so many last year. And while she has the skill to break the mark or throw hucks, it is Anna’s heart that should praised. She’s gritty and aggressive and comes up with unexpected plays time and time again; some crazy reset saving two handed layout or upline block. She’s a gamer.
Camille Santiago: Another rookie we were fortunate to get with high school experience, Camille comes from HB Woodlawn and is an excellent athlete with good instincts. She gobbles up a lot of yardage for us, and when she’s feeling it, has a beautiful forehand huck she’ll let go. A great cutter and second on our team in goals.
Yeah, our top 3 goal scorers were rookies. Watch out, Southeast
Maybe not my call, just my opinion… as a mom observing. The Rookie from UCF… #7 Sarah Gifford has grown exponentially in just one season. She is athletic, cheerful, thoughtful, and smart. The very first game she was so unsure of herself - not looking comfortable on the field at all, but is now a seasoned player. By just watching her, it is undetectable that she even is a rookie! For “All Region”, I of course am biased, but I think all the UCF starters should be considered… Alexa, Chloe, Gentry, Mia, Sarah, Stephanie, Janina, and Shayna. They each have stamina, heart, know how to dig deep, and work together. And of course, Tilley is the awesome coach that has developed and pushed them all. He even drives to Austin, TX from Orlando, so the whole team can go. SOTG for UCF in my opinion is Nicole. Good Luck to all. There are a lot of fun players to watch in the SE.
After much overthinking and revising, I’m gonna throw this up…
Caroline Marsh (UGA) - She’s been awesome this season, nothing out of the norm
Kristin Lloyd (FSU) - The total package, there just isn’t a function of her game where she is weak
Alexa Wood (UCF) - Every team would like to have a player like her, she’s tirelessly speedy and aggessive, and takes instruction
Taylor Hartman (GT) - Extremely dynamic playmaker who understands her strengths and the field really well
Janina Freystaetter (UCF) - What a beast. If you had to have someone in the Southeast when the game was on the line, is there someone else you’d pick?
Shayna Brock (UCF) - Exceptional around the disc, capable doing work with her legs or her throws.
Skylar Taggart (FSU) - The purest handler in the region
Steph Williams (UCF) - You already know the deal; bombs away
Kristine Fedorenko (Auburn) - She’s a real headache to deal with because of her range as a thrower
Charlotte Doran (Vandy) - Honestly, this is the player I want to stump for the hardest (who isn’t on Emory). I was pretty blown away by her defensive tenacity and explosiveness. She might not be well known enough to get the votes, but I implore you to consider her, great player.
Lisa Fitton (FSU) - Unsung hero for FSU. Dangerous upfield and as a handler, very hard worker, very dependable.
Tori Taylor (UF) - The Florida girls do such a good job of distributing the disc that it is hard to pick someone, but then Two Shots will do something completely bonkers and I’ll be on the sideline thinking out loud "Wow, that was incredible, I wish she wasn’t doing that against my team."
Julia Ting (GT)
Rachel Thurston (Emory) - Already talked about her
People I think you NEED to consider at some point, but I ultimately couldn’t find space for: Ashley Brown, Samantha Daugherty, Michelle Yang, Mia Griner, Mandy Smith, MaryPat Henry, Jin-Mi Matsunaga, Lily Moline. There are some others who I definitely think should be talked about but this is already a healthy list. I think it is so close on the second team that you really could swap all the people I listed with this second group and still have a fair list.
I really think Ashley Brown and Michelle Yang have both been awesome, so shout out to them even if I didn’t put them on my list, just so hard this year.
I’ve shouted out the Emory girls, who I think really were huge parts of our offense this year. It is really hard to know this year, having seen less of the teams in the Gulf Coast and Florida than usual.
Gabrielle Payne (FSU) is a definite, she’s very athletic and good on D and in the air.
Allison Wong (GT) is another good one, they had to convince me she was a rookie.
Sally Cummings (UGA) is an easy inclusion, she’s big and strong and going to be one of the players to watch in the region over the next few years.
There’s a girl on Tennessee, I think her name is Abbey Hill, who is crazy fast and was a key cutter for them.
I’m sure the likes of Florida, UCF, Vanderbilt, and others have some rookies worth shouting out.
Coach Of the Year
I have to stump for Maddy Frey, who has built Georgia Tech into one of the best teams in the region and a team that, while talented, is very hardworking and driven. I am often jealous of the job she has done at my rival school in creating an on field culture where playing hard and working cohesively is paramount. She intelligently uses players’ skillsets to benefit the team. Really deserving, especially this year in which Wreck has been so successful.
My thoughts just looking at the Florida Conference
These girls should be locks for all region
Kristin Lloyd (FSU)
Skylar Taggart (FSU)
Janina Freystaetter (UCF)
Shayna Brock (UCF)
Eli Williams (UCF)
Tori “2 Shots” Taylor (UF)
Jamie Estes (UF)
Other UF FUEL Girls that deserve consideration
Kelsea LeBeau- A very consistent handler with fast movement, great upline speed, and strong defense
Lily “LMo” Moline- Big pulls, big hucks, runs the FUEL d-line
Danielle Cordes- Very firey, super athletic, and tall. Will usually get the deep D then streak deep and be on the receiving end of a LMo huck.
Courtney Testa- Fast and makes some big layout d’s and grabs.
Georgia Tech also had quite a few athletic girls who made great plays and deserve recognition, but I failed to note who they were.
-Craig Manahan (UF Assistant Coach)