Who are the best players in the Great Lakes region? This is an open thread to discuss All-Region nominations, All-Freshman nominations, coaching awards, and more. Stay positive and keep it civil.
Arthur Small, of Butler Big Dawg, for COTY. Has done an immense amount of work to put the program in consistent contention, working with an undersized and less athletic roster. They now have a literal army of kids who play between their A and B team. Obviously didn’t take the game to go in either of the series this year, but Arthur’s built a legit program that will be lasting.
Ben Close from Grace College is one of singular most valuable players I have ever seen and is incredibly deserving of an All-Region spot. This was the first year Grace competed as a sanctioned program, and Close was inarguably the biggest reason for their advancement to Nationals after defeating a more experienced, more athletic, bigger-rostered, well-coached Butler team in a very close Regional championship game.
Between two sanctioned tournaments, and then Conferences and Regionals, Close put up 92 assists and 9 scores on the offensive side of the disc while keeping the offense flowing and getting every single one of his teammates involved game in and game out. On defense, his ability to discourage teams from trying any sort of deep throw as deep-deep (NOTHING got through on that man) was a major reason that Grace’s zone performed so well against so many more experienced teams.
As one of only two players on the team that had played a full season of ultimate pre-Covid, Close used his experience all year long to keep his teammates constantly improving. He elevated the play of everyone around him. Additionally, his pulls constantly put his team in great position defensively, and was a huge part of why the team racked up 8 Callahans this season, all in sanctioned tournaments or Conferences.
For COTY, Grace coach Drew Schramm took a team with only two players who had played a full season of competitive ultimate before, and 6 women in vital team roles (through tournaments that rarely had even one woman on the roster) to Nationals against TOUGH, experienced programs. His ability to establish team roles that gets the best out of his players is second to none, and what he was able to do with that team in such a short amount of team 100% deserves recognition.
His in-game coaching shouldn’t be slept on either - Grace played tight games all spring, and Grace had historically not done well in tight games in previous years against any level of competition, much less experienced sanctioned programs. He made sure that team was able to close out games, and his lineup decisions and play calls were a major part of that.
Totally agreed on the Ben Close and Drew Schramm cases. TJ Faur from grace also deserves an all region nod for getting 84 scores in 4 sanctioned tournaments, including 7 against #1 seed wheaton and 5 in the championship game against Butler. Not to mention 17 assists. Plus he caught the game-winner to advance to nationals.
The dude was a menace who couldn’t be guarded by any team in any tournament, no matter what players they threw at him. Plus he got two callahans in sanctioned tourneys this year.
Carlos Avila deserves all-freshman because he put up 17 scores with a 90+ passing percentage.
Ty Swartzentruber also deserves all-region. Most versatile dude in any tournament all year. Put up 32 scores, 29 assists, and was the best mid-mid on any defense anywhere. When he was in, you could not pass anywhere in the middle of the field against them. Also scored one break-point callahan to take it to half and a game-winning callahan to close a TIGHT game that got the team to regionals.
Joel Close also should be all-region. 61 assists, 16 scores, 77 d’s this year along with two callahans. Most disruptive wing defender on the field at all times, and was great at deep-deep when called on. Also threw a DIME of a pass to win Regionals. Plus he has the best hair in the entire region. Is there a prettiest player award??
Not sure how many all-region one team can get, but those 4 on Grace I think definitely earned it. A little biased as I saw a lot of their games this year, but I saw them play against a lot of the top teams in the GL region repeatedly all year long (3-1 against Valparaiso, 1-1 against Butler, 2-1 against Wheaton) and those 4 were consistently the best four players on the field. Grace doesn’t advance without each and every one of them.
I think that Grace’s coach Drew Schramm deserves COTY. He didn’t inherit the wealth of athletic ability that Butler had and was still able to take them all the way. His team had by far the best take on the 3-3-1 arrowhead in our region and was constantly making adjustments throughout the game and in between tournaments. His work with the wings of their zone was incredible. He also exhibited spirit of the game quite well.
(the stats for Wheaton only have four games recorded. The third place game was not recorded because it was much more informal than our true competitive play throughout the rest of the tournament)
From Wheaton Bryan Sandahl definitely earned all-freshman. This was his first season playing handler and he was an integral piece of Wheaton’s O-line. At regionals he had 95% passing and was incredibly composed. He also had the fourth most goals on our team at regionals.
Collin Kemp also deserves a look at all-region. His regionals performance on the O-line was incredible. He had 9 goals (team leading), 4 assists, and 6 d’s at regionals. He kept the O-line moving and was dominant on both sides of the disc. He also maintained above 90% passing for the weekend.
I think Jacob Koons and Kody Beachey from Grace deserve some consideration for All-Freshman team. For Jacob, he hung his hat on the defensive end. He lead the arrow head of the 3-3-1 zone when Brandon Wray went down in both regionals and conference tournaments. His length allowed him to impact where this disc was going without having to get the D, and made it easier for others to get one. His catching and passing percentage were both identical throughout the season, at 89%, making him a reliable target whenever he got open, and he caught 111 of 124 passes all year. He was one of the most passionate people on the sidelines and in the game out of anyone at regionals. Coming back into the championship game against Butler after hurting his ankle not even a full point before shows real grit and toughness.
As for Kody, he proved he can play with anyone during regionals. Although he was not there for conferences, he stepped up his game. His size and sense of where the disc was going once it was thrown allowed him to clamp down the wing in Grace’s 3-3-1 zone. He may not have played in the championship game against Butler, but he help them get there. He had 2 Ds against Wheaton that turned the tide of the game. His value and toughness cannot be stated on the stat sheet. He had the fire and will to win at regionals that many other teams wish they had.
For all-freshman team: Bryan Sandahl. Was arguably the most consistent handler on Wheaton’s o-line, with 80 touches and only 4 throwaways. He also added 4 goals, 2 assists, and continually made smart plays that were invaluable to the team’s flow, especially coming from a first-year player.
Also Donnie Kahaian for all-freshman, who didn’t get as much playing time on a deeper Wheaton d-line, but had 0.25 D’s/points played, by far leading the team. Kahaian consistently shut down his matchup during sectionals and regionals.
Grace’s coach deserves COY by far. The team improved so much between Meltdown and regionals, and he deserves all the credit for that.
Butler’s Head Coach here & I’ll do my best with names & I think I’m a relatively objective person when it comes to this stuff having been involved in the sport for almost a decade now.
COTY - Drew Schramm (Grace) he did a fabulous job developing an impressive defensive identity for a thin roster & really highlighting his top playmakers. It wasn’t as evident on offense, but defensively, the team was very sound & I think that’s a testament to his game planning & role development.
ALL-REGION (I can only highlight 6 players that really stood out to me)
Ben Close (Grace) - Assuming from the other comments, I’d guess he’s the kid with the cannon on both sides who was the engine to their offense & an incredibly effective monster in their zone. His throwing talent is evident, but his decision making was what stood out to me, he was patient against zone & understood the matchups & situations to take shots on. I think he’s the player of the year in the region.
TJ Faur (Grace) - Very fast & deceptively bouncy cutter. Killed us in the deep space to the point where we pouched our defenders deep to negate the Close->Faur Huck game. While he wasn’t an elite thrower, he rarely made mistakes with the disc in his hand & was effective with continuation throws.
Matt Golz (Wheaton) - Primary handler that felt comfortable running the offense & taking tough defensive matchups. He wasn’t a flashy thrower like Close from Grace, but he was incredibly effective playing his game
Tim Lumsdaine (Wheaton) - In charge of leading the DLine & taking the toughest handler matchup, he’s got a full bag of tricky throws & breaks that open up the field for his team
Alan Field (Butler) - Our tall, blonde handler. He was the steadying presence of our team & was +17 on the weekend while only playing about half the team’s points. He’s not only a strong center handler, but he’s also (for my money) the toughest mark in the region.
Jonathan Courts (Butler) - Our primary cutter. Truly unguardable in an isolation set. Unfortunately he played his worst game of the season in the G2G with 3 turns & a drop, but leading up to that game he was only responsible for 2 turns total during the postseason, while scoring 27 goals & throwing 16 assists.
All-Freshmen Team (I only know Butler because I don’t know which other guys are freshmen)
Carter VanStone (Butler) - A trusted OLine cutter who singlehandedly won us the Wheaton game with effective offense & as our best defender on a turn. He recorded 7 blocks alone in the 2nd half of the Wheaton game that we won on UP
Sam Ingham (Butler) - Another OLine starter (the really tall blonde kid) who played every OLine point for us & finished the weekend +13, including 5 point blocks across 4 games.
I was a captain of Butler this year, and I wanted to give some shoutouts to guys we played against. I’m pretty much basing this off of this past weekend’s regionals tournament.
I didn’t remember their names, but based off comments I think it’s Ben Close and TJ Faur from Grace. Ben worked really hard to make himself available in the reset space, and had incredible deep throws that were very difficult to defend. TJ was fast and really good at reading those throws.
The guys that stuck out to me the most from Wheaton were Matt Golz and Christian Rothrock. Matt was a very effective handler who could get breaks off with ease. Solid defender as well. Christian made a lot of plays in the cutting space, both on offense and defense.
Apologies for not remembering the name (maybe someone can help me with this), but North Park’s captain with the ponytail is really good. It always took effort to get open while guarded by him, and he basically ran their offense.
A couple of my teammates I want to shoutout are Erik Stewart and Jonathan Courts. Erik is a good defender, and has one of the widest range of throws I’ve seen. Also my guy is the best in the nation at defending his call (lol). Jon is a great cutter who is just about unguardable in open space. Reliable hands, great hops, and quick and safe decision making are all apparent in his game.
I’ll second the Erik Stewart shoutout. He WAS hall-of-fame level at defending his calls, but he was also a fun guy to interact with and a great player. Definitely one of the best at working against Grace’s zone.
Grace coach here. Wanted to chime in with some thoughts. To be honest though I don’t really remember any names from any teams, I can hardly remember the names of the players on my team.
The captain on Wheaton with blonde hair was solid. Great leader for that team and a great guy to talk with on the sideline as well.
The captain for Valparaiso, I think he was 00. Again, great leader on the field and a great guy off the field. He was the epitome of spirit.
What many people may not realize is that these guys are taking several duties that captains from teams with coaches don’t have to do. They are playing and coaching all at once. This can be extremely difficult and will affect both of those responsibilities. They both were able to play at a high level while trying to take care of other responsibilities. Kudos to them for that.
Shout out also to Gentry from Butler. He seemed to be able to find space really well on offense and find the gaps.
From Grace, Ben has gotten a lot of credit, all of which he fully deserves. For all region I would like to highlight Brandon Wray. Although he went down in the first game on Sunday of regionals with a hamstring injury, he was a great defender both in our zone and when we switched man to man. On offense he was a threat both deep and under often acting as a release valve when we desperately needed one. I would also like to shout out Christian Harris for freshman of the year. He came up big on offense and defense in the game to go and all weekend.
Normally I would think that an all-region team would include no more than one or two players from a team, but I think in this region Butler, Wheaton, and Grace stood out above everyone else pretty clearly, mainly due to their top-end players. They were the three teams outside of the team I follow most closely that I saw a lot of, and those guys (if I’m remembering everything correctly and having my brain properly stoked by the above comments) on those teams that I’m listing really were a cut above. Great team and individual ultimate to watch from a lifer, good job guys. Valpo and North Park had some solid players, but they got beat down by the other 3 teams so consistently and so badly that I felt like the top players were always on those other teams. No disrespect to them, though - good upcoming programs. For those three tough teams, any would have been worthy of Nationals contention, Grace just played the best when it mattered. They’ll all be fighting tightly for the next few years.
Also, I won’t be listing any to the nominees below, but the girls on Grace’s roster deserve a shoutout. I do not know any of their names, but they can flat out play. Would love to see them get a girls team together in the future. Even on defense, they weren’t just hidden among their top athletes - excellent positioning, and some good athletes/throwers/sticky hands. Very impressed with their mettle in a men’s division.
All-Region team nominees:
- Collin Kemp (Wheaton) (Great facilitator, kept the offense flowing even against good defenses. Very efficient)
- Matt Golz (Wheaton) (Can run the offense through him, good fundamentals. Good team player, no ego evident in his play)
- Tim Lumsdaine (Wheaton) (Good thrower, but as close to an engine of that defense as you can have)
- Ben Close (Grace) (elite at everything, made other teams just flat out stop going deep, makes everyone around him better)
- TJ Faur (Grace) (There was no answer for him defensively, and his defense was great in Grace’s arrow)
- Joel Close (Grace) (Best wing defender in the tournament, can throw with the best of them)
- Ty Swartzentruber (Grace) (Most versatile handler/cutter I saw in the tournament. Better at baiting other teams into turnovers than anyone I’ve seen recently. Also elevates play in crunchtime)
- Erik Stewart (Butler) (Could break down even toughest defenses with crafty throws, even in wind)
- Jon Courts (Butler) (Perfect safety net, tough to slow down)
- Alan Field (Butler) (The leader of the team, team played much worse when he was out.)
- Carter Vanstone (Butler) (Big impact on both sides of the disc)
Coach of the Year: Drew Schramm (Grace)
Player of the Year: Ben Close (Grace)
- Carlos Avila (Grace) (Hands like glue, great positioning)
- Jacob Koons (Grace) (good offensive cog, big impact defender, tough enough to grit out an injury)
- Bryan Sandahl (Wheaton) (Handles like a vet)
- Donnie Kahaian (Wheaton) (this kid needs to play more)
- Carter Vanstone (Butler) (best of this group, I believe)
- Sam Ingham (Butler) (Just constant at everything. Level of player never dipped, very consistent)
- There was a bearded kid on Grace that I believe I heard the sideline saying was a Freshman, but I do not recall his name - if anyone knows who I’m speaking of, he was very quick, a good cutter with good upfield vision, and I believe he got some handler time in too. Room to improve for consistency, but a lot of potential. Caught two straight deep throws to take the Grace/Butler game to softcap.
It was a pleasure watching these teams this spring - Grace, good luck at nationals! Other teams, keep up the good work!