I knew that today was going to be a good day when the first person I ran into at the field site was former All-Star Dori Franklin who now plays for Nemesis. As play got started, here are 5 things that really made me smile today.
(1) The excellent play of Riot’s Lucy Williams
Williams had an amazing day as one of the main cogs in Riot’s O. I remember first getting to know her when she played for Seattle Mixtape several years ago, but today was the first time I saw her in person in the women’s division. She was sensational. Riot recognized her earlier in the season for work at the Pro Flight Finale:
Seeing Williams having all kinds of success today was a big bright spot in my day and even hours later as I’m writing up this post, thinking about her play today brings a big smile to my face.
(2) Seeing Anouchka Beaudry play
I wrote about Beaudry after watching the finals of Canadian nationals:
and Upwind Ultimate wrote about her here:
It was a thrill to see her play in person. Her throws are absolutely stunning. From the beautiful hucks to soft, shorter touch throws she makes throwing look effortless. I’m almost at a loss for who to compare her to – she’s got the silky smooth touch of Claire Chastain, the range of Rohre Titcomb, and the variety of throws that Jenny Fey has. The combination is truly incredible to see. I cannot wait to follow her career in club and international ultimate.
I also loved the matchup she had with Riot’s Kirstin Gruver today. They both made each other work really hard. It is also a fun coincidence that they both wear #13.
(3) Showdown’s Julia Schmaltz
If you followed the college championships in the US you probably know about Schmaltz’s amazing play already. If not, try this on for size . . .
Today was the first time that I’d see Schmaltz play in person and she blew me away. I loved her throws, I loved how she saw the field, I loved how she moved to create space, and, obviously, her athleticism is completely out of this world.
And . . . let me just say that the idea of Schmaltz and Jaclyn Verzuh being on the field together representing the US at the U24 world championships next year is mind boggling.
(4) The speed at which Carolyn Finney plays the game is beyond description
I used this video of Finney’s play at regionals against Nightlock in a prior blog post and I think it highlights my point:
Finney’s speed and quickness is clear enough on film, but seeing her play in person gave me a much better understanding of the problems that she creates for the other team. Watching her is like watching the quickest person you’ve ever seen cutting, faking, and defending in fast forward. The most impressive thing to me was her decision making which was flawless.
When college players move up to club you’ll often hear them talk about the speed of the game. I don’t know what they say when they have to deal with Finney!
(5) I **finally** saw Manuela Cardenas play in person
I don’t even know what highlight video to share – but here a short and famous (and old!) one.
I feel extraordinarily fortunate to have had the opportunity to see her play today – it is a moment that I’ll remember forever. Players like her can change the course of the sport. It is going to be an absolute privilege to be able to follow her career.
(6) A few other bonuses . . . .
It made me extremely happy to be able to meet players that I’ve come to respect both this year and over the last few years. Getting to meet Riot’s Maddie Gilbert and Molly Brown’s player / coach Carolyn Matthews were very special moments for me today.
The chance encounters with the old All-Star players was another source of happiness. I love watching the success that all of them are having in club ultimate and can’t wait to see Hannah Leathers, Megan Cousins, and Margot Stert back on the field at full strength next year.
Finally, some brief chats with Anna Nazarov, Hannah Krielkamp, Drew Johnson, and Robyn Wiseman makes me remember how lucky I’ve been to meet so many amazing players over the years – and how many people around ultimate are so easy to cheer for!
What a day 🙂