Announcing the 2016 True Veteran Award and Michelle Ng Inspiration awards

Last year I decided two new awards for the women’s division. Each of the awards comes with a $1,000 grant for the recipient to use as she pleases.

The idea behind the Inspiration Award is to recognize someone who has worked hard to make the sport better. I named it after Michelle Ng to honor the almost unbelievable amount of work that she has done for ultimate.

The True Veteran award is a little different. It is also meant to recognize a veteran player for the work that she’s done for the sport, but also someone who’s work might not be as well known or as well recognized by the rest of the community.

This year the winner of the Michelle Ng Inspiration award is Qxhna Titcomb for her work developing the All-Star ultimate tour. The winner of the True Veteran award is Carolyn Matthews for her work playing and coaching with Colorado Kali, Molly Brown, and Team USA.

The Michell Ng Inspiration Award

I’ve been incredibly lucky to watch Qxhna play since she was at Tufts. Her play on the field is stellar – I almost woke up all of Boston cheering when she made this catch, for example:

But it was a call from Qxhna in January about the All-Star tour that had impressed me even more. About 6 months later the 2015 tour kicked off in Seattle:

There’s been so much written about Qxhna and the All-Star tour that I’m not sure how much more I can add. Ideas like this inspire so many people and promote the sport in such a positive way.

The True Veteran Award

One of my goals for this award is to give it to players that I don’t know personally. Last year Ultiworld wrote a fantastic article about Rachel Habbert:

Rachel Habbert wins the 2015 True Veteran Award

One difficulty with not knowing the players well is that it is harder for me to write a comprehensive article, so I reached out to some leaders in the women’s ultimate community for comments. Here’s what they had to say about Carolyn:

Anna Nazarov – “They say the best players make those around them better as well. C was my match up in college. BLU and Kali had SO many epic battles during the time we overlapped and since their offense ran through her, she was in the middle of every battle. I remember as a little sophomore going back to the drawing board and working endlessly on marking because C broke me so many times at Regionals. Her dump defense throughout the years forced me to consider tons of new angles in order to get open. Defending her quickness was the reason I did extra agility workouts. Without ever playing on the same team, she helped to make me into the player that I am today. For that, I will forever be thankful.”

Gwen Ambler – “After so many years of being on opposing teams, it was so great to be able to play with C on the US Women’s Masters at Worlds this summer. Her spectacular block on game point in the finals of Worlds is the easiest play to highlight, but I was equally impressed with how seamlessly she fit in with new teammates. Whether it was working together with her fellow handler defenders in our junk defense or making the perfectly timed wisecrack to get the team smiling, she was always looking out for the team as a whole. One of the team’s themes this year was being masters of everything, so it is so fitting for C to win this veterans awards.”

Claire Chastain – “I was fortunate enough for C to have been my coach, teammate and co-captain, and in each role she was always able to find the appropriate words or actions that pushed the team to be the best version of itself. She led by example on the field and off, whether it was getting a layout D at crunch time or meeting up to listen and provide feedback for players. Certainly someone who has had a great deal of positive influence on anyone she’s played alongside.”

Megan Cousins – “I have had the honor of being coached and captained by C over the past few years. We were rookies on Molly Brown together in 2012 (it was quickly clear who was actually the rookie) and she assistant coached my U23 teams in both 2013 and 2015.

C brings a remarkable, unique energy to any team she’s a part of. He humor keeps situations light, her fun energy and willingness to subtly pull teammates out of their shells is invaluable. But most importantly, she understands when and how to flip the switch. She is incredibly well-spoken. She speaks to her teams and addresses matters with such eloquence and level-headedness. She is trustworthy, a rock, and becomes the backbone to any team she puts her heart into.

Apart from this, we’ve all seen her uncanny ability to use that 5’2″ frame to the maximum. She plays defense like she’s 5’10”. She never stops hustling. And on offense she has that ability to put the disc wherever she wants. She’s a force on the field, a true leader, and a joy to be around.
C is so well deserving of this award.”

I’m a huge fan of what Carolyn has done on the field, leading Molly Brown, and coaching, so I thrilled to name her as the True Veteran award winner this year. I hope that others can add to the comments from Anna, Gwen, Claire, and Megan either in the comments or other places on line.

Although you won’t be able to see Carolyn on the field at Colorado Cup this weekend, I hope she’ll be out there and you can give her a high 5. But since you won’t be able to see her play, here’s a quick clip of her block on the final point of the game that led to Team USA winning the gold medal in the women’s masters division in June:

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