I took the day off from work today because I have a bad cold I just can’t shake. Writing up my year in review for the math and ultimate blogs has been on my mind for a while and today turned into the right day to think through those reviews. I’m sorry if this one doesn’t read that well, but at least for this one time I have an excuse 🙂
2016 was really great year in ultimate for me. I got to watch tons of great games, watch players I know have tons of success on and off the field, and get introduced to some amazing players who I hardly knew anything about previously. Thinking back through this year has been a lot of fun.
Here are some of the highlights:
(1) The most read post (on both blogs)
Funny enough it was my very first post for the year. Just like today I was home for work while my wife and kids were in Omaha with my family. Also just like today there were tons of year-end men’s ultimate highlights going around on social media. This year is different, thankfully, because of Fulcrum Media’s equity through visibility project. Their post from today was about Jesse Shofner!
Last year I was annoyed though and threw together a bunch of great highlights. Ashley Young’s block in the 2013 college finals is one that I’ll never get tired of:
The whole blog post is here:
(2) Watching Western Washington vs. Pittsburgh
Getting to see this game was a minor miracle. Gwen Ambler retweeted the link for the game from this tweet:
I watched it at 3:00 am hanging out with my younger son who was up sick with a 103 degree fever.
It really was an extra special miracle because I’ve got a huge soft spot for Western Washington because their coach, Alyssa Weatherford, is amazing. I was also excited to watch Pittsburgh because I knew Carolyn Normile from the 2015 All-Star tour. She is absolutely incredible.
The game is fantastic, so don’t read the post if you don’t want spoilers.
Western Washington vs. Pittsburgh
It really is stunning to me that filming of ultimate is so prevalent now that you can find new game film tweeted out randomly at 3:00 am 🙂
(3) Team USA vs Team Canada
I was already super excited about Team USA:
10 Things I’m excited to see with the US Women’s National Team
Then came this tweet from a Seattle-area ultimate coach:
I’ve you’ve not seen this game stop reading right now and watch it.
(4) 1 billion blog posts about the game . . . .
There are so many things to like about this game that I can’t even begin to list them. One thing, though, was the way it was shot – a wide angle from high up in the back of the endzone. You could see the whole field for the whole game AND YOU HAD THE BEST PLAYERS IN THE WORLD PLAYING!!!!!!
Here are some of the posts:
Quick Reactions to the US / Canada Exhibition game
4 really nice possessions from Canada
4 really examples of fundamentals from the US
4 plays that didn’t quite work for the US that I still like
Some Excellent Examples from Cahada’s Kate Werry and the US’s Sarah Anciaux
Molly, Calise, Anna, and Rohre
Chastain and Desmond
Play like Opi and Surge using these 7 simple tricks
Learning from Alex Snyder
A few instructive examples from Team USA’s Jenny Fey
Team Canada’s Catherine Hui is absolutely amazing
It was so fun to learn about players I didn’t know at all like Canada’s Kate Werry and Team USA’s Sarah Anciaux. I was so proud to see players I’d seen put in years of work – like Anna Nazarov, Rohre Titcomb, Jenny Fey, and Calise Cardenas – representing the US, and, honestly, the game kept getting better and better every time I watch it. You’d have to look pretty hard to find a better game to showcase the sport to people who don’t know too much about ultimate.
(5) Japan vs Australia in the Dream Cup finals
This was another game I saw thanks to Gwen:
This game was my introduction to Michelle Phillips from Australia who has one of the most dominant games I’ve ever seen.
Australia’s Michelle Phillips and Moe Sameshima – I’m speechless
The lessons from the game go far beyond the great play of Michelle Phillips, though – it really is a great game to study:
The Wonderful Zone O play of Australia’s Jodie Palmer
Japan’s super efficient endzone O
Japan creating space deep and space for their handlers
I didn’t write that much about Worlds, I actually don’t remember why, but it really meant a lot to me to be able to see some of the games. To see Rohre, Anna, and Jenny Fey taking the field together to start the game was an “I can’t believe I’m finally seeing this” moment for me:
The block from Carolyn Matthews at the end of the Masters final was also very special to me:
Carolyn won the “True Veteran” award this year:
Announcing the 2016 True Veteran Award and the Michelle Ng Inspiration award
(7) The US Open
It was such a luck break to have the US Open be so close. Being able to spend a day watching Riot play was amazing, and it was also nice to be able to catch up with so many other players. Another great thing was seeing this Megan Cousins grab in person:
Ultiworld is having a “catch of the year” contest now and Cousin’s catch wasn’t captured on video. Oh well – in 30 years of watching ultimate that is one of the top 5 catches I’ve ever seen! I get to see it every day now, at least 🙂
(8) The 2016 All-Star Tour
There were lots of reasons to be excited about this year’s All-Star tour:
10 Reasons I”m excited about the 2016 All-Star Tour
I’m really proud of Qxhna for putting the tour together two years in a row. She received the Michelle Ng Inspiration award:
I’m proud of the ultimate community, too, for sponsoring such an incredibly important project. Just like getting to see the Team USA players shine on the world stage, it is amazing to see the All-Star players shine on the national stage. Take Claire Revere as just one example – she should be a household name in the ulitmate community!
I feel really lucky to have had the chance to be involved with this project for the last two years. When it was all over there were some great memories:
10 Memories from the All-Star Tour
(9) Learning from the All-Star games
It isn’t just great memories, though, the games provide example after example to learn from. The games are filmed extremely well. The commentating is amazing, and the play is incredible. You’ll learn a ton from watching them. Here’s one little teaser from the various blog posts:
Learning from the All-Stars vs. Riot game
Watch the athleticism and skill vs. Riot:
Learning from the All-Stars vs. Traffic game
Look at this O from the All-Stars against Traffic:
Learning from the All-Stars vs. Fury game
More beautiful O against Fury:
Learning from the All-Stars vs. Molly Brown game
A great highlight throw from Sarah Edwards against Molly Brown to tie the game at 14-14
Learning from the All-Stars vs. Ozone game
This cut and throw from Ozone’s Anraya Palmer is one of the best plays I saw all year:
Learning from the All-Stars vs. Scandal game
Watch this transition O from the All-Stars against Scandal after a terrific block by Alex Ode:
Jenny Fey goes bananas vs. the All-Stars
Watch Jenny Fey show how to beat a zone O by finding a dangerous spot and staying there:
(10) The new FB study group
I was inspired by the college game film study group that Gwen started last year and decided to try out a Facebook Study group for the Riot / Fury semifinals game.
The game was full of great lessons and great plays. Here are three:
(i) An amazing layout block from Anna Nazarov in slo-mo
(ii) A nasty grab by Charlie Eide:
(ii) An insane grab by Shira Stern. This catch is in the Ultiworld catch of the year contest, so go vote for it!
The group has nearly 700 members and we had a great discussion about the game. So great, actually, that we are moving on to study the Ozone vs. All-Stars game starting in January. Claire Revere from the All-Stars is going to lead the discussion on the first point!
The group is here – feel free to join:
All in all a really nice year – makes me happy thinking about it. Can’t wait to see what 2017 brings 🙂