Best of Club Ultimate 2015: Women’s Division

by | October 16, 2015, 9:58am 0

“Ultimate publications, pundits and governing bodies give out awards left and right, but why doesn’t anyone ever give the players a voice?”

That was the idea we had in mind when developing the idea for the Best of Club Ultimate awards. Immediately after nationals, we sent out surveys to every player on a Club Championships team in the Men’s and Women’s divisions to vote on individual awards for their peers — think of it like high school yearbook awards, but for ultimate.

Out of the 392 Women’s players on a Club Championships roster this year, we had a total of 94 survey responses, representing all 16 teams. To avoid bias, players were instructed to vote according to their own personal experience and opinion, regardless of what ultimate media, fans, or pundits said. In addition, only votes for opponents were allowed; all votes for teammates were thrown out of the results.

With just 16 teams at nationals and 27-player roster limits, the elite club ultimate community has always been a tight-knit group. But with mandatory Triple Crown Tour events, U-23 tryouts, and the rise of social and ultimate media, players on teams across the country are closer than ever, and it was clear to see that many players had solid knowledge of the entire division. Of course, eliminating bias is nearly impossible. Any survey like this tends towards a popularity contest: journeymen players or players with friends on a number of different teams got more votes. That’s why we’ll open it up to you in the comments. Who do you think got overlooked?

Note: italic phrases in quotes are anonymous comments we received from players.

Craftiest Thrower

Jawdropping offhands, scoobers and thumbers for days; no one is sure what this player will pull out next.

Day 2 of the 2015 USA Ultimate Nationals Championships

1. Jenny Fey (Scandal) – 20.25% of the vote

“Beginning in the 2013 season (and continuing today), Jenny has the unparalleled ability to drop the disc anywhere on the field, with any throw. Her vision as a handler sets her apart from anyone else playing right now.”

“She puts up throws where I’m like, “that’s not a good idea,” but she completes them at such a high rate that it’s more like, “that wouldn’t be a good idea for anyone but Jenny.”

2. Alika Johnston (Scandal) – 10.13%

3. Emily Baecher (Brute Squad) – 7.59%

4. Robyn Wiseman (Heist) – 6.33%

“Robyn has such an incredible arsenal of throws, from her full-field pulls, to crushing hucks, you can’t take anything for granted.”

5T. Leila Tunnell (Brute Squad)- 5.06%

Broke us whenever she wanted (sigh).”

5T. Claire Chastain (Molly Brown)- 5.06%

She can do whatever she wants with that plastic thing.”

5T. Rohre Titcomb (Riot)- 5.06%

The Future

This young player is most likely to be the star of the 2024 US Olympic Team.

LONDON, ENGLAND: Jaclyn Verzuh (United States U23 Women #22) catches. Women's Semi-Finals - World U23 Ultimate Championships. July 17, 2015. © Jolie J Lang for UltiPhotos

1. Jaclyn Verzuh (Riot) – 67.53% of the vote

“18 years old, formidable as hell, she has throws, speed, size, everything. She is UNSTOPPABLE.”

2T. Shira Stern (Riot) – 3.90%

2T. Alika Johnston (Scandal) – 3.90%

“She has the unique maturity and talent that her peers don’t–not just a maturity in her game, but on team collaboration, on spirit of the game, and on how she can impact the community as a whole.”

3T. Kami Groom (Brute Squad) – 2.60%

3T. Cassie Wong (Brute Squad) – 2.60%

3T. Steph Lim (Fury) – 2.60%

3T. Hayley Wahlroos (Schwa) – 2.60%

Hardest to Defend

Every time you play her team, this seemingly uncoverable player is juking, skying, and breaking ankles all over the field.

FRISCO, TX: Lien Hoffmann (Brute Squad #4) catches a disc against Riot. USA Ultimate National Championships. Finals. October 4, 2015. © Daniel Thai / for

1. Lien Hoffman (Brute Squad) – 16.67% of the vote

“Lien will always get open, no matter what you try to do to stop her. You can’t assume any move she makes is just a fake – every cut is a viable option made at 100%. And the proof is in the pudding: she busted out her cleat in the women’s final, took an injury sub, and was back on the field a point or two later cutting just as hard while wearing a borrowed cleat.”

2. Kami Groom (Brute Squad) – 11.90%

3. Laura Bitterman (Brute Squad) – 7.14%

4T. Claire Desmond (Fury) – 5.95%

4T. Opi Payne (Molly Brown) – 5.95%

4T. Jenny Fey (Scandal) – 5.95%

She uses her height to box out and get the disc whenever she wants, she’s a great breakmark thrower and she has huge hucks. Overall, she’s a general on the field.

Also mentioned: Sandy Jorgensen (Scandal) – Her speed makes her literally impossible to defend. I’ve never covered anyone so fast in my life.“, Catherine Hui (Traffic)

2015 Club Season MVP

Completely disregarding what any media outlets have said, who, in your opinion, was the most valuable player in club ultimate during the 2015 season?

Frisco, TX: Kami Groom (Brute Squad #7) during the women's final at the 2015 USAU Club Championships

1. Kami Groom (Brute Squad) – 20.00% of the vote

“In all honesty, I think it might be ZZKG. Good ole’ ZOOM ZOOM KAMI GROOM. She is unstoppable. Impossible to guard. A terror on defense. And the fastest person I think I’ve ever met. She can jump. She can lay out. She can change direction on a dime. She can break the mark. Shes got a mean flick huck. She is fantastic. She wins games. She is legend.”

You could argue for MVP and “Hardest to Defend” for both Kami Groom or Lien Hoffman – they are both exceptional players. Kami is unstoppable. Her speed earns her huge D’s and critical deep cuts for the score. Her ups give her big skies on both O and D. Her throws make her one of the most well-rounded players, and this was the first season where I’ve seen her pull out a full array of throws: dumps, uplines, throws to in-cuts and solid hucks. She is an incredible player. Very quiet and unassuming but absolutely deadly to play against.”

2. Jenny Fey (Scandal) – 12.00%

3. Leila Tunnell (Brute Squad) – 8.00%

Her throws and ability to field marshal Brute’s offense were unmatched by anyone all season long. Not only that, but she came up with critical plays (layout D on the goal line on DGP at the US Open) when her team needed them.”

“Leila’s strength as a thrower has only improved in the last few years, culminating this year in Brute’s championship run. Leila had complete mastery over the wind at Pro Flight Finale this year – when other handlers were happy to string together upwind passes of a few yards, Leila was bombing spot-on 40-yard backhands with ease, completely dominating other teams’ defensive sets and enabling the Brute offense to crush all season long. Ability aside, Leila brings a calming presence and leadership to her teams that enables those around her to excel.”

4T. Lien Hoffmann (Brute Squad) – 6.67%

4T. Emily Baecher (Brute Squad) – 6.67%

4T. Cassie Wong (Brute Squad) – 6.67%

Also mentioned: Claire Desmond (Fury), Robyn Wiseman (Heist)

Best Individual Twitter Feed

Maybe it’s funny, maybe it’s insightful — who is a must follow?

FRISCO, TX: Fury vs Riot in semifinals. 2014 USAU National Championships. October 16, 2014. © Alex Fraser for UltiPhotos

1. Gwen Ambler (Riot) – 27.27% of the vote

Nobody else delivers the quality of women’s ultimate reporting that Gwen does

2. Lisa Pitcaithley (Fury) – 15.15%

3T. Shellie Cohen (Brute Squad) – 9.09%

She’s just hilarious. Check out her blog.”

3T. Laura Bitterman (Brute Squad) – 9.09%

4T. Robyn Wiseman (Heist) – 6.06%

4T. Michelle Ng (Phoenix) – 6.67%

“If Michelle Ng tweets about it, it’s something you need to know.”

Best Hair

Who has the best locks in the division?

FRISCO, TX: Octavia Payne (Molly Brown #9). USA Ultimate National Championships. Pool Play. October 1, 2015. © Daniel Thai / for

1T. Opi Payne (Molly Brown) – 9.62% of the vote

1T. Claire Desmond (Fury) – 9.62%

1T. Janel Venzant (Showdown) – 9.62%

2T. Liz Duffy (Fury) – 5.77%

3T. Yayuk Joffres (Traffic) – 5.77%

Also mentioned: Gwen Ambler (Riot) – “Still Gwen! Her hair during the finals… impeccable. Gave off the vibe of “I don’t care” but also “I still have perfect hair” at the same time”, Rohre Titcomb (Riot), Julie Eagle Malacek (Showdown), Monisha White (Nightlock) – “Not only is her hair thicker and more lustrous than anyone else’s, she plays in elaborate hairstyles in which many people would only have attended prom.”

Class Clown

Seemingly never serious, this player is most likely to make people laugh, both on and off the field.

BLAINE, MN: Laura Bitterman (Brute Squad #33) catches. 2015 USA Ultimate Pro Flight Finale. August 23, 2015. © Alex Fraser for

1. Laura Bitterman (Brute Squad) – 12.50% of the vote

2. Shellie Cohen (Brute Squad) – 10.94%

3T. Lisa Pitcaithley (Fury) – 6.25%

3T. Lauren Sadler (Riot) – 6.25%

“seemingly never serious” but goodness will she laugh and then lay out d the shit out of you

Also mentioned: Courtney Verhaalen (Brute Squad), Rachael Westgate (Brute Squad), Cassie Wong (Brute Squad), Ashley Daly Morgan (Molly Brown), Mariel Hammond (Phoenix), Bailey Zahniser (Riot), Dominique Fontenette (Riot), Molly McKeon (Riot)

Best Offseason Fun Tournament Teammate

If you were making a Lei-Out/Kaimana/Fools Fest/Potlatch/Poultry Days team, who would you most want on it, taking personality, party prowess, and overall playing ability into account?

1. Laura Bitterman (Brute Squad) – 5.80%

2T. Lisa Pitcaithley (Fury) – 4.35% of the vote

2T. Jesse Shofner (Schwa) – 4.35%

Has her off-season priorities in order, which I always respect and appreciate when we’re playing against each other or partying in the off-season.”

Also mentioned: Mariel Hammond (Phoenix) – “The greatest party captain ever. She gave a speech that took parts of sports motivation speeches and pumped up our team to get wasted and win the party”Bailey Zahniser (Riot) – Filthy playing + best outfits in the division – have you seen those sequins??

Most Attractive

Yes, this is happening — who’s the dreamiest player in the Women’s division?


1. Kaela Jorgensen (Fury) – 13.43%

Her hair looks good even when she’s playing”

2. Anna Nazarov (Fury) – 8.96%

“Because who isn’t in love with Anna Nazarov?”

3T. Lien Hoffmann (Brute Squad) – 7.46%

3T. Hana Kawai (Riot) – 7.46%

“i consider myself straight, but god dammit i would make out with hana kawai all day if she let me”

4T. Crystal Davis (Molly Brown) – 4.48%

4T. Hannah Leathers (Ozone) – 4.48%

4T. Kate Scarth (Traffic) – 4.48%

All photos courtesy of Ultiphotos. Photographers include William “Brody” Brotman, Paul C. Andris, Alex Fraser, Daniel Thai and Jolie J Lang.

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