Monday, January 12, 2015

Outlook Into the 2015 Season

Welcome to the beginning of the 2015 MLU season. The third year of the league will once again feature no new franchises, contrast to the "rival" AUDL which has now grown to an incredible 25 teams that feature Divisions in the East, Midwest, West Coast, and Southeast.  While expansion for the AUDL is rather exciting for a professional ultimate league, Major League Ultimate is still able  to produce excitement on and off the field without the addition of teams.  This new season is poised to bring a whole new level of excitement for the fans, which is the primary goal for the league, bringing in new athletes while still attracting the veterans to remain professional athletes.  This page will be your one stop resource to all the top information regarding tryouts, re-signing players, and new additions for the 2015 season.  It will constantly be updated into the MLU off-season as more teams announce their 2015 rosters so make sure to regularly come back for more!

In the two years of the MLU, the Eastern Conference has seen the same script written twice in a row.  One team dominates the division in order to head to the MLU Championship where the team goes on to control the Western Conference Team en route to Championship glory.  To make this script even more repetitive, the same two teams who made the Eastern Conference Championship Game in the inaugural season repeated in 2014 (of course the Boston Whitecaps and the DC Current flip-flopping victories).  However this year the two franchises that have been at the bottom of the league, the New York Rumble and Philadelphia Spinners, have a lot to prove and are well on track to break the dominance of Boston and DC.

Boston Whitecaps
2015 Roster Announced

Signings from 2014 season: Jeff Graham (2013 Championship MVP), John Hirschberger, Alex Simmons, Christian Foster, Miles Montgomery-Butler, Jake Taylor, Adrian Banerji, Brian Zid, Eric Stevens, Jack Hatchett, James Smart, Josh Markette, Lee Farnsworth, Matthew McDonnell, Matthew Heath, Michael Miller, Michael Sender, Misha Herscu, Piers MacNaughton, Robin Meyers, Rustin Ingold-Smith, Shaun Doherty, Teddy Browar-Jarus, Terry Roth, and Will Neff

Key Additions: None

New York Rumble

2015 Roster Announced

Signings from 2014 season: Joe Anderson, Robbie Gillies, Ben Faust, Quinn Hunziker, Marques Browlee, David Vukovich, Jibran Mieser, Sean Murray, Mike Hennessy, Jake Herman, Brenton Hard, Markian Kuzmowycz, Andy Bosco, and Chris Mazur (2013 East MVP)

Key Additions: Chris Wicus (2013 Rumble), John Wodatch (UConn Grind), Andrew Hollingsworth (Chain Lightning), Alon Brown (2013-14 NY Empire), Chris Gwinner (Chain Lightning), and Scott Xu (Rutgers)

Philadelphia Spinners
2015 Roster Announced

Signings from 2014 season: Nick Hirannet, Jake Rainwater, Patrick Lindsey, Trey Katzenbach, Matt Esser (3 year deal), Patrick Diviney (2 year deal), Ben Scharadin (2 year deal), Gabe Colton, Dustin Damiano, Leon Chou, Jack Casey, Matt Zumbrum, Matt Glazer, David Baer, Michael Panna, Matt Paparone, Mike Baer, Marshall Ward, Nick Mathison and Ian McClellan.

Key Additions: None

Washington DC Current
2015 Roster Announced

Signings from 2014 season: David Cranston, Jeff Wodatch, Tom Doi, Calvin Oung, Delrico Johnson, Ben Fleming, Dominique Gibson, Brian Marshall, Brent Bellinger, Lloyd Blake, Markham Shofner (2014 Championship MVP), Alan Kolick (2014 East MVP), Erik Salmi, Peter Prial, Nate Castine, Erik Miner, Frederick Tsai, and Nate Castine 

Key Additions: Ryan Nam (DC Breeze), Johnathan Neeley (2013 Current), and Chuck Cantone (2014 Montreal Royal)

Unlike the East, in the two seasons of the MLU all of the Western Conference teams have made it to the Western Conference Championship (the Dogfish and Rainmakers in 2013; the Stags and Nighthawks in 2014).  Heading into 2015 it is just as up into the air as the previous two.  Teams continue to be shuffled up, adding and losing some of the top ultimate players in their respective regions.  The Nighthawks once again are expected to be one of the top teams this season but who else will be up there with them is uncertain.  San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland all have there own reasons for thinking they can make the playoffs.  

Portland Stags
2015 Roster Announced

Signings from 2014 Season: Topher Davis (2 year deal), Cody Bjorklund, Peter Woodside, Aaron Adamson, Riley Meinershagen, Tyler Cable, Eli Blackman, Timmy Perston, Camden Allison-Hall, Chris Beach-Rehner, Vinh Bui, Grant Cole, Chris Hancock, Raphy Hayes, Steve Kenton, Ben McGinn, Dan Suppnick, and John Thornton

Key Additions: Kevin Minderhout (2013 Stags), Sean Parker (2013 Stags), and Dan Shaw (2013 Stags)

San Francisco Dogfish
2015 Roster Announced

Signings from 2014 Season: Sam Adamson, Jackson Stearns, James Yeager, Nick Weiss, Chris McCarty, Ian Ranahan, David Abram, James Sheridan, Taylor Cascino, James Pollard, Evan Boucher, Taylor Cascino, Drew Kim, Matt Kissmann, Eric Rivera

Key Additions: Michael McGuirk (American BBQ)

Seattle Rainmakers
2015 Roster Announced

Signings from 2014 Season: Khalif El-Salaam (3 year deal), Mark Burton (2 year deal), Eddie Feeley (3 year deal), Henry Phan (2 year deal), Ben Beehner, Isaac Entz, Gavin McKibben, Sam Pickel, Chris Rupp, Todd Sliva, Danny Trytiak

Key Additions: None

Vancouver Nighthawks
2015 Roster Announced

Signings from 2014 Season: Brendan Wong (2014 West MVP), Morgan Hibbert, Charles 'Bobo' Eyrich, Matthew Berezan, Kirk Savage, Aaron Loach, Jordan Tessarolo, Jon Hayduk

Key Additions: None

Once again 2015 is sure to live up to the hype that has been growing in intensity since the inaugural season.  Coming into this season teams are on level playing ground, there might be favorites but there is not a single team that someone can say without a benefit of a doubt has absolutely no chance of making the playoffs.  Will Philly or New York break through in the East?  Will San Francisco return to Championship form?  Will the West break through in the Championship Game?  But first, and right now more importantly, who will make the team?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

House of Current

Photo found from the Washington DC Current Facebook Page
All rights to the picture are to UltiPhotos 
Just like that 2014 came to a close in the MLU.  New sponsors were announced, new GM's hired, teams calling new stadiums home, and the DC Current continuing to celebrate their first MLU Championship.  This past season just so happened to be my first season as a blogger for the league which was then followed up by a job opportunity to be the Public Address Announcer for, you guessed it, the Washington DC Current.

Working for the Current and the MLU has been a different experience that I never expected to have at such a early stage in my sports media career.  Working with the team gave me direct access to happenings and story-lines occurring within the league before they were publicly announced or covered.  I hope many of my readers can attest to this previous statement, in which I hoped to give the fans in-depth coverage that cannot be found anywhere else.  Every home game I would arrive at Cardinal Stadium roughly three to two hours before the opening pull.  This was in order to prepare for the game and also to help with the game day setup; where no two games were alike in preparation or on the field.  I would not actually begin announcing until a half hour before the start of the game, with the sponsorship reads, player intros, and the introduction of the national anthem singer.

Photo found from the Washington DC Current Facebook Page
All rights to the picture are to UltiPhotos 
My boss, Justin Szech, (people close to him know him as "Jay") the Director of Events for the Current was entering his first season in his position as well.   He was the man who hired me and we were entering the rodeo of professional ultimate together.  When the first home game came against the Boston Whitecaps, perhaps the biggest regular season game of 2014, Jay, myself, and the rest of the game day crew were in over our heads.  We managed to get everything ready for the game and little did we know that this was going to be one of the best games in MLU history thus far.  As Jay and I sat down in the pressbox getting ready for the show, he told me to just go with what felt natural.  I had been playing ultimate for two years at this point and was pursuing a career in sports commentating, so I had a general background in what was expected of me. Once the game began, my instincts took over. I brought in new cheers and sayings; some that did work and some that did not.  Out of all of them the most famous one would have to be the "DCD" that would ring across the stadium for every defensive play that the Current had.  However, I cannot take all the credit for the idea, it actually stemmed from a Daniel Kantor tweet back on April 15th in regards to their opening weekend victory over the Spinners.  The Current would ride this cheer all the way to the MLU Championship Game with a 10-1 record, 6-0 at home in Cardinal Stadium.

As part of the game day crew we knew our job was done when we were able to call ourselves Eastern Conference Champions; the team would then be forced to do the rest on their own in Philadelphia at PPL Park.  With the power of the Current's GM Matt Dewhurst, the entire staff was able to attend the Championship Game to support the team that we had worked with all season.  As I began to prepare for the trip I received an email from the Commissioner Jeff Snader, asking if I would like to PA Announce the Championship Game.

Without hesitation I accepted the offer.

Due to my professional responsibility as a member of the sports media, I had to take out my bias towards the DC Current in their biggest game of the season.  As many of you know DC would go on to win the Championship Game to make their record 11-1 overall, 6-0 at home, and 7-0 with yours truly as the PA Announcer.

Being a part of the Washington DC Current Staff for 2014, is a memory that I will hold onto throughout my career in sports and sports media.  The GM Matt Dewhurst made it clear at the beginning of the season that we do not work for the team but with the team and that we have the same mutual goal of winning the MLU Championship.

Via my Twitter account
The organization accomplished that goal together, not trying to take anything away from what the team and players did on the field because they are the ones that have the most responsibility.  As a result of working with the team, Dewhurst allowed the staff to purchase a championship ring if they so pleased. This offer was one I could not refuse.

Now again, in the same situation as the players, the money is not the same as other professional sports leagues but is adequate enough to compensate the staff for our services.  However the money is not what I nor anyone else from the DC Current organization is doing this for, we are doing it to be a part of something that not anyone else can claim to do.  This past year we accomplished our ultimate goal in the MLU Championship and are already looking forward to 2015.

I would like to thank Jeff Snader, Matt Dewhurst, Mark Evangelisto, Justin Szech, Tom Levy, John Phillips, Bryan Dombrowski, Paul Des Maris, the MLU, the DC Current, of course my girlfriend Ashley Hill and anyone else I might have left off this list for the opportunities and help this past year. I am looking forward to another season of working with you all and Major League Ultimate.