Photos by Sean Carpenter and Brian Chu – UltiPhotos.com
Major League Ultimate announced its Rookies of the Year awards on Wednesday. Evan Klein of the Seattle Rainmakers and Billy Sickles of the Philadelphia Spinners earned the Western and Eastern Conference awards, respectively.
The Rookie of the Year awards are given to the most outstanding first-year players in each conference during the regular season.
Klein entered the season for the Rainmakers and immediately made his presence known, putting up 17 goals and 15 assists on his way to a 32-point rookie season. This feat is particularly impressive considering most of his time was spent on the defensive side of the disc, playing 123 of his 146 points on the D-line. Klein finished as the leading scorer on breaks in the league, tallying 27 of his 32 points after the turn. Klein’s 2015 season marks his emergence as a major player in Seattle and is a major reason the Rainmakers are playing in the MLU Championship on Saturday.
Similarly, Billy Sickles had an immediate impact for the Spinners. Sickles threw Philadelphia’s first goal of the season in Week 1, a beautiful 35-yard backhand to Matt Glazer, and the rookie never stopped powering the Spinner’s offense. Ending the season with 42 points on 15 goals and 27 assists, Sickles led all rookies in scoring, tying perennial MVP candidate Jeff Graham and only fell one point behind 2014 Eastern Conference MVP Alan Kolick (43) for the top spot on the East’s scoring leaderboard. Sickles quickly became a dependable piece of Philadelphia’s efficient offense, with a 96.1 percent completion rate (second among top 20 point scorers to Portland’s Peter Woodside) and should be a building piece for the 2016 Spinners and beyond.
Western Conference Ballot:
1. Evan Klein (Seattle)
2. Gabe Saunkeah (San Francisco)
3. David Hochhalter (Vancouver)
4. Nathan Lam (Vancouver)
5. Jeff Pape (Seattle)
Other players receiving votes: Brian Penner (Portland), Andrew Hooker (San Francisco), Steven Rice (Portland), William Vu (Vancouver), Ari Nitikman (Vancouver)
Eastern Conference Ballot:
1. Billy Sickles (Philadelphia)
2. Tyler Chan (Boston)
3. Chris Kocher (New York)
4. Zach Norrbom (D.C.)
5. John Wodatch (New York)