There are some athletes so dominant that they define a sporting era. As we close out the decade, let's pay respect to these seven women who have put their bodies on the line to define what defence meant for Ultimate in Australia over the last 10 years!
With appearances on a string of high-level rosters over the decade, Lisi has made a name for herself collecting blocks around the world. Despite her small frame, Lisi would fearlessly fly into every contest, often coming away the victor.
Put very simply, Lisi was a true scrapper and I don’t mean this to be an insult. She was a defender able to create something from nothing. Her never-say-die attitude and dogged style of defence would apply pressure over time, a slow building wave that would wash away even the most stubborn of sea walls over time. Love her or hate her, Lisi didn’t care. She was there to beat you with her brand of Ultimate and there wasn’t really anything you could do about it. — ME
The moment I knew Mikahaila Dignam was destined for greatness was 2016 Mixed Nationals in Sydney. I was commentating the bronze medal match between Ellipsis and Pompey Magnus. And I saw Mikhaila hunt a block up the front of a zone that blew my mind.
We often talk about “hunting” blocks but Mikhaila helps you understand what that means. She can consistently apply pressure, use her athleticism to shut down players or get blocks on wayward discs. But it’s the ones where the thrower really thought that was an option, the ones where the receiver claps a bit of thin air where the disc used to be, the one that you can see from the sideline but you can’t see from on the field that get me so excited about Mikhaila.
She sees it, she gets it and she does it again and again and again. — MH
This one is simple so I’ll just say it. There has never been a deep defender and receiver as dominant as Lauren “Mama” Brown and there may never be one again. I find it hard to write about her objectively because I basically think she’s a god. Yeah it’s the height but it’s the read, the drive, the fire, the timing, the ability to just GET IT despite any odds against her. It’s everything.
So while she only played for a short amount of time this decade at the highest level, I think the mark she left on Australian Ultimate is so significant that she has to be here. — MH
Now admittedly Kya Wiya was still in diapers while some of her teammates were playing their first World championship. But Kya’s talent is undeniable, a fait accompli of such epic proportions that to leave her off a team of the decade, despite the fact that her first Juniors was in 2018 and she’s still only 19 years old, would have felt wrong.
If you’ve played with or against Kya in the last few years you know what we’re talking about. Watching the matchup between her and Sarah Wentworth at the Division 2 Mixed final (rip), was legitimately electric. She was the tied leading assist getter and highest goal scorer in a very talented U24 Mixed team this year. Her performance in the AUL final felt like a moment. — MH
Around every defender on the field there’s an invisible ‘room for error’ circle to consider when throwing near them. For slower players it’s small and for the best defenders this circle extends well beyond their arm’s reach. For Rosie, it’s just whichever half of the field she’s currently occupying.
On defence, Rosie is a thrower’s nightmare. Breathtakingly fast and with an ability to explosively bid in any direction, she makes the impossible seem easy. She was tested at World Games 2017 but not found wanting. She was a terror in the deep space, clocking more goals and D’s than almost any other player on the Aussie squad. — ME
I’d be a rich man if I had a dollar for every time in the last 10 years I’ve heard someone say “Woah, Winky’s still got it!”. And based on current evidence, I’m sure she’ll still have it at the end of the next decade too. Winky has not just managed to stay relevant late into her career, she is still at the very top of the game. It’s not about her throws, or her height, it’s a bit about her athleticism but it’s more about unwillingness to be beaten.
Something that set Winky, and her generation of players, apart is a raw aggression and fierce competitiveness that feels like it’s been lost (and missed) by the current youth dominating the game. In Winky there is a rumbling energy that simmers just below the surface and when unleashed bad things happen to her opponents and good things happen to her teammates. You can’t really explain it, or quantify it, you just know it to be true.
Whatever ‘it’ is, Winky’s got it. — ME
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that any list with Sarah Wentworth also has Viv Stettner on it. They are inseparable in the minds of the Australian Ultimate public and, honestly, after sharing a cab ride with them after the AUS vs JPN test matches, they are pretty inseparable full stop.
Viv’s performance during the Test Matches and as part of the World Games team - 17 years after her first Australian rep performance - cemented her as one of the greatest players of the decade, and maybe all time. Her block getting, the grind, the ferocity. It’s exciting and it’s what put her at the top of the game for so long. — MH