Photo by Paul Andris – UltiPhotos.com
Washington D.C. announced on Monday that they have re-signed ten players from the 2014 championship team.
David Cranston, Jeff Wodatch, Tom Doi, Calvin Oung, Delrico Johnson, Ben Fleming, Dominique Gibson, Brian Marshall, Brent Bellinger and Lloyd Blake will take the field again for the Current in 2015.
On Thursday, Dec. 18, the D.C. Current welcomed their first signings of the 2015 season with a party and celebration at The Greene Turtle at Verizon Center. The party coincided with the 2014 Championship Ring Ceremony and officially kicked off the Current’s campaign to become the first professional ultimate franchise to win back-to-back championships.
“It’s not often you have as tight of a group of guys like we do in their prime,” said General Manager Matt Dewhurst. “It’s a rare situation you have to take advantage of, and our goal is to keep this group together for as long as possible because the sky is the limit right now. We still have a lot of work to do, but bringing back this group was a huge first step.”
With this first wave of re-signings, the Current solidified the core of their team going into next season, announcing to the rest of the league that they are ready for another title run.
“We are very excited about all our returners and equally excited about the potential for new D.C. Current players to join the team,” said Head Coach Keven Moldenhauer. “We have created an identity and culture. We will continue to be aggressive downfield, positive and supportive teammates and the most prepared team in the MLU.”
The group includes a number of big name players such as Eastern Conference all-stars on both sides of the disc. Cranston, Johnson and Gibson were named to the All-Eastern Conference Defensive Team in 2014 and Wodatch was named to the All-Eastern Conference Offensive Team. Cranston and Wodatch also served as team captains and, along with Johnson, Bellinger, Marshall, Doi and Oung, will enter their third season with the Current.
“We’re just so much more experienced,” said Cranston. “If you go back and watch our first game against the Spinners [in 2013], the larger field, time management and lack of depth all hurt us. [Coaches] Keven and Will [Smolinski] have done a tremendous job making the roster stronger from top to bottom through recruiting and coaching. Our offensive and defensive game-planning has gotten better and we’ve been able to develop some younger talent.”
While the group is heavy in experience, the re-signing of 2014 rookies Fleming, Gibson and Blake are also notable. All three made a run at Eastern Conference Rookie of the Year in 2014 with Gibson finishing in fourth despite only playing part of the season while he finished up his junior year at Virginia Commonwealth University. All three will have increased roles in 2015 as the coaching staff will be looking for new ways to score points as the rest of the league adjusts to their offense.
“I expect teams to respect our deep threats more than they did last year. Vancouver learned the hard way what happens when you do not respect our deep game,” Moldenhauer said. “We will be even more aggressive downfield. We will focus on creating larger spaces that allow the D.C. Current players to shine and show off their disc skills. Expect another fun, exciting season.”
But while the re-signing of ten great players is impressive, the difficulty of the road ahead is not lost on these players.
“Repeating a championship in any sport is incredibly is difficult,” said Wodatch. “We need to be prepared – even more than last year – to take other teams’ best punches week after week while continuing to focus on getting better and building D.C. ultimate.”