Beau Kittredge is the AUDL MVP

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - Add AUDL MVP to Beau Kittredge’s long list of ultimate achievements. The San Jose Spider workhorse lived up to the pre-season hype in his rookie year for the AUDL, and was selected as the league’s most valuable player in voting that concluded last week.

Throughout the season, Kittredge was unstoppable. He employed his otherworldly athleticism and hybridized skillset of throws to dominate the increased dimensions of the professional field like no one else, leading the Spiders to a championship.

“He managed to make the bigger field feel smaller when he was playing defense and was a threat at all times offensively,” Toronto Rush star and MVP runner-up Mark Lloyd said. “He is without a doubt the 2014 AUDL MVP, and I congratulate him on a great season and championship.”

The honor further solidifies Kittredge’s place as one of ultimate’s all-time greatest players, and his strong, season-long on-the-field performance silenced critics who questioned whether Kittredge could commit fully to the Spiders. He played in 15 of 17 games on the season—missing only a single Salt Lake City roadtrip—and was on the field for a team-leading 414 total points. While he didn’t top the leader board in any one statistical category, he was the AUDL’s only player with more than 30 assists, goals and blocks (34 A, 49 G, 34 D), which demonstrated an unparalleled balance and utility to his game. If he wasn’t making plays himself, Kittredge was making his teammates better—a core component of Kittredge’s overall playing philosophy.

“If you want to be able to win a game, you have to be able to do as much as you can to win the game,” Kittredge said in an interview in February. “That means being the type of player who can help a team win no matter what the situation calls for.”

Kittredge’s signing alongside longtime friend Ashlin Joye and the indomitable Kurt Gibson to the Spiders was one of the AUDL’s biggest moves in the offseason, and immediately made the team a championship contender. On the field, Kittredge contributed on both defense and offense, switching roles as needed. Case in point: in the AUDL semifinals, with the Spiders offense struggling against a suffocating Madison Radicals zone defense, Kittredge switched to the O-line, continually manipulated open space to his team’s advantage, and effectively neutered the best coverage in the league en route to a big win.   

Often guarded by the opponent’s best defender, Kittredge’s presence created opportunities for other Spiders to make plays, particularly fellow AUDL All-West Division team member Simon Higgins, as well as Mark Elbogen and Marcelo Sanchez.

Yet despite boasting one of the most talented rosters in the league, the Spiders relied on their big man the most.   

But, contrary to popular belief, big plays don’t drive Kittredge. Neither do scoring goals or breaking league records. These pursuits don’t fuel him. And while the MVP hardware sure is nice, he’s not interested in racking up awards. Kittredge started and finished the season focused on winning and building a strong team.    
 
“You can make the biggest play of the game and still lose the game,” he said. “I don’t think you should ever dwell on scoring lots of points or making lots of Ds, you should dwell on winning the game, which is much different. You learn that as you grow into a better player. You learn what it means to win a game.”

An AUDL championship and MVP award mark a fitting end to Kittredge’s first season. As a marquee player on a high-profile expansion team, he began the season looking for ways to better represent the sport, players and ultimate community. The level of scrutiny and criticism he faced forced Kittredge to tune out the noise and focus on developing his skills and defining his vision for the season. And while winning topped the list, part of the allure of playing for the Spiders was the way the owners and AUDL treated its players, and Kittredge’s chance to continue to grow as an athlete while playing a sport he’s passionate about.

“There were so many outstanding players and performances throughout the AUDL this year and a number of players deserved and warranted serious consideration for this honor,” AUDL Commissioner Steve Gordon said. “Beau’s performance however, stood above the rest and I’m both excited and proud to see him receive this award.  Beau is not only arguably the best player in the world, he is a tireless ambassador for the game and what it stands for.  While this award is for his performance on the field, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.”

And while his on-field theatrics are MVP-worthy, Kittredge’s off-the field antics also deserve mention. His penchant for stoking the fires among teammates and opponents at every opportunity is unparalleled. Kittredge noted that part of the AUDL’s draw was the chance to beat DC Breeze Coach Alex “Dutchy” Ghesquiere, because his “favorite thing in the world is to beat Dutchy at anything—he just takes it so personally.” Kittredge also went on the record to tease FlameThrowers players Sam Kanner and Cassidy Rasmussen about the amount of weight they put on in the offseason due to popcorn intake.

“It’s not really about me,” Kittredge said in response to the award, reorienting the spotlight and his inane wit towards another friend in Joye. 

“See Ashlin Joye is in med school right now, buried in debt, covered in work, struggling to find housing and driving a bedraggled truck with no brakes. Winning the MVP could have roused him from his fragile state of despair which all of us in San Francisco love to use as a comparison. Someone will always say ‘Man, I am glad I’m not in med school.’ So you see it really didn't matter who won the MVP—it's all about Ashlin not winning, balance is kept, misery for one brings happiness to all.” 

Outlandishness aside, it comes down to what Beau knows most: ultimate is where his passion lies.

“There are definitely days where I think why am I still doing this, I should quit and do something that would be considered a normal pastime or a normal sport,” Kittredge said. “But then I think whatever, I like doing what I love.”

- Caitlin Cieslik-Miskimen and Adam Ruffner