The wait is finally over! Listed below is your 2015-16 National Collegiate Dodgeball Association All-Rookie Team. Congrats to each of the 15 players who earned this distinction (through a league-wide vote). It’s safe to say that the future is bright for collegiate dodgeball with these talented players emerging as stars in our league. Here’s the list of the top 15 rookies in the nation from this past season:
- Brandon Meisel – Grand Valley State
Brandon Meisel played the second half of the season on a torn ACL (he has since undergone surgery). Despite this injury, Meisel was able to make a significant impact on a team full of talented players. His strong arm, strategic play, and most importantly his competitive nature are all reasons why he earned the respect of both his teammates and opponents. And the NCDA can get used to hearing his name, as Meisel has taken over the captain position for the Lakers.
- Nick Hazergian – Saginaw Valley State
Nick Hazergian had an incredible first season for the Cardinals of SVSU. He emerged in January as a power thrower, and nearly won Baller of the Month after his performance at CMU’s King of the Mountain tournament. Nick time and time again was able to provide clutch plays for Saginaw, as he helped lead them to a second place finish at the Michigan Dodgeball Cup (MDC). Don’t be surprised when Hazergian has an even bigger impact in the NCDA in his second season.
- Joe Rindone – Towson
Not many players have come out of nowhere onto the national scene quite like Joe Rindone from Towson. Tucked away on the East Coast, TU rarely gets to face other NCDA teams outside of their region. In late March Rindone became a name to remember, and at Nationals that became even more apparent. Joe was easily one of the top 5 hardest throwers in the nation in 2015, as he helped Towson have arguably their most successful season in program history.
- Aaron Krafft – Grand Valley State
Aaron Krafft comes in at #4 on this list, but that might still be underrating this guy. Krafft had a stellar season as a freshman for GVSU in 2015-16. He was the first rookie to ever make Grand Valley’s overtime roster. He made seemingly a game winning play when he made a diving catch in overtime against MSU at the MDC. And, oh by the way, he was one of the three players left on the court in the final point of the season when GVSU beat CMU in the National Championship Game. That’s more accomplishments than most people have in their career, but Aaron Krafft is only just getting started.
- Nick Watson – Central Michigan
Nick Watson is another guy on this list that really emerged during the second half of the season. Watson found his role on the team as one of their clutch catchers, and he certainly filled his role well. It will be exciting to see how this player improves next year. Maybe he has what it takes to replace big-time catchers like Jacob Leski or Brett Hadwin.
- Cole Kraft – Akron
Cole was certainly not one of the most physically imposing players in the league. What he lacks in size he certainly makes up for in skill. Kraft is (pun intended) one of the craftiest players in the league already, and I would argue one of the toughest guys to get out. He has a quick release and good hands, and it helped him emerge as one of the top players for Akron last year. The future is bright for both Cole and his improving team.
- Logan Stephan – Baldwin Wallace
Logan Stephan gets the nod at #7 on the All-Rookie Team. Admittedly I was not able to see Logan in action this year, but I know that he has earned the respect of his opponents as he and Baldwin Wallace certainly impressed the NCDA with strong performances throughout the 2015-26 season.
- Sam Stockdale – Grand Valley State
Sam Stockdale is the third Laker on this list and he is another very deserving player. Sam, along with Krafft, was one of the few survivors at the end of the title match. Stockdale earned a starting spot on the GVSU team right away (unheard of at GVSU), and he was able to improve steadily all year. Stockdale had a great final month to the year, and was a big reason why GVSU was able to 4-Peat as National Champs. Sam will take over as an assistant captain for GVSU next year.
- Josiah Nodal – DePaul
Josiah is the lone representative from DePaul on this list. At the moment he may only be recognized as the younger brother of Niko Nodal, but I’m sure that will soon change. Don’t be surprised when Josiah hones his skills and turns into an All-American level player over the next few years. Great news for DePaul, bad news for the rest of the league.
- Kyle Bruce – Saginaw Valley State
Kyle Bruce rounds out the top ten on this list, and that might be too low of a spot for him. Bruce was a standout early on this year for SVSU. His athleticism was easy to see even when he was still learning the game. Bruce, along with Hazergian, were two of SVSU’s overtime-six. That is impressive for a pair of rookies. I expect to see a lot more from Kyle in the future. He is already a well-rounded performer, so I can’t wait to see where his career goes.
- David Guare – Towson
David Guare is a guy that deserves more recognition than what he gets. He came on strong in the second half of the year (a trend among these rookies). I vividly remember Guare having a solid performance at Nationls which makes me confident he will keep improving next season. David Guare is going to help Towson immensely next season due to his fast-paced play style.
- Jacob Devine – Grand Valley State
Jake Devine is the fourth and final GVSU Laker on the All-Rookie Team. Devine came in as a junior and had a huge impact for the national champs in 2015-16. After only a few tournaments last year he was already earning a reputation as a great catcher. Late in the season his arm seemed to catch up with his hands as he became a very dangerous all-around player. I don’t lack any confidence when I say that year two will for Jake Devine will be a very successful one.
- Brendon Meyer – Kentucky
After UK brought on the top rookie class in the nation in 2014-15, they still managed to find room for more impact performers. Meyer is someone who will certainly be counted on in a larger role next year as UK seems poised for a breakthrough season. He helped the Wildcats to the quarterfinals this past year, and will have higher aspirations in 2016-17.
- Austin Brege – Central Michigan
Austin Brege, yes I’ll say this one more time, had a great second half to the season. Brege found a way onto the court on an already stacked CMU roster. That alone is no small feat. Beyond that, he was able to develop into a strong all-around player for the Chippewas. I am highly anticipating his return in the fall of 2016, because I think he is a future star.
- Kyle Smart – Ohio
Kyle Smart earns the final spot on this list as the lone member of Ohio Universtiy’s team. There was a large learning curve involved for Ohio this year as they struggled to get in the win column. Don’t be surprised when Kyle, and his teammates, have much more success in their second year.