Freestyle Disc Top Players

2000-2009 Freestyle Disc Top Players (The Decades Awards)

As the 1990’s ebbed and the new millennia emerged there was a feeling that something precious, something important was being lost. The number of players who were attending tournaments was diminishing, new players were few and tournaments were faced with dwindling numbers. But an 1998 Beach Ultimate tournament in Italy would change the direction of the sport of freestyle frisbee forever.

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Top Men's Player of the Decade: 2000s
Tom Leitner (USA/ITA)

In 1998 the Paganello Beach Ultimate Tournament in Rimini, Italy would offer Freestyle as an event. The impact of that seemingly simple idea was profound as an explosion in number of players, the quality of play and the passion for the game would redefine the game. American players Larry Imperiale, Paul Kenny, Tom Leitner and Arthur Coddington were all influential to the new European vanguard. Founding Euro jammers such as Jan Ekman, Clay Collera, Reto Zimmerman and Joakim Arveskaer would be viewed as visionaries. Fledgling Freestyle pockets would emerge across Europe and gel in ways that would have seemed unimaginable only 10 years before. There was no longer a new hope, this was a new beginning.

When Tom Leitner first went to Europe and discovered its potentiality one of his first priorities was to find every single jam there was in Europe. He would show up at a piazza jam in Rome, a turf session in Paris, a jam in Amsterdam and astound the unsuspecting local jammers. It was like Jimi Hendrix showing up to and crashing a garage band session.

In 2004, Tommy would move to Rome and use that as his base. He was about to become one of the most influential players of all time and to have the greatest run of his already historic competitive career. Tommy would amass 9 Majors, 9 Paganello's and be the #1 ranked Freestyle at the end of the year 4 times. However, the most significant contribution of Tommy Lightning's legacy would be his raising the bar for the next generation to achieve. But Tommy Lightning was not alone in his mastery.

Arthur Coddington and Dave Lewis also have very strong arguments for being the best player of the decade. Arthur won 10 major titles during the 2000's. He too was a very strong influence for the new Euro Jammers patiently mentoring the young players so they could find their own form. His steady partner Dave Lewis also won 9 major titles and finished as the #1 ranked player in the world 4 times.

Tom Leitner

Top Women's Player of the Decade: 2000s
Lisa Hunrichs (USA)

Lisa began the decade hot winning the 2000 FPA Women's Pairs with Mary Lowry and the 2000 FPA Mixed with Arthur Coddington. From there she never really let up winning a major title in 7 of the 10 years. She was also the #1 ranked player 4 times. This was the decade where Lisa found her groove with 10 major wins. During this time she matured as a player and refined a style that would feature splendid touch, high difficulty and long elegant lines. At the end of the decade it became apparent that she was one of the greatest women players of all time.

Top Pairs Team - 2000s
Arthur Coddington &
Dave Lewis (USA)

The top team of the 90s were far from done as Arthur Coddington and Dave Lewis won 3 FPA Pairs Titles, a WFDF Title and a World Disc Title to separate them from the pack. Matt and Jake Gauthier's back to back FPA Pairs Titles in 2006, 2007 proved they were no fluke and Jam Masters Tom Leitner and Dave Schiller teamed up for two FPA Pairs titles as well as a WFDF Pairs Title.

Top Pairs Routine - 2000s
Tom Leitner & Dave Schiller (USA)
FPAW05 Seattle WA USA

At 2005 FPA Worlds Seattle, this routine was like two titans at the top of their game playing with passion and conviction. Their dropless routine was the thing of legend.

There were other highly qualified routines that barely missed out for the top routine of the 2000s. Arthur Coddington/Dave Lewis 2003 FPA Worlds. They were highly-tuned veteran champions who used their immense feel and finely tuned instincts to battle the swirling winds to perfection. Matt and Jake Gauthier 2006 FPA Worlds Berlin. The "G" Bros broke through in a big way playing with confidence to announce their arrival as a force to be reckoned with.

Top Co-op Team - 2000s
Clay Collera (ITA), Reto Zimmerman (SUI) and Joakim Arveskär (SWE)

While no other team dominated the decade, one team's victory stood out as the most significant. The team of Collera /Zimmerman/Arveskär took the title at the 2008 FPA Worlds in Bologna right off the heels of the win by Fabio Sanna, Antonio Cusma and Andrea Meola at the 2007 FPA Worlds in Zandvoort. The win by Collera/Zimmerman/Arveskär had two impacts. 1) It brought recognition to each of these three individuals who have stood like pillars of foundation for Freestyle in Europe for several decades. And 2) It opened the door for the next generation of young Euro Shredders ready to take the sport to new directions.

Top Co-op routine - 2000s
Clay Collera (ITA), Reto Zimmerman (SUI) and Joakim Arveskär (SWE)
FPAW08 Bologna ITA

One aspect of the new Euro wave of jammers was the celebration of the old time Euro jammers. But the team of Collera/Zimmerman/Arveskär was far from a ceremonial teaming. These guys put together some finely-crafted complex routines and executed them to near perfection. Their victory at the 2008 FPA Worlds was a stunning victory over a deep field. It was one of the most emotional wins ever as it was the first world title for each player. The three guys who helped lay down the foundation for the future of the sport drew some well-deserved attention to not only their abilities but their generous spirit as well.

Top Womens Team - 2000s
Lisa Hunrichs & Cindy St Mary (USA)

The top Womens team of the decade is without question Lisa Hunrichs and Cindy (Kruger) St Mary. They won the FPA women's pairs title 4 times, including 3 in a row from 2003-2005.
Lisa Hunrichs - Cindy Kruger Co-op

Top Women's Routine - 2000s
Lisa Hunrichs and Cindy Kruger (USA)
FPAW08 Bologna ITA

After a series of good routines that fell short of their bigh standards, Lisa and Cindy finally came through with a crushing performance at the FPA Worlds in Bologna. 2005 FPA Worlds in Seattle in may what have been their greatest performance, Lisa and Cindy crushed their routine and the rest of the field winning by an unheard of margin of 16 points over the 2nd place team.

Top Mixed Team - 2000's
Eleonora Imazio and Fabio Sanna (ITA)

The young Italian team from Trieste of Fabio Sanna and Eleonora Imazio, exploded on the scene winning the 2006 FPA World Mixed title in Berlin. It signaled a new beginning as the Europeans would go on to dominate this tournament and stake a claim as the 'new guard' for the next generation of players. Fabio and Ele would continue to play at a high level.

Top Mixed Routine - 2000s
Amy and Dave Schiller (USA)

At the 2005 FPA World's in Seattle, the veteran team of Dave and Amy Schiller showed everyone how it's done as they took the Mixed title, their only drop coming with 5 seconds left in the routine.

Most Influential Player - 2000s
Larry Imperiale (USA)

Larry Imperiale is one of the most important freestylers of all time. His experience goes back in time to some of the beginnings of the modern game. After being mentored by some of the old crust masters he took it upon himself to mentor the next generation and the next generation after that. He was one of the few Americans who could become a fixture in Europe, rarely missing an opportunity to play in a big tournament over there. You can see his influence in how many new young players try to emulate the master with their brushing, kicking and roll games.
Larry Imperiale

Most Innovative Player - 2000s
Paul Kenny (USA)

There is little doubt that PK's game is distinctive and unique. Not only is he the master of the turnover he has innovated numerous new moves and variations as well. The young Euros are quickly adding his moves to their expanding repertoires.

Top Beach / Wind Player - 2000s
Carlos "Pipo" Lopez (PRI)

When the breeze stiffens and players head for cover, Pipo takes it up a notch. Years of playing on his native Puerto Rico beaches have honed his skills to a fine edge.
Honorable mention for exceptional wind players go to Tom Leitner, Larry Imperiale, Paul Kenny and Sarah Bergman.

Top Athlete Mens - 2000s
Matt Gauthier (USA)

Note Matt's aggressive approach to play, especially when he's a bit late on a catch or move. He has cat-like quickness, excellent instincts and a cool calm no matter what the situation is. All reflecting his experience as a former Soccer Goalie. I'm fairly certain he feels as though he made the right choice by changing round balls for flat ones.

Top Athlete Womens - 2000s
Bianca Strunz (GER)

Bianca looks like she would be at home on a football pitch, a basketball court or in a triathlon. She moves like a cat and has an aggressive approach to the game reminiscent of Seattle's Brenda Savage.
Bianca Strunz

Top Form Mens - 2000s
Pat Marron (USA)

Pat Marron has almost perfect form. He has as high a level of difficulty in his game as anyone but makes it all look effortless in his pursuit of the perfect shred. Watching Pat's long lines and incredible timing and balance is like watching a clinic on how to be the perfect freestyler.

Top Form Womens - 2000s
Eleonora Imazio (ITA)

Ele's elegant form and sense of the dramatic makes for some of the most interesting freestyle play in the game today. She is always in great form, always balanced and always poised as she goes through her individual moves and co-ops.

Top International Mens Player - 2000s
Fabio Sanna (ITA)

All the previous beliefs about developing a top player went flying out the window when Fabio Sanna decided he wanted to be an elite player. In a span of only 2 years he was performing at the highest level of the game. As the years have progressed he is staking a claim to be added to a short list of all-time greats. He has technical ability and innovation far beyond his years. Add perfect form, tremendous balance and a flair for the dramatic and you have the new prototype shred master.

Top International Womens Player - 2000s
Eleonora Imazio (ITA)

Ele Imazio didn't so much emerge on the freestyle rankings and results, she exploded! She quickly set new standards of play with her elegant style and thoughtful presentation. World Titles in Mixed with partner Fabio Sanna in 2006 at the FPA Worlds and in Womens in 2007 with partner Silvia Caruso were two significant highlights for her. But the biggest accomplishment is finishing as the #1 ranked Women's Freestyler in the World for the last three years.

Top Individual Performance - 2000s
Dave Schiller (USA)

FPAW05 Seattle USA

Open Finals - dropless. 1st Place.

Co-op Finals - dropless. 1st Place.

Mixed Finals - dropless. 1st Place.

Three World Titles in one afternoon with three dropless performances made this the greatest freestyle performance of all time. This record can never be exceeded, only tied.

Jambassador Award - 2000s
Steve "The Beast" Hays (USA)

It is impossible to imagine what the sport of Freestyle would be without the indomitable spirit of Steve Hayes. He has traveled extensively touching as many people as he can with his graciousness, patience and loving spirit. There is not a single freestyler anywhere that has not benefited in some way from him.

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