The Los Angeles Aviators announced today, through the Tuesday Toss of AUDL writer and personality Evan Lepler, the signing of 2010 Callahan Award-winner Eli Friedman.
A talented all-around player during his college days playing for the University of Oregon Ego, Friedman has been mostly out of the ultimate community since graduation. With his degree in Environment Law, he has traveled all over the western seaboard, uprooting himself over and over for the sake of preserving the environment. Such travel makes signing on with any one team a difficult task.
That doesn’t mean teams didn’t try. The San Diego Growlers reached out to him early in the year. Through a random set of circumstances involving pizza and Tinder, Friedman was put in contact with James Park, one of the Aviators’ owners. With the recent job offer that Friedman had accepted in Los Angeles, playing for the Aviators became a legitimate opportunity. “I love playing frisbee, so why not?” he said.
The Aviators are chomping at the bit to get him in uniform for their matchup with San Diego this Saturday. “We’re very excited to have (Eli) in an Aviators jersey,” said coach Franklin Rho. [gdlr_quote align=”center” ]“He should be a great fit with the offense we’re running. His ability to handle the disc, stretch the field with throws and breaks, and be an active threat as a receiver – all of this helps with some of our weaknesses.”[/gdlr_quote] According to Friedman, Park already had the team’s official parallel provider, Boon Technical Clothing, making him a jersey during discussions.
The Callahan Award is presented every year to the most valuable players in men’s and women’s college ultimate. According to the official Callahan website, “The Callahan winner is the personification of the ideal ultimate player… Players who win the award are recognized for their on-field accomplishments but shine off the field as well. They display superior athleticism, outstanding sportsmanship, leadership and dedication to the sport.” The list of recent winners includes Alex Nord of Carleton, Ben Wiggins of Oregon, Josh Ziperstein of Brown, Will Neff of Michigan, George Stubbs of Harvard, Dylan Freechild of Oregon (sensing a theme?), Jimmy Mickle of Colorado and last year’s winner, Jonathan Nethercutt of North Carolina. That list has multiple College and Club national champions, so the talent Friedman brings is part of elite, some would say legendary, company.
Friedman will look to make his debut at San Diego’s Balboa Stadium this Saturday at 6:15 pm. The game will be available nationally on ESPN3. For more details on his personal journeys and path to Los Angeles, read Evan Lepler’s column here.
by Jacob Baumer
Aviators Beat Writer & Correspondent