2017 marks Castine and Cranston’s second season with the Breeze. As Breeze rookies, they brought in a combined 16 blocks in the 16 games they played in throughout the season. Both players were integral to the defensive line, but both of their seasons were cut short by injury.
Cranston, a cutter from Xavier University, and Castine, a handler from Western Washington, shore up the Breeze’s defensive front in critical areas. Their 2016 injuries hopefully behind them, Castine and Cranston are primed for more playing time this season.
A son of Seattle, Castine previously played with elite men’s club team Seattle Sockeye, bagging the 2007 Club National Championship in his first season.
“I’m grateful to have another opportunity to be a part of the growing DC Ultimate community,” Castine said. “The Breeze have a good presence in both the elite Ultimate and youth Ultimate scenes and I’m excited to help continue that. After last season, I wasn’t sure what my future would hold as a player. I’m thankful to say it looks like I have another opportunity to grow as both a leader and a player on the DC Breeze.”
“I’m excited to be a part of the Breeze again and look forward to continuing to build the DC Frisbee community,” added Cranston.
For his part, Neeley played in 15 of the 16 games for the Breeze last season, and completed an all-team high of 389 passes. As one of the primary handlers on the offensive line, Neeley caught nine goals and threw 17 assists.
“At the end of the day, I want to play Ultimate at the highest level there is,” the University of Virginia graduate said. “The Breeze showed a lot of DC’s players a new way to do that last season, and being a part of it was really rewarding. One of my biggest reasons for playing again is that the margins in 2017 are going to be even thinner than they were last year. The [AUDL] East Division is going to be really strong, as is the whole league, and I’m excited to sign up for something so demanding.”
This will be Neeley’s third season with the Breeze, but he barely saw action with the team in 2014 due to an injury at the end of the preseason that kept him out of all but one game.
Castine, Cranston, and Neeley’s contract announcement comes on the heels of exciting news from the club Ultimate world: all three men will also serve as captains of DC Truck Stop for the 2017 season. All but two players announced to the 2017 roster so far are members of Truck Stop, which placed fifth at Club Nationals this past season.
We voted Cranston, Neeley, and Nate Castine as captains.
Hug someone you love. It's gonna be a long year.
— Truck Stop Ultimate (@TruckStopUlti) January 15, 2017
The execution of these three contracts brings the Breeze 2017 roster to a total of 14 players. Six more players are expected to ink before the open tryouts in March. The anticipated early season roster is 32 players.