The Braineaters: more than just an ultimate team

The 5C Men’s Ultimate Frisbee Team poses for a photo on April 1 2023 after competing at the Southwest Showdown at UCLA (Courtesy: Logan Stouse)

Frisbee, friends and fun — whatever you want, however you want it, the 5C men’s ultimate frisbee team has it for you.

With a heavy emphasis on sportsmanship, teamwork and communication, the Claremont Braineaters prioritize the spirit of the game while carrying on founder Jeff Landesman’s PZ ’83 legacy.

Landesman grew up in New York City and didn’t pick up the game of ultimate until he was a junior in high school. However, before then he had a different sport. Landesman said he was originally drawn to Pitzer College by a conversation he had during recruitment with the Pomona-Pitzer (P-P) men’s soccer coach who described the campus as a drive away from the beach or mountains. However, upon arriving in Claremont, Landesman said he quickly realized he no longer wanted to pursue soccer and instead went on to found the Pitzer College Braineaters, the men’s club ultimate frisbee team.

“I came out to Pitzer to play for the Sagehen’s men’s soccer team, but I had gotten so hooked on ultimate during my last two years of high school that when I got to Pitzer I really had no desire to play soccer anymore, and I decided to start an ultimate team,” Landesman said.

Along with the help of a few friends, Landesman began organizing a team and eventually settled on the name “Braineaters,” inspired by the 1950s movie “The Brain Eaters.”

“We had been dabbling with names like ‘Pitzer Ultimate Frisbee’ but we really didn’t have any good names. One night three of my friends and I were up late and we were going to watch ‘The Brain Eaters.’ At about 6 o’clock [in the morning] we were sitting on top of the geodesic dome at Pitzer and we realized we had missed the movie,” Landesman said. “All four of us kind of looked at each other at once and said, ‘that’s it, we’re the Braineaters.’”

Since its founding, the Braineaters have experienced a lot of success. They won the Division III Ultimate Frisbee National Championships in 2011 and have made multiple appearances at Nationals in recent years. The team, which was originally composed entirely of Pitzer students, has also expanded to include members from across the 5Cs.

The team practices three times a week and competes in approximately 10 tournaments over the course of the year. Current Braineaters team member Logan Stouse PO ’23 said that the fall season focuses on growing and developing the team and its new players while the spring season focuses on training for sectionals and Nationals.

“We spend a lot of time in the fall teaching new people how to play and welcoming new people in,” Stouse said. “By the time spring comes around we typically develop more of a competitive season with a little bit of a tighter roster while still doing our best to integrate people who have put in the time commitment.”

While the team has evolved to become more competitive than it originally was, the Braineaters are still focused on carrying out Landesman’s original mission of fostering lifelong friendships and a community of inclusivity and competitiveness.

Stouse spoke on the culture of the team, acknowledging that while the Braineaters want to win and make it to Nationals, they are more focused on integrating new players and having fun.

“It’s a super welcoming environment and we do our best to try to integrate a lot of new players who haven’t played before,” Stouse said. “We tend to be a pretty fun group and we try not to take ourselves too seriously and with an intent to include new players, we have to balance how intense we get with how welcoming we are. Both the welcoming and competitive side involve a lot of casual fun because at the end of the day we’re really all there to play frisbee and have fun.”

Reflecting on his legacy, Landesman said that he is thrilled to see current Braineaters members continuing to carry on his original mission.

“It’s really exciting for me to see that [the team] hasn’t changed the name over the years, but more importantly, they haven’t changed what the team is about, which is spirit first,” Landesman said. “It was always really important that the team focused on having fun and never taking themselves too seriously.”

Current Braineaters member Adidev Jhunjhunwala CM ’25 reiterated Landesman’s sentiment. He said that the culture of the Braineaters is unlike any other team he has been a part of.

“It’s a really nice, inclusive team and is incredibly non-toxic which is different from most teams I’ve been on … It’s just a really fun team to be around and if you ever see a tournament you will always see teammates chanting funny cheers and carrying on a bunch of silly traditions,” Jhunjhunwala said.

Isaiah Curtis PZ ’26 said he has had a similar experience. As a new member who joined the Braineaters in the fall, he said he found a new community within the team.

“It’s a vibes thing. The culture definitely is a really big draw,” Curtis said. “I convinced a lot of my friends who had never played before to come and they mostly stuck around because they liked the team and not really because they were into frisbee … There is a big emphasis on communication and building a community that is more than just a sports team.”

Landesman and his fellow Braineaters alumni will return to campus to participate in a friendly alumni vs. students Braineaters game on April 29 at 1 p.m.

“We’ve missed out on a lot of alumni games when the Braineaters began making it to the [DIII] Nationals, so the fact that they wanted to do it again was spectacular,” Landesman said. “It’s thrilling for me to be back at the Claremont Colleges playing ultimate because it’s been such a huge part of my life for a long time. Brains for life!”

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