Women’s ultimate frisbee looks ahead to nationals, nicknames, new faces

A female student stretches out her arms to catch a frisbee flying through the air.
Ellie Dekker PZ ’23 catches a Frisbee during a Claremont Greenshirts’ practice. (HuxleyAnn Huefner • The Student Life)

Amid the sweltering 100-degree heat of the past week, the 5Cs’ women’s Ultimate Frisbee team — better known as the Greenshirts — kicked off the season with its first practice of the year. 

Creating an inclusive, fun environment is at the center of everything the Greenshirts do and the first practice was no exception. 

Much of the responsibility of fostering a welcoming community falls on the shoulders of the team captains such as Anna Wilk SC ’25.

“We had a lot of new freshmen and overall rookies [at the first practice] … A few sophomores and some seniors who had played other sports in the past who decided to show up either because friends invited them or they had heard about it,” Wilk said. “Everyone was really excited to see their friends again after the summer. We played ‘mini’ which is just a miniature version of Frisbee, which helped keep spirits up too, especially in the heat.”

In addition to having a fun season, one of the Greens’ top priorities is making it back to Nationals, which they last qualified for in 2018. Wilk said that creating a more competitive environment is something she and the other captains have been discussing and planning for this season.

“In the past, I think the main focus has been community, and having fun, and encouraging new people to join the sport. This year we’ve tried to create more of a balance. We really want to win Nationals,” Wilk said. “We’ve talked to the team and that’s sort of what everyone’s goal is, so we’re focusing on creating more of a balance between being competitive and still being a super inclusive environment.”

The Greens missed out on Nationals last year after a loss to Occidental College (Oxy), the only team they needed to beat to earn a spot. Sylvie Kromer SC ’25, one of the team’s returners, said that the match against Oxy this season carries a lot of weight.

“The way that the divisions work for Nationals is there’s only two teams in our Division, and it’s us and Oxy,” she said. “Usually it’s just a one-game matchup, and it’s very stressful.” 

Wilk said that this year the league is trying out a new system to defuse the tension that accompanies such a high-stakes, infrequent match.

“The hope this year is to get to scrimmage them a little bit more and create a more friendly rapport with them so that then after one game you can be happy either way and support the team as they move on,” she said.

While the team hopes to have different results in competition this season, there are traditions they know will remain the same. One such tradition is the “rookie challenge.” 

“It either happens at the end of fall or beginning of spring,” Wilk said. “Rookies come up with a bunch of random fun challenges. It’s like our very nice version of hazing.”

These tasks are light-hearted and fun, according to Kromer.

“You could get points if you send a picture of a dog to the chat,” Kromer added. “Or you always have to be carrying your Frisbee with you, and if an upperclassman sees you with[out] your Frisbee, you get docked.”

Another tradition is their signature nickname system. 

“How the nicknames work is that returners choose the nicknames for the rookies, and it kind of depends on how you ‘earn’ your nickname,” said Emily Cady SC ’25, another returner. “They always try to encourage the rookies to do something fun or crazy at practice or a game to ‘earn’ it. But you can also just get it like, for funny reasons.”

Cady’s nickname falls into the latter category.

“My nickname is ‘Peanut,’” she said. “One of the first games, I brought [my tournament buddy] a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. And so the next week, they were like, ‘Emily is now Peanut,’ mostly I think because of the Peanut Butter Cup thing, but I think they said I was ‘sneaky’ like Peanut Butter in the Peanut Butter Cup.”

Ultimately, as long as their fun and inclusive culture remains intact, the Greenshirts will consider their season a success.

“Ultimate is a super fun culture and team, and it’s a really special place on campus,” Cady said. “I hope more rookies come and try it out!”

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