This weekend, the Claremont Braineaters are hosting an ultimate frisbee tournament with teams from across the country. Its entry form, filled with unique names like the Braineaters, makes the bracket look much like the quest list at an anime convention. Tired of frosty fingers, 12 collegiate ultimate teams will travel to Southern California to toss some discs. Unfortunately, spectators will have to leave their dorm rooms to see the contest, as the games will be played in Riverside due to field limitations.
The tournament, called DIII Warmup, promises to preview the high-skill, higher intensity play seen at the National Championships. Three of the top four Division III teams as ranked in Skyd Magazine—St. John’s University’s Bad Ass Monks, Carleton College’s Gods of Plastic, and University of Puget Sound’s Postmen—will be battling along the riverside. The 5C men’s team, which brought home the national title in 2011, is no stranger to the big, grassy stage. The team hopes to rise through the rankings with raw talent from the first-year class and a deep core of veterans. One of the team captains, Daniel Geller PO ‘13, likes the team’s chances.
“This tournament will be the first time this season we’ll be at our full strength. The Brains will be a solid match for any team in the division,” he said.
Unlike Meatless Mondays, the stakes in Riverside are real. Similar to track meets or feeding frenzies, ultimate frisbee is generally played in large gatherings rather than in isolated, single games. In order to rank teams and even give championship bids, ultimate’s governing body sanctions tournaments such as DIII Warmup. In this weekend’s games, the team will be striving for more than the usual glory of an ultimate frisbee match.
As in many 5C sports, the ultimate team falls within the Division III category. In college ultimate, there are only Division I and Division III teams. Because schools rarely recruit or pump funds into ultimate frisbee, the best small-school teams can often compete with powerhouse state universities. A Division III-sized school has won Nationals two of the last four years. Tournament organizers Zack Purdy HM ’13 and Sam Schumer PO ’15 say they are creating the event partially to get teams excited about Division III ultimate frisbee. With ultimate magazines already covering the Division I season, this tournament will be a large step in publicizing the Division III college scene.
In addition to bringing coverage to teams from smaller schools, DIII Warmup also offers a few unique opportunities. The tournament will include a clinic to become an “observer,” ultimate’s scaled-down version of a referee. The organizers are also trying to show the analytic side of ultimate. In an attempt to get unprecedented detail, team president Purdy hopes to record touch-by-touch statistics in all of the games. No ultimate tournament in college or the larger club league has ever had such specific statistics.
“If hindsight is twenty-twenty, then stats are X-ray vision,” Purdy said. “But to pull it off, especially with the Greens [the 5C women’s ultimate team] gone, we’ll need volunteers.”
If you’re on the hunt for a sunny spot, are interested in learning about lift, or want to make history, come to Riverside this weekend. Our consortium may be breaking ground, this time on an unusually green field.