At the USA Ultimate East New England Sectional Tournament last weekend, the men's ultimate Frisbee team, Stoned Clown, intentionally sacrificed prospective wins in order to let first year players get a chance to learn the ropes in a real game setting.
The team's strategic decision to develop its new talent instead of going for wins indicates that the team is investing in its future.
With games on nine different Bowdoin fields last weekend, Stoned Clown treated the tournament much differently than in previous years. Captain Adam Mortimer '12 explained that the rationale behind the new approach to this tournament was to prevent first years from getting demoralized.
"Usually we still have three teams, and we put our best players as the A-side, the next level on the B-side, and the freshmen on the C-side," Mortimer said. "Usually the freshmen get crushed—every game is a demoralizer. We decided to go with a new route this year, and split up the teams as evenly as possible, and just kind of see where it went."
The sectional tournament, which serves as a qualifier for the regional tournament that will take place over Fall Break, is a part of the sport's club series and has no D-III collegiate affiliation.
"Last year [the team] finished fifth in the region," said captain Dylan Kane '12. "This year we're hoping to do much better."
Unlike most sports teams on campus, Stoned Clown is student-led, without any official coaches.
"There are four captains, and we do everything," Kane said. "We find tournaments to go to, we organize transportation, pay tournament fees, run practice, sub and run strategies during the game, play, and have fun."
With four captains—two seniors and two juniors—the team passes the legacy of one year on to the next. New captains have to step up annually to ensure that the team doesn't lose steam with the departure of graduating seniors.
The tournament this weekend is part of the legacy that Mortimer and Kane will pass on to the next cohort of ultimate players.
"The basis is that [the freshmen] weren't crushed in every game, but they also were able to see a higher level of ultimate being played," said Mortimer. "They were catching scores and making plays just as much as the seniors."
"We were looking to get out of this tournament experience for the younger players, and we got that," he continued. "We may have lost success at the tournament, but that wasn't our main goal."
Ultimate Frisbee remains a sport still in its infancy, without a large fan base, professional teams, or publicity.
The ultimate community compensates for the lack of structure in the sport by handling calls without referees, strictly using volunteers, and playing in large tournaments rather than individual games to reduce traveling costs.
The ultimate team also has a social side to accommodate its athletic side. In this sense, it differs from other new sports of past years, like lacrosse.
"It's at a very different place than lacrosse was when [it] had a similar number of players," Kane said. "Lacrosse was very competitive from the start."
"Ultimate has a lot of tournaments that are just for fun," he added. "It's a very socially-based sport, which kind of reflects what our team is like here at Bowdoin."
The sport is definitely on the rise, with both Kane and Mortimer reporting that each year more incoming athletes play on teams before coming to Bowdoin.