Ultimate frisbee teams everywhere, beware: Stoned Clown is running this circus.
At last weekend’s North New England DIII College Men’s Conference Championship in Middlebury, Vt., the men’s ultimate frisbee team (14–1)—better known as Stoned Clown—dominated rivals Bates College, Colby College and Middlebury College to land a spot at the regional tournament in Smithfield, R.I., next weekend.
With captains Sawyer “Bumbo Dillworth” Gouldman ’23 and Ian “Kojak” Zogg ’23 at the helm, the team has earned a historic 14–1 record and is ranked as the sixth DIII team in the nation. The team’s recent win against Middlebury, which is currently ranked as the fourth DIII team in the country, was a major victory for Stoned Clown and will likely propel the team in the standings.
Though the pandemic’s residual effects have produced a particularly young (and often inexperienced) A-side roster, both Zogg and Gouldman have been impressed by newer members’ ability to rise to the occasion.
“One of the things about our team that’s been really great this season is the depth of players we have,” Gouldman said. “We have a lot of players who are really strong and [who] we can depend on.”
Stoned Clown’s roster is formidable not only in terms of skill, but also in terms of spirit. From shouting original chants at their opponents through a megaphone (dubbed the “hecklephone”) to performing a group dance at the beginning of each game, maintaining morale is one of the team’s greatest strengths. Mason “Tonka” Winter ’23, a defensive line handler, feels that the team owes much of its success to the culture of joy and kinship that permeates everything they do.
“We have a lot of silly energy on the sideline, which is something that I think tends to be unique in some ways to frisbee compared to other sports that I’ve watched or played,” Winter said. “I think that camaraderie is really helpful for us.”
The positive team environment is something that members have been persistently intentional about cultivating. Tom “Globo Gym Purple Cobra” Hornbeck ’22, a member of Stoned Clown since 2018, noted a remarkable evolution in team culture over the past several years.
“There’s definitely a lot of cultural changes that we’ve had with the team [that] I think have been for the better,” Hornbeck said. “I think the team, early on, was a bit more bro-y…. We’ve kind of tried to get away from that.”
From technique to team dynamics, Stoned Clown is constantly striving to improve. With regionals rapidly approaching, the team is sharpening its gameplay and anticipating its opponents’ next moves. For Winter, this means poring over footage of opponents’ gameplay—a strategy that was instrumental to the team’s victory over Middlebury.
“I’ve actually already started watching the film on one of the teams that we’ll probably play at regionals in an important game,” Winter said.
Zogg said the team is also focusing on reflecting inward.
“A sentiment that we’ve reinforced throughout the season is [that] it doesn’t really matter who we’re playing—we just need to play to our own strengths,” Zogg said. “Thinking about how we can best play against [competitors] will be really important, but I think mainly, it’s just making sure everyone’s in the right headspace.”
Though Stoned Clown has high hopes for another string of victories at regionals, especially with their candidacy for nationals hanging in the balance, there is an overwhelming sense that no outcome could snuff the team’s devotion to the game and to one another. For Zogg, lasting bonds forged are the ultimate—no pun intended—reward.
“My favorite part of playing frisbee is that I’m playing a sport with my closest friends in this world,” Zogg said. “We all care about each other a lot, and I think that can manifest itself while we’re playing.”