Last fall, Will Jorgensen ’24 and William Warlick ’24 lived just a few feet away from Whittier Field. Their proximity to the football field introduced them to the passion and support found on any given Bowdoin football gameday.
“We definitely could see how invested so many of these parents were in this 100-man roster,” Jorgensen said. “You get parents traveling from all over and they’re tailgating. They’re into it. It’s DIII football, but they’re into it.”
While Bowdoin only hosts a few home games each year, those games are heavily attended by Brunswick residents and parents of the football players. These experiences stuck with the two seniors, who also happened to notice the lack of Bowdoin students at most of the football games.
“We want to see more people invested in the sport. There was one game where a lot of students went, and it was electric,” Warlick said.
As the year went on, Jorgensen and Warlick were talking to friends and noticed how many of them were involved in fantasy football, a game where participants draft National Football League (NFL) players to their roster and garner points based on the in-game performances of those players.
The two computer science majors thought a similar game focused on the teams in the NESCAC would do well at Bowdoin.
Thus, Fantasy NESCAC was born.
“We’re CS majors, and we wanted to learn more about product development,” Jorgensen said.
However, there was one small problem. Neither of them knew much about fantasy football. As the two developers talked to friends and peers while also doing research of their own, they learned the basics and started their programming of the website at the end of March.
Broadly speaking, Fantasy NESCAC works like any other fantasy football league. Teams draft players from all NESCAC schools with football teams to fill out their rosters. However, there are some aspects in which the website diverges from standard NFL fantasy football rules.
First, leagues can only have eight players, a change that was instituted due to the smaller draft pool. Where the NFL has 32 teams, the NESCAC only has 10, meaning there are fewer players to choose from.
There are also no head-to-head matchups in the way that there are in many other fantasy leagues. Teams accumulate running point totals that will allow them to compare their performance over a number of weeks with that of their friends.
These differences in rules are just based on what made the most sense to Jorgensen and Warlick.
“The only fantasy sport I’ve ever played is Fantasy NASCAR,” Jorgensen said with a laugh. “In that, you just set a roster of drivers and basically, you accumulate points over the weeks.”
After weeks of summer product development, the team’s first Instagram post went up on @fantasynescac, the account the two seniors created for the project, on July 11.
The account garnered hundreds of followers over the summer, and with those followers, an air of mystery grew.
Students from different NESCAC schools followed the account, with various football players commenting on the account in support of their teammates and to contest their own ratings, which many players deemed inaccurate.
Jorgensen and Warlick shrugged off the contention around player ratings, which are created by their website’s algorithm based on statistics, and instead take the criticism as a sign of the broad support the app is garnering.
“We’ve had multiple people reach out about being analysts,” Warlick said.
While the website is largely a two-man operation, the duo has support from their friends, who contribute in various ways to the website. Caleb Adams-Hull ’23 is the communications director, while Sam Angevine ’24 serves as the lead analyst.
With the launch of the website coming soon, the team is tempering their expectations and treating the process as an initial foray into app development.
“We also [want to] see what kind of uptake [the league] gets because it’s entirely possible that we don’t have many users. I generally also view it as just a learning experience,” Jorgensen said. “We wanted to learn how to build a product with login. We have a web server, all sorts of stuff, database management.”
Jorgensen and Warlick expect the website to launch this Sunday.