Claremont Colleges Ultimate Frisbee Team Wins Division III National Championship

The Claremont Braineaters, the 5C Men’s Ultimate Frisbee team, won the DIII Ultimate Frisbee National Championship.

After an outstanding season with only one loss, the Brains made it to the championship tournament held in Buffalo, N.Y. last weekend. The team, lead by Zack Purdy (HMC), consists of 29 players from CMC, Pomona, Harvey Mudd and Pitzer.

The Claremont Braineaters trace their origins to founder and Pitzer alumnus Jeff Landeson, who started the team in 1979. According to their website, the team’s unusual name comes from a low-budget movie of the same name that was on TV the night the team was formed. “Ironically the whole team missed the movie [that night], and to this day no member of the Braineaters has ever seen it. At this point, I guess it’s sort of forbidden,” said team member Brett Spencer ’11.

In Buffalo, after besting every team they encountered in the first five games of the tournament, Claremont began the final game against St. John’s University with their trademark zombie-esque cheer. Out the gate, St. John’s took an early lead.

“We went down by four points early in the match, and some of their players even started dancing on the sidelines. They were so sure they had us,” Spencer said. But 2011 was the first year in the team’s three-decade history that the Brains have made it to the championships, and they were determined to win.

After some outstanding plays, Claremont took a significant lead late in the second half. The play of the game, according to teammates, was a diving catch by Tommy Li (POM)apparently despite cramps in both of Li’s legs. In the last play of the season, Devin Drewry (POM) caught Markham Shofner’s (POM) game-winning throw, beating St. John’s 11 to 9 and crowning the Braineaters national champions.

According to players, dreams of the championship have been brewing for quite some time. “This is the first time we’ve made it to nationals. We’ve been talking about going since [before my] freshman year.” said Spencer. Jeffrey Park ’11, a longtime Braineater, attributes the team’s success this year to renewed team spirit.

“The nature of the Braineaters was always a team of fun-loving, trouble-making kids. This season we worked hard to return to our roots, and it paid dividends,” said Park. President of the club team, Purdy, agreed, “When your best friends are playing with you on the field, and watching you from the sidelines, you are pretty motivated to play your hardest.”

Although the team graduated ten seniors this year, including seven starters, players are hopeful for next season. Purdy thinks recruitment of talented underclassmen will continue to be successful, stating, “There is even a rumor floating around that a Junior Worlds player (team consisting of the top high school players in the country) will be attending Pitzer.”

Park, who will be watching from the sidelines as a graduate next year, is confident: “The team is in good hands. It’ll be fun to see where they go.”

On a related note, the 5C Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team, the Green Shirts, placed 3rd in the women’s national DIII tournament.

For more coverage of the tournament, read the recap from USA Ultimate here.

A video of the final game is available on YouTube here.

Sean McQueen ’13