Claremont Greenshirts Never Wear Green Shirts

The women on the Greenshirts, the 5C Women's Ultimate Frisbee team, are an intriguing group. Tossing around personal stories, jokes and Frisbee terms like "handler," "pick," "endzone" and "turnover," women from Scripps, Pomona, Pitzer, Harvey Mudd, and CGU are all brought together by their love for this unique sport. They even have nicknames, based on their moves out on the field, or some other personal memories created with the team.

All team members agree that Ultimate Frisbee is a sport unto its own. McKenzie Floyd ('12) stated, "there is so much more to Ultimate than winning." Erica Baken (PO '12), who played on the USA national team last year, agreed. "Ultimate is about having fun." Sarah Herman (PO '11) added, "It's about being positive on the field."

Akiko Onuma ('09), a four-year member of the team, explained the rules of the game. There are seven people per team playing at any given time, and teams play to 13 or 15 points to win. The game is like a cross between American football and basketball, but instead played with a disk. The goal is to get to the end zone at the end of the 100-yard field, and a player cannot move when she has the disk in her possession.

Still, says Akiko, the sport is a little different. She said, "The most distinguishing aspect about Ultimate Frisbee is that the game is completely self-officiated. If a player commits a foul, play stops and the two teams decide themselves what to do about it."

Natalie Butterfield ('12) explained further: "When a foul is committed or a timeout is called and play on the field is stopped, people on the sidelines will immediately run to the middle of the field and play a pickup game or any other fun bonding game with the other team's members." The others also chimed in, reaffirming that Ultimate is a sport for friendship and community-building.

This is not to say that Ultimate Frisbee is a game without rules. The Ultimate Players' Association releases an annual, and players usually register as part of the UPA every year. Rules are strict, and players adhere to them.

There is always room for fun. According to some of the players, men traditionally wore skirts when playing Ultimate, and today it is often fun to dress up in costume and play. At a recent tournament in Central Texas, the Greenshirts actually won a dance-off against 24 other teams.

The Greenshirts themselves are a tradition. When Ultimate first began, teams were prohibited from wearing anything green because it would blend in with the field. In a play on the name, the 5C Ultimate Frisbee team decided to call itself the Greenshirts, but never wear green shirts while playing.

Ranked fourth in their region, the Greenshirts, who have competed at a tournament almost every weekend this semester, are on their way to the regional tournament soon, hoping to place within the top four, landing them a spot at nationals. This is a result of extensive training starting at the beginning of the academic year.

One of the captains, Brianna Balke (PO '10) explained, "We start new every year. We recruit people from all skill and experience levels, and we teach everyone the rules of the game again."

According to all members of the team, previous experience with Ultimate is not a prerequisite to joining the team. Interested team members simply have to want to be a part of the team to play. I have never been able to properly throw a Frisbee, and Akiko immediately volunteered to teach me how to throw a disk. Even if I do not learn before next year, I could still join the team and learn how to throw a disk then.

So next year, if you are looking for something fun and active to get involved in, look up the Greenshirts. New members are always welcome, and you'll be guaranteed a fun time!