This article and the 2014 College Tour are presented by Spin Ultimate.
In wintery, unsuspecting Brunswick, Maine, a charming town that has its own slot-car racing joint, Chaos brews. And despite the polar vortex this year, they intend to bring the fuego.
Riding off their championship win last year at the D-III College Championships, Bowdoin College’s Chaos Theory checks in about the who, why and how of their reigning championship team.
Co-captains Clare Stansberry and Mik Cooper say that this year’s Chaos squad brings a different kind of fire than last year’s team. This is mainly due to the inherent four to five year cycle of turnover of all college sports, and ultimate is no different. Cooper says of this year, “With seniors graduating and players going abroad, we lost speed and key handlers.” If you followed last years series, its easy to see the impact of the loss of players Phoebe Aron, Julie Bender and Hannah Young, who alone scored six out of fifteen points in the 2013 championship game. “In terms of skills, those players were amazing athletes and role models for all of us,” says Stansberry.
“This year, we’re focusing on the growth of the team and how we can become better players over how we can win,” says Stansberry. “I still always think back to our last year’s motto of ‘anything can happen’ as my inspiration for our season.” After all, Cooper says that winning nationals wasn’t even on the team’s radar last year. For the 2013-14 season, Chaos Theory gained nearly thirty new players, bringing their roster up to approximately fifty. While Bowdoin doesn’t cut any interested people from the program, this year they have selected an elite travel team of about eighteen players to play at sanctioned tournaments.
The captains say that the makeup of their travel team–and their team as a whole–is quite varied. Very few of the team members had played ultimate before starting at Bowdoin, with the notable exception of sophomore Ana “Calamity” Leon, who played for the Atlanta high school powerhouse Paideia. Otherwise, Cooper says that many ladies on the team “toyed with the idea of playing varsity sports at Bowdoin” and some even joined them, quit, and ended up playing ultimate. Cooper points out that having athletes with previous experience playing soccer, basketball and volleyball offers a really good starting place to develop an effective field sense as well as to maintain endurance, speed and strength. For many members of Chaos Theory, ultimate is the first sport they have ever participated in, and self-proclaimed “Glorified Team Moms” (the captains) have welcomed them with open arms. Whatever their background in sports, Cooper writes that everyone on Chaos “wanted to stay athletic and become a part of a team.”
Striking a balance between leading a championship team and teaching dozens of brand new players can be a tricky tightrope walk, but Bowdoin’s captains say that this is achieved through the powerful energy that their 50+ squad brings to the field. It may not be last year’s consistently deep huck game that previous Chaos members specialized in, but it’s tighter, and it’s their own. “Embracing the new style of play and to use the new talent of our players is a challenge for all teams,” Stansberry says. “What I want to see most is our team continue to bring the fire and drive to improve as players that we saw all fall.” This fall, Bowdoin faced college and club teams alike at their local tournament Clambake, but have spent much of the season developing new players and improving the skills of their veterans.
What’s next for Bowdoin? They are looking forward to potentially wreaking chaos at “Bring the Huckus,” to facing Williams again (last year’s runner-up), as well as seeing how the rest of the region plays out. As Cooper says, “it’s a new day, a new year, a new season, and like we told ourselves last year – anything can happen.”