Bates has 29 varsity sports programs (14 men’s, 15 women’s) that are well broadcasted by the Athletics Department and impressively supported by students, families, and community members. While the tremendous accomplishments of these varsity-level programs are exciting and not to be overlooked, Bates’ club sports also deserve some attention. One such club sport is the women’s ultimate frisbee team, otherwise known as Cold Front.
While many varsity sports, such as track and field and lacrosse, have attended Division III NCAA competitions, Cold Front has also performed on the national stage, representing Bates at the Ultimate national championships for the past two years.
“My freshman year on the frisbee team there were no tournaments because we did not have the organization or the enthusiasm that is necessary for a victorious sports team,” senior captain Katie Hartnett ‘18 says. “Watching the frisbee team go from having zero tournaments to qualifying for nationals was just an incredible feeling.”
“Everything that we get, from practice space to money for games, we have to fight for,” Josie Gillett ‘19, third-year captain, adds. “Stepping on an airplane to go to nationals with 20 dedicated women was extremely satisfying because it showed that we can use each other as resources for success.”
Unlike a varsity sport, a club sport has no cuts and is inclusive to all, regardless of athletic ability. Given the nationally renowned status of the team, Hartnett and Gillett have not had any trouble recruiting women to play and are really excited by, and impressed with, the enthusiasm of all the players. This year, roughly 35-40 people come to mostly every practice.
“One thing that I love about frisbee is that not many people play before college,” Gillett says. “If you look at our team widely, 90% of the women just started playing at Bates. This makes it optimal for new players. It is very easy to do and pick up which is awesome.”
As captains of Cold Front, Hartnett and Gillett always strive to balance the more laid back atmosphere of a club sport with the intense competitiveness that naturally follows any active sports team.
“There are schools where ultimate frisbee is considered a varsity sport. Other schools acknowledge it as similar to a varsity sport. We are not one of those schools,” Hartnett explains. “It can be tricky balancing the people in the group who really want to commit to coming to every practice and work really hard with the people who just want to come once a week and play and hang out.”
The beauty of a club sport like ultimate frisbee is the spectrum of ability that ranges from varsity athletes to noncompetitive students who just play the sport for fun. In order to attend to both types of players, the season is therefore divided into two parts: the first half, beginning in the fall, focusing on getting to know the team dynamic and teaching everybody how to play, and the second half, which starts by the spring, geared toward structured practices and consistent competitions. In the spring “A” and “B” teams are selected to compete in tournaments and work toward qualifying for the national championships. All the tournaments during this half of the season are sanctioned and count toward their sectional, regional, and national ranking.
“In the fall we try and have practice every day as much as possible. At these practices we teach different skills, work on different aspects of the game, and have a lot of fun. Regardless of skill level, everybody has room to grow so we can all work on basic skills together in the fall. We also have chiller tournaments with other schools to meet new teams, play, and have a good time,” Hartnett says.
Even though there are no home games for the women’s ultimate frisbee team, be sure to follow their season and possibly even join. You never know, even if you have never picked up a frisbee in your life, under the leadership of Hartnett and Gillett, along with being surrounded by a warm, welcoming, and enthusiastic group of girls, you might just find yourself on a plane traveling to compete a sport at a national level.