Skip to main content

The Frisbee Toss

Carleton has a number of special traditions! Joey talks about the first one that incoming students get to experience on their first day as a Carl.

Carleton has a number of special traditions! Joey talks about the first one that incoming students get to experience on their first day as a Carl.

Carleton values community building.

The epitome of community building, for me, is New Student Week, which we call NSW. NSW is an orientation period dedicated to introducing new Carls to their peers and to the many institutions that exist to serve our community. I met a bunch of my close friends during NSW just a couple of years ago.

Image of NSW
Enthusiastic Carls dressed as cows welcome a new student! Northfield’s slogan, “Cows, Colleges, and Contentment,” is taken to heart here. Note: photo taken before March 2020.

NSW has lots of helpful and fun programming, ranging from CarlTalks (lectures and discussions on a myriad of subjects relevant to the undergraduate experience) to a talent show. While I could write endlessly about the numerous fun activities, I want to focus on one of the special traditions that happens at the beginning of the week: the frisbee toss.

The frisbee toss is a classic example of how Carleton’s approach to residential living is so special.

The frisbee toss takes place on the first day of NSW — when parents are still present and incoming students have just gotten to know their roommates. Everyone who is there — incoming students, families, college administrators, and returning students who are helping to lead NSW — are standing on the perimeter of the Bald Spot, the center of campus.

Visual of frisbee toss.
Frisbees take to the sky to mark the beginning of NSW! Note: photo taken before March 2020.

Incoming students are each given one frisbee, on which they write their name, group number, and dorm room in permanent marker.

Next, the new students head to the front of the Bald Spot. 

With nothing but clean, autumnal, Minnesotan air between them and a flag set up in the center of the Bald Spot, students prepare to throw their frisbees. Everyone aims for a flag in the center of the Bald Spot.

Stevie P. starts the count down. Three… two… one… throw!

All of a sudden, a gaggle of frisbees fills the blue sky. Some zip into the ground, others fly up and roll in a half circle. The three discs that lay closest to the flag win a prize for their NSW group. In years past, prizes have included a pizza party and a group meal with Stevie P., the president of the College.

When the plastic discs settle, incoming students walk onto the field full of frisbees.

Each new student walks up to an unfamiliar frisbee and keeps it as their own. Their next mission: return the frisbee to the person whose name is written on its bottom before the end of the orientation week.

Example of a NSW disc.
Students write their NSW group number, dorm room, and name on their frisbee before throwing it. This frisbee belongs to my friend Molly — she threw it at NSW two years ago!

The frisbee toss is an excellent way to make friends.

Daniel, (who is now my friend), got my frisbee back to me within just 48 hours of our frisbee toss! He knocked on my door between NSW activities, prompting a lively conversation.

While not everyone is as quick as Daniel, most Carls eventually get their frisbees back. In fact, there are plenty of stories of Carls having their NSW frisbees returned at graduation!

Joey balances his work for the American Studies major with his interests in Educational Studiesclub soccerultimate frisbee, and club cross-country skiing at Carleton. He learned to juggle while growing up in Papillion, Nebraska, and has taught Carleton and middle school students how to juggle through his involvement with the Carleton Juggling F.I.S.H. and a CCCE/TORCH after-school program that teaches juggling and magic at the Northfield Middle School. When not writing satire for the Carleton Salt or dancing with the social dance club, you’ll find Joey playing foosball in Sayles, burrowing into the Libe, or watching Avatar: the Last Airbender in a dorm lounge. Meet the other bloggers!