The Beginning of the Legend
(as told by Jason Zimmerman and Robert Pickett)
GoP was born late one February night in 1995 in a room on 2nd Nourse. A group of seniors – motivated by their love of Frisbee and a desire for a level of play higher than intramurals, but looking for a commitment and attitude softer than those necessary to play for Carleton’s official intercollegiate teams – conspired to form an alternative IC team founded on the concept that enjoyment of the game and a higher level of competitive play should not run screaming from each other, but walk hand-in-hand. They agreed to a style of play that would be considered by some to be undisciplined, but to them would embody the true spirit of the game, and from this discussion arose the lofty team name: Gods of Plastic.
While maintaining a premium on enthusiasm and attitude, the long-on-skills but short-on-stamina seniors wisely recruited a few younger players to give the team a sorely needed athletic boost in long, physical games. The inaugural GoP members were:
John Eaton ‘95
Bil “Baby” Elsinger ‘95
Josh Galster ‘96
Craig “Genius” Graddick ‘95
Chris Gutmann ‘95
Bill Kroeger ‘96
Kirk “Quarters” McEwen ‘98
Tyson Nunemacher ‘95
David “Sparky” Palomino ‘95
Bryn “Traveler” Perkins ‘95 [co-captain]
Robert Pickett ‘95 [co-captain]
Ben Price ‘95
Will Stenzel ‘96
Max Stein ‘95
Ken Troop ‘95
Chris Welcker ‘95 [co-captain]
Winky Winkleman ‘96
Jason “Suede” Zimmerman ‘95
Riding a wave of enthusiasm and unity, and in an attempt to raise some badly needed funds, GoP commissioned and sold their own Frisbees graced with an ethereal figure reaching from the clouds to grab a disc. Team t-shirts worn for tournament play were slightly more intimidating, displaying a fierce Norse god brandishing a large hammer. Thrice-weekly practice rights were acquired for Pigeon Field after the snow melted, and the team slowly shed its winter lethargy. Capitalizing on the Republican flair of their name, the team even dubbed plays after prominent conservatives – calling for such maneuvers as the Quayle, the Gingrich, or the Dole when the proper field position presented itself.
The first real test for the young team was at the Big Ten Tournament in Madison, where a wet weekend turned the Frisbee fields into a sea of mud and water. The team returned winless, but happy with their debut. Sectionals that spring were held at Carleton; GoP had its fair share of supporters in pool play wins over Winona State and CUT’s B-team and losses to CUT and Macalester. In a rousing semi-final game played on Bell Field, the proud GoP team once again matched wits with its alter ego at the time, CUT. Cheering Carleton students lined the hill to root for the Gods, who managed to frustrate the determined CUT players on a series of thumb-hammers before falling to the professional team’s more organized play. Faced with the threat of not advancing to Regionals, GoP rallied in its final game to come from behind and beat St. Olaf for the third qualifying spot.
In reaching the Regional tournament, GoP met its competitive goal for the season. On its return to Madison, the team made its mark in the Carleton Frisbee history books by becoming the first non-CUT/SYZYGY team to win at the Regional level with a late-day victory over Purdue. Off the field, at the tournament party, the team members bravely compensated for a poor turnout by the other teams by redeeming most of the unused refreshment coupons.
GoP’s team philosophy – which placed an emphasis on a pure love of Ultimate, camaraderie, and a positive competitive spirit over the goals of national rankings and tournament wins – carried it successfully through its first season and ensured that the team would flourish for years to come.
The History of the Gods of Plastic (1996-2008)
(as told by Jacob “BJJ” Greenberg”)
Perhaps you have wondered what has happened with the Gods of Plastic (GoP) since its founding. I wager that the founders of GoP would be amazed to see how this team has evolved over the past thirteen years, having transformed from a counter-cultural antithesis to CUT to a regional powerhouse. While perhaps the structure and organization of GoP has changed over time, the basic philosophy remains the same: an emphasis on a pure love of Ultimate, camaraderie, and a positive competitive spirit over the goals of national rankings and tournament wins.
GoP spent the last years of the twentieth century building tradition, and entrenching itself into Carleton Frisbee culture. GoP began to be seen as an alternative to CUT, where those who were interested in competitive intercollegiate Frisbee could get their kicks, while not having to devote as much time and energy. At some point (1998?), GoP switched from the cotton tee’s to Hawaiian shirts, and this has since become the team’s most recognizable trait. The team also built the reputation of being the most devout, dedicated socializers at Carleton, rivaling the much larger Rugby team for festivity supremacy. GoP has not lost a disc race to CUT in well over ten years, and that does not figure to change at any point. Indeed, the statement that “GoP is better than CUT at everything except Frisbee” still holds quite true.
However, as GoP bravely continued into the twenty-first century, some major changes presented themselves. GoP no longer found itself as a complete unknown or obvious underdog at tournaments, but rather as a known and respected opponent for most teams. The Hawaiian-tressed heroes have found themselves in countless storied matchups, and in most cases, have risen victorious. No longer limited to Sectionals play, GoP ventured into the greater nation, participating in tournaments in Baton Rouge, LA (where the beloved Fruit Pooch was stolen by Colorado), Georgia, and Texas. GoP’s legend has transcended the state of Minnesota, and the team’s antics have garnered both positive and negative attention (see: http://groups.google.com/group/rec.sport.disc/browse_thread/thread/b995f8c68b0a3072/b17f49fc5c1e31b3?lnk=gst&q=beware+of+GOP#b17f49fc5c1e31b3)
Numerous individual stars have come from these GoP teams, including Luc Mehl ’00, who would go on to play for nationals qualifying UCSB Black Tide in 2001 (and lose to eventual champion CUT, led by Alex Nord), Alec Hutson ’02 (the first of only two known GoP defectors to CUT, though Hutson did it with the blessings of the captains), Damien Bickett ’03, who is considered by some to be the greatest GoPper to ever wear a Hawaiian, and Seth “Sethmeyer” Meyer ’06, who has won two national championships as a grad student player with the Wisconsin Hodags.
GoP X (2003-2004) represents the most statistically successful team to date. Having overcome some early season drama (the first time CUT actively recruited current GoP players), the team then went on to beat CUT at Exit 69, and never looked back. Led by the handling skills of team MVP Mike Stoner ’04, and a cast of seniors who had played together for nearly four years, GoP X surprisingly made it to the second day of regionals for the first time in team history. After winning their first game, GoP found itself in the game-to-go-to-the-game-to-go-to nationals. GoP fell short of their goal, dropping the game to St. Olaf 15-13, but it seemed as if GoP had finally arrived, and was not going anywhere.
Has that been the case?
Well, since then, GoP has dealt with a variety of growing pains attributable to a rise in competitive nature. GoP’s roster has no shortage of personality, and each player plays for different reasons. It has been hard to get a team with so many different philosophies—some play for the tradition, others play because they didn’t make CUT, some play for social reasons, etc.—to all get on the same page. After GoP XI (2004-2005) finished a respectable 5th in the region, GoP XII fell well short of expectations. After pulling off one of the biggest upsets in team history by beating sectional powerhouse St. Cloud State TWICE at sectionals, and securing the eighth seed at regionals, GoP lost all of their games, and finished last in the region.
GoP XIII (2006-2007) sought to banish this disappointment for good. The year got off to a rocky start, as most of fall term was spent internally debating a merger with CUT to create a unified Frisbee team. It was hard to deny that GoP possessed national-quality talent, and a merged team would’ve undoubtedly been successful at the highest level. However, cooler heads prevailed, and GoP opted to wear their Hawaiians for another day. With the merger drama out of the way, GoP XIII evolved into the most talented team (on paper) in history. 2007 saw GoP’s debut at the Trouble in Vegas tournament in Las Vegas, NV, where they racked up a 7-2 record. GoP XIII also won the Follywood tournament in Folly Beach, SC, which is the only known tournament GoP has ever won. Going into sectionals, GoP was 28-10, ranked 40th in the nation, and full of the trademark GoPswagger.
No one could’ve predicted what would happen next. After going 3-1 on the first day of sectionals, and only having to win a single game to qualify for regionals, GoP lost all four of their games the next day, and failed to advance. It was undoubtedly the most crushing moment in team history, and for the author (and captain of the team at the time), by far the lowest point in his Frisbee career. Nevertheless, GoP bounced back, and finished third at D-III nationals (a national tournament created in 2006 for smaller schools), and salvaged an overall disappointing end to the season.
GoP’s future remains bright, but not without its challenges. GoP XIV is led ably by Sean Sweetnam ’08, Boris Scherbakov ‘08 and Frank McNally ’09, three of the most devout, loyal and talented Goppers ever. After last year’s collapse, regionals is no longer a given. Indeed, GoP will need to develop its young players if it hopes to succeed in an ever-improving section. Former gutter dwellers like the U of M, St. Thomas, St. Johns and UM-Duluth have all re-tooled, and look scary good. However, GoP will continue to do what it has done for years: play smart offense, tough defense, and steal the victory, discs, and the adoration of the other team’s fans. It’s what we’ve done for years. It’s what we will continue to do.
So, founders, be proud. Your team has grown into a Carleton institution, and one that isn’t going anywhere.
Jacob “BJJ” Greenberg ‘07
Former Player and Captain