Bainbridge Ultimate looks to exceed state run

The Bainbridge boys Ultimate frisbee varsity team earned a bid to the State Championships for the first time in its high school history this fall.

Ultimate, also known as ultimate frisbee, contains seven players on a field at once. It is a non-contact sport where teams earn points by catching a frisbee in the endzone. Bainbridge Ultimate has a boys season in the fall, mixed season in the winter and girls season in the spring,

“There are structural differences between the teams we play against,” coach Andrew Lovejoy said. “In the winter, the team plays eight games, and based on your record you get slotted into a playoff bracket. Fall and spring leagues have sub-leagues where you play each team twice and have a chance to make the state bracket.”

Even though Bainbridge Ultimate reached state, the success to the program is new. But it’s been going on for 23 years. Bainbridge Ultimate started when six high schoolers, including Lovejoy, wanted to play competitively against other schools in 1999.

“Most games would be those six and one or two people who showed up sometimes,” Lovejoy said. “We have 43 signed up this winter. It’s grown a lot and grown in the area. There were eight to ten teams when I was competing and now every high school in Seattle has a team.”

Lovejoy added the landscape changed drastically when he began playing at Carleton College after graduating from Bainbridge.

“We would have been demolished by these kids now,” Lovejoy said. “One of the biggest differences was how player-driven it was. Many teams didn’t have coaches. We had a coach who showed up one day a week but wasn’t that invested so we just learned on our own a lot.”

Currently, players have the ability to learn skills on the internet. However, Lovejoy and his friends relied on watching one VHS tape from a national championship constantly.

As the landscape changed and Bainbridge began to win games, they earned respect within the community.

“There were years where we scrambled for whatever slots we can get for the field,” Lovejoy said. “The school has stepped up the last few years and supported us. We have three practices a week for two hours on the turf.”

Over the years, Bainbridge has taken advantage of the opportunities and become a respectable team within the league.

“We are at a point where teams respect us and expect a challenge,” Lovejoy said. “All I care is that we think we can put up a challenge. If we can go to a school and be like, ‘We’re Bainbridge. We belong and can hang at this level,’ I don’t care what they think.”

Their state playoff team was able to demand respect through their style of play. Although their offensive game plans have changed over the years, their defensive mindset has remained consistent. “I really try to get my players to buy into a tight and physical matchup defense,” Lovejoy said. “We get the team excited to play defense.”

The coach gave all the team’s credit to the players. “It’s rewarding but I can’t take a whole of credit for it since I was not coaching during COVID and just returned this fall. One of the differences that got us to state was the core group of players who got excited about the sport.”

As the team continues to improve and with a strong junior class returning, Bainbridge’s expectations continue to rise. “We are a long way from playing at [the Seattle level] but my hope is if we keep seeing players buying in, we will have a great season,” Lovejoy said. “My expectation is to build on it and use it as an example.”

Spencer Freeman skies high to grab a disc against Mercer Island High School, in the divisional playoff game to go to the state tournament.

Spencer Freeman skies high to grab a disc against Mercer Island High School, in the divisional playoff game to go to the state tournament.