D-III Men’s Team Names, A History

The People's Division is known for its wacky and lovable antics, often reflected in the teams' very names. Dive into the stories behind your favorite teams across the division, from funny origins to plays on words to collaboration with their women's team counterparts

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There’s a reason the D-III division was dubbed the “People’s Division” by the 2021 Donovan winner Hunter Lang. The teams play a loose style of ultimate, yell funky cheers, wear outlandish jerseys, and most importantly develop some genius while also hilarious team names. Every team has a story, and I set out recently to find these stories and share them with the world. From reaching out to all the D-III men’s schools I could, scouring the web for every team website, and most importantly, listening to a 7500 Club podcast episode from 2020 when Mike Ball and Sam Echaveria drafted D-III team names. I found the backstory/reasoning from over sixty team names (and more than ten women’s team names as a result), ranging from funny stories to plays on words; this list has it all!

If your team wasn’t included, please reach out to [email protected]

Fun Stories

Berry Bucks

Berry College’s deer population is wildly high – the student-to-deer ratio is 1:7! Hence, the name Bucks.

Claremont Braineaters

Legend has it that the 1979 team was one day away from their first tournament and needed a name. A teammate heard about a low-budget B movie on TV that night called “The Braineaters” and decided it would suffice. Ironically, the whole team missed the movie that night for reasons I cannot write on this page. To this day, no member of the Braineaters has ever seen the movie; it is written into the team bylaws.

Christopher Newport Skymaul

Some names on this list detail intricate stories, but this one is pretty simple. A CNU player was flying on a plane one day and read the in-flight entertainment magazines. One was titled Skymaul, and he loved the name so much he brought it back to CNU. Pretty fitting that the team from Newport News is named after a magazine!

Elon Big Fat Bomb

“The Big Fat Bomb” is a sandwich at one of the only local sandwich shops in Elon. It’s a homage to Elon and the small-town vibe surrounding it.

Franciscan Fatal

It’s not necessarily a fun story, but it is the most important one you will read on this list. According to Francsican’s page on USAU, “The team’s name came to be through the inspiration of a friend of those who founded the team — Neal Albert Rylatt. Neal was an ultimate player and would have undoubtedly helped in the formation and progression of the team. However, he contracted leukemia and passed away on May 4, 2012. His nickname was “Fat Al,” which the team later adopted as its name and his initials and number (NAR 16) on our crest. Fatal also plays in honor of another student who passed away before getting to compete on the team — Max Von Arx; his initials and number also appear on the Fatal crest (MVA 22)”

Grinnell Grinnellephants

The Grinnellephants isn’t just a play on words with the school name Grinnell. Between 1884 and 1890, multiple primitive elephant bones were found in Grinnell, Iowa. Kudos to the women’s team, the Grinneleanor Roosevelts, who keep the pattern of having Grinnell in their name.

Haverford Big Donkeys

I was told this name simply came from “immature college students wanting to make a ‘big ass’ joke” a couple of decades ago. Never change D-III, never change.

Lewis & Clark Bacchus

The story behind Bacchus – which is yet to be determined real or fake – came from when there were two rival clubs. Told by Mike Ball on the 7500 Club, A young fiery group named themselves Bacchus, while an older group of players was the Chicken Scratch. The clubs decided to play for the title of the official Lewis & Clark ultimate club in an epic game, with Bacchus winning on universe point off of a 30-yard high-release lefty backhand break. The women’s team Artemis kept the Pantheon theme and is arguably the cooler name. Artemis was the goddess of the hunt, commonly associated with a stag. Lewis & Clark College is located in Portland, a city famous for its White Stag sign.

Middlebury Pranksters

The name Pranksters comes from a group of psychedelic enthusiast travelers in the 1960s who went up and down the west coast. The book by Tom Wolfe, The Electric Acid Kool-Aid Test, documents the journey of the group who called themselves the “Merry Pranksters”, and now the team makes sure they always have a copy of the book.

Oberlin Flying Horsecows

The family-friendly version of this story for this site tells the tale that Oberlin players in the 80s came across a mobile gas sign with a Pegasus logo. The team then drew udders under the pegasus creating the Flying Horsecow.

Rensselaer Polytech Trudge

RPI was one of the first-ever ultimate programs, losing to Rutgers in the final of the first-ever UPA College Nationals in 1975. There were 10 college males on the team (or at least a couple of girls who also played with dudes). Pursuing revenge on the 1975 game versus Rutgers, these self-proclaimed uglies decided they needed a new name. Hence: Ten Really Ugly Dudes Getting Even, or TRUDGE. Shoutout to RPI’s women’s team who then named themselves Strut!

SUNY Cortland Team Rocket

The origins of the name Team Rocket are not completely clear, but a good guess might say they founders of the team were fans of Pokemon, and wanted to keep the school’s red colors. The team continues to lay into the Pokémon theme, with every player given a Pokémon on the back of their jerseys.

The College of New Jersey Revolution

In 2002, a couple of freshmen at The College of New Jersey were fiending to play some frisbee. An unserious club was formed and existed for about five years until they decided they wanted to play competitively in 2007. This newfound focus and transition of the club’s goals gave them the name Revolution, starting a new era for TCNJ ultimate.

Wheaton Mastadon

Who knew so many elephant-like animals were discovered in the Midwest? Perry the Mastodon was discovered in a pond being excavated in the town of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, in the year 1963. It’s honestly surprising that Wheaton College didn’t call themselves the Mastodons, but at least the ultimate team kept the name.

Whitman Sweets

I get it, ultimate teams are strange, but even I was confused about why Whitman’s logo was an onion. You no longer have to be confused though, as there is a fascinating story to go behind it. In the late 1800s hundreds on the Island of Corsica off the west coast of Italy, French soldier Peter Pieri found a sweet onion seed and brought it to Walla Walla, Washington. The sweet onion immediately grew in popularity, thanks to its exceptional sweetness, jumbo size, and round shape. The onions define the small town of 33,000, six hours from Seattle, where they have an onion festival every year. Hence the name, Whitman Sweets.

Xavier B.L.O.B.

B.L.O.B. told me they couldn’t share the story of their team name or they would get in trouble with club athletics. I’ll leave it at that.

 

 

University Names and Play on Words

Air Force Afterburn

As a school with many aeronautical engineering majors, the name Afterburn felt a fitting name for the Air Force. An afterburner is an additional component present on some jet engines, which provides an additional increase in thrust for super-sonic speeds. On a less serious note, when Air Force had a B team, they called themselves Virgin Airlines.

Butler Big Dog

The school mascot for Butler University is the Bulldogs, making a simple transition to name the ultimate team Big Dog. Their B team name is the Underdogs, and the women’s team is the Hot Dogs!

Cal-Tech Aftermath

Another literal name, Cal Tech is a school known for having genius engineering and math students. Therefore, Aftermath fits well.

Cedarville Swarm

Cedarville University’s mascot is the Yellowjackets, so it was an easy transition to Swarm. Swarm can be used in ultimate dictionaries like swarming the disc, or swarming with a zone.

Colorado College Wasabi

This one gave me the biggest “ahhh that makes sense” moment when I found out the meaning. Wasabi in Japanese roughly translates to “mountain root.” Colorado Springs, the location of Colorado College’s campus, is at the root of the mountains, giving way to the Wasabi team name.

Colorado School of Mines Entropy

A primarily engineering school, Mines named themselves after the thermodynamic concept of Entropy, which means the degree of disorder or randomness in a system.

Embry Riddle Dirty Bird

When the school told the ultimate team they couldn’t keep the varsity name, the Eagles, Embry Riddle ultimate named themselves the Dirty Bird. For one, the southeast NFL Falcon’s nickname is the Dirty Birds, and also multiple historic airplanes were called Dirty Bird. Embry Riddle is also an aeronautical school, giving the name a double meaning.

Harding Apocalypse

Giving a nod to the school’s Christian origins, Harding’s ultimate team voted to name themselves Apocalypse, referencing the biblical story of the Four Horsemen and the Apocalypse.

High Point Bagheera

High Point University’s varsity athletics are the Panthers. Former D-III editor Mike Ball and the rest of the team created the name Bagheera, about the name of the panther that looks after Mowgli in the Disney movie The Jungle Book.

Ithaca Nawshaus

In the early 90s Ithaca played a tournament the morning after a raucous party. When the captains went to check in at Tournament Central, the director asked what team they were representing. The captains misheard the TD and thought they had said “How are you feeling”, so they responded with “nauseous.” Confused, the TD wrote down Nawshus, and the name stuck. When Ithaca’s women’s team came into existence, they named themselves a similar “Kweezy.”

Kenyon SERF

Before Kenyon College’s mascot was the Owls, it used to be the Lords and Ladies. The name SERF plays off of that, as serfs were medieval laborers bound under the feudal system to work on their lord’s estate. Since ultimate is a club sport without the funding, field space, or respect of Kenyon’s varsity team, they took the name, SERF, as in they are the serfs to the lords and ladies of Kenyon.

Luther LUFDA

Although the name LUFDA (Luther Ultimate Flying Disc Association) seems like a boring team name at first, it has a significant relation to the history of the school. Luther has strong ties to its Norwegian past, and students can often be heard saying the phrase “uffda!” which in Norwegian means “Oh, for gosh sakes.” LUFDA -> uffda!

Mary Washington Mother of George

This name is quite literal. Mary Washington was the mother of the first president George Washington.

Missouri S&T Miner Threat

The founders of the team were fans of the 80’s punk band Minor Threat, and of course, the fact Missouri S&T’s mascot is the Miners.

Michigan Tech Disco-Tech

I mean, some Technical school was going to have to name themselves Disco-Tech at some point or another, right?

Navy Poseidon

Known as the Greek God of the Sea, it’s fairly obvious how the Naval Academy came up with Poseidon, which could be one of the coolest in ultimate.

Occidental Detox

Students shorten Occidental to the nickname OXY, which is where the name Detox most likely formed.

Pacific Lutheran Reign

It precipitates a lot in the Northwest, so it makes perfect sense that Pacific Lutheran named themselves Reign. Spelling it that way allows double meanings as well.

Puget Sound Postmen

The acronym for the University of Puget Sound is UPS, just like the United Postal Service, hence the Postmen.

Reed Hoot

The Doyle Owl is the unofficial mascot of Reed College, a three-foot, 300-pound Owl that was a stolen item during random dorm wars in 1913. Hoot pays a nod to the Doyle Owl.

Richmond Spidermonkeys

University of Richmond’s school mascot is the Spiders, hence the team name the Spidermonkeys. The team was founded just a couple of years after the movie “12 Monkeys” was released, which could have factored into the name choice, considering their logo comes from the movie. On a similarly fun note, the Spidermonkeys’ B team, formed in 2021, named themselves the Spiderpigs after the Simpsons clip.

Scranton Electric City

No, Scranton Ultimate didn’t name themselves after the line in Michael Scott’s rap, Straight Outta Scranton. The city’s nickname, in general, is the Electric City, after the first ever electric street cars were used in 1886.

Skidmore Wombats

From 1972-1981, Skidmore College went by the Wombats, but changed to Thoroughbreds because they felt wombat lacked the image of an athlete. In true ultimate counterculture fashion, the ultimate team kept the Wombat name.

Spring Hill SHUC

SHUC stands for Spring Hill Ultimate Club, and the team likes it because they can use it in many cheers – SHUC it, SHUC you, and its rhyming scheme with huck.

St. John’s BAM

While St. John’s just goes by BAM now, it in the past has stood for Bad Ass Monks, a nod to its school’s religious background.

Swarthmore Earthworms

The name Earthworms is an anagram of Swarthmore! Swarthmore Warmothers is the name of the women’s squad, also an anagram.

Whitworth Bangarang

The Lost Boys of Neverland’s rallying cry was “Bangarang.” Whitworth College’s school mascot is the Pirates, and combined with the fact the team always felt like the Lost Boys because of how much ultimate teams get overlooked by the “real” sports at college, the name Bangarang began.

Wisconsin-Platteville Udderburn

Wisconsin is well-known for its dairy, giving way to the name Udderburn.

Name Changes

Bates Orange Whip

Another school that has existed since near the beginning of ultimate, Bates first ultimate team emerged in the 1980’s as the Bates (Ultimate) Masters. In 1992 they changed it to Crack Babies, before settling with Orange Whip in 1988, which still exists today.

Bowdoin Clown

Bowdoin’s first-ever team name was BUFF, which stood for Bowdoin Ultimate Frisbee Federation. Then for a very brief period, they went by the Magic Walrus Sh*ts. From what I can tell, the name Stoned Clown comes from a Clown headpiece made of stone. With the prior name Magic Walrus Sh*ts and Bowdoin being a D-III school, you can infer there’s probably more to Stoned Clown than what is told. Of course, the team can only go by Clown now.

Brandeis Tron

Between 2000 and 2003, Brandeis changed their team name from Fluid Union to Tron. If any Tron alumni have the reasoning behind the name, please share!

Carleton CHOP

If you start to notice a trend of Norwegian ancestry for these North Central teams, it’s not over just yet. Carleton’s second team formed in 1995, calling themselves the Gods of Plastic and wearing jerseys displaying a fierce Norse god brandishing a large hammer according to their team website. They did play off the Republican part of their title, calling plays based on big conservatives at the time. Carleton changed their name in 2021 to CHOP, standing for Carleton House of Pancakes.

Carthage Blitz

As we grow older, we grow wiser, and so is the story of Carthage Blitz, which was originally named Blitzkrieg. Distancing themselves from the third reich history, Blitz fit the bill just as well, as it worked for their style of fast-paced break offenses that wouldn’t even give time for defenses to get set.

Colby Center for Disc Control (CDC)

In 2019, the Colby Dazzlin’ Asses surprised everyone by making Nationals for the first time in school history. Unfortunately for them, the Dazzlin’ Asses was not an approved name by USAU, so for Nationals it had to change. They decided on CUT, standing for Colby Ultimate Team jokingly as Carleton CUT did not make Nationals infamously that year. Obviously CUT couldn’t stay, and Colby changed their name to Center for Disc Control, or CDC, just in time for the 2020 season. We all know how that turned out…

Connecticut College Deimos

From the 1980s to 2021, Connecticut College’s ultimate team went by Dasein, popularized by a German philosopher. However, recently a student found ties between the Nazi party and this philosopher, and the team quickly changed its name. They wanted to keep a D as the starting letter and stumbled across Deimos, a moon of Mars. The players loved the moon’s history and its namesake, the Greek son of Aries, and the name stuck. The women’s team also changed their name to a Jupiter moon called Amalthea.

Davidson DUFF

DUF stands for Davidson Ultimate Frisbee. The final F has been up for interpretation since the beginning, interchanging between Folks, Friends, and, at one point, another Frisbee. As DUFF evolves as a culture, so does the final F. Plus, they can use The Simpsons’ popular beer as an element of jersey design.

Dickinson Dumptrucks

Originally, Dickinson called themselves the Jive Turkeys but decided to change it a few years ago due to its racial connotations. A temporary band aid of Junkyard Turkeys was used, but members of the team still felt like it should break from the original name fully. A year-long renaming process landed the team with the name Dumptrucks.

John Brown Ironfist

John Brown was the Folding Beagles up until 2011 because they couldn’t use their mascot, the Golden Eagles. They changed to Ironfist after a tree found on their homemade frisbee golf course around campus. “It’s a strong tree that eats any frisbee that hits its branches, and was named Ironfist,” according to former player Joel Stennet.

Knox River Rats

Knox possibly could have the most name changes out of any teams I researched. Since the founding in 1995, they have gone by Dingoes, Baberham, Ruckus, and Iron Spike, before finally choosing River Rats. Baberham and the women’s team’s former name Mary Todd comes from the town’s close relation to Abraham Lincoln. Now their women’s team calls themselves the Alley Cats.

Macalester Flat Earth

Before 2021, Macalester’s ultimate team went by the Blue Monkeys, but reformed the team in 2021 to Flat Earth “because of its similarity to the shape of the disc we know and love, and also for its usefulness when telling the club sports office what type of field space we deserve to use for practice,” according to their captains.

Shippensburg Scapegoats

Shippensburg ultimate has gone by three names in its history. Before they even played sanctioned events, they started as the Living Nightmare. In 2000, a switch was made to the Ship Flickers, until they finally landed on the Scapegoats one year later.

St. Olaf Bezerkers

Of this list, the Zerks have one of the most drastic name changes. In 1997 the team first went by “The Congo” but switched just three years later. The team became known as Sanuk, meaning “a Buddhist approach to living life at a laid-back and relaxing pace.” However, within a year, the vibes and goals of the St. Olaf ultimate team must have drastically changed. In 2001, they renamed themselves the Berzerkers, Viking warriors with uncontrollable rage and bloodlust said to have fought in a trance-like fury, most likely an homage to the Norwegian history of the school.

Wesleyan Neitzsch Factor

The name Neitzsch Factor does not come from the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, maybe to the surprise of many of you. Instead, the name developed in the 1970s when the team was called Wes-U-Bee, short for “where’s your frisbee?” A player by the name of David Garfield joined the team, who held the nickname Neitzsch for his entire life. He was deceptively fast and a primary contributor to the squad. Many plays developed off of his name, and the team ended up deciding to name it after him in 1980. The team has a whole website dedicated to this very interesting story which you can read here.

Women’s Teams Counterparts

Portland UPRise

Portland’s men’s team goes by UPrise, including the UP for the University of Portland. The women’s team is UPRoar, playing off the same thing.

SUNY Geneseo Snail

Again, while I couldn’t get the history behind the name Snail, it’s fun that SUNY Geneseo’s women’s team name is the cooked version of the men’s– Escargot.

SUNY Oneonta SOFA

While the name the men’s team name SOFA simply stands for Suny Oneonta Frisbee Association, Oneonta’s women’s team plays off this with their name Lovechair.

Truman State University’s JujiTSU

The acronym TSU, short for Truman State University, is used in the name JujiTSU. Their women’s team followed the same format with the name TSUnami.

UNC Asheville Mudpuppy

UNC Asheville used to go by their school name, the Bulldogs, but recently switched it in 2023 because it felt pretty generic. Their captains told me they wanted to use an animal native to North Carolina, and their women’s team was the Hellbenders. Keeping with the salamander theme, UNCA chose the Mudpuppy.

Union Jaxx

It’s a pretty simple story, but the original Union ultimate players named themselves the Jaxx after the British flag called the Union Jack. When the women’s team started to form at Union, they thought it would be fun to name themselves the Jillz, after the nursery rhyme Jack and Jill.

Vassar Swinging Monks

I don’t quite know the history or reasoning behind Swinging Monks for Vassar, but it’s funny to know the women’s team name is Boxing Nuns.

School Name Followers

Ave Maria Gyrenes

Ave Maria considers ultimate a varsity sport, forcing them to keep the name Gyrenes. According to the school’s website, a Gyrene, while “first applied to Marines as a jocular reference by other branches of the service, the Marines quickly adopted ‘gyrene’ as an affectionate, self-descriptive phrase – one that made them stand out from other services. During World Wars I and II the phrase ‘GI’ was applied to all service members as being ‘Government Issue.’ Then and now, Gyrene was understood to be a special kind of ‘government issue’ – a ‘government issue Marine,’ or ‘Gyrene.’”

Davenport Panthers

Unsurprisingly, a scholarship-giving school requires the ultimate team name to be the same as the varsity team’s name – the Panthers.

Grace Lancers

Like Messiah below, Grace College asked their ultimate team to keep the school’s mascot, the Lancers. However, beforehand they went by the Krispies. Kellogg’s were not fans, especially when the team used the Rice Krispies font for their jerseys, which was eventually prohibited.

Messiah Falcons

The ultimate team at Messiah used to be called Fire and Brimstone but changed to Mammoth Rebellion a few years later. In 2016, the club sports department was brought under by the varsity sports umbrella, forcing them to go by the Falcons. This year, however, is the first year they have alternate jerseys that will feature a throwback Mammoth Rebellion logo!

Oklahoma Christian Eagles

See Davenport.

  1. Calvin Ciorba
    Calvin Ciorba

    Calvin Ciorba is a D-III Men's writer currently studying Leadership and Economics in his junior year at the University of Richmond. He started his ultimate career in St. Louis, MO playing ultimate at Ladue High School and St. Louis Storm YCC, when he also created the popular frisbee Instagram account Discmemes. Now he has sold the account and plays for the UR Spidermonkeys. You can find him on twitter @calvin_ciorba for passionate takes on the "People's Division."

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