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Just Huck It: Huckfest 2012

Marlon Castillo | New University

The Men’s Ultimate Frisbee team hosted the annual Huckfest Tournament, on Saturday

“3, 2, 1, disc in!” With that, the white disc becomes a blur in the sky as 14 players begin to sprint down the field, charging towards the disc. This past Saturday marked the Annual Huckfest Tournament, also dubbed “Nightlife,” an annual event hosted by the UCI Men’s Ultimate Frisbee team.

The ARC fields were taken over by Ultimate teams from over twenty schools from across California and Arizona, including USC, UCLA, Azusa Pacific and Cal State Fullerton. Although the fields were taken over by swarms of disc-throwing individuals, Irvine’s Nightlife was easily distinguished by their Halloween costumes which included a Dora the Explorer, a bike-peddling Mormon, a lifeguard, a Batman, a Captain Underpants and a pirate, just to name a few.

Before the matches started, Nightlife gathered together for a 15-minute motivational speech that was given by a reincarnated Abraham Lincoln and was followed by the Nightlife chant of “Rip ‘em” followed by “’Eaters” as it built louder and louder, the men of Nightlife linked together with their arms draped across each others’ shoulders as they bounced up and down together. Heard from one end of the field to the other, Nightlife was getting ready to be “freed from their chains” as good ol’ Abe stated during his speech.

Never heard of Ultimate? Played in over 42 countries around the world and with numerous leagues in states across America and college campuses nationwide, it’s a sport that takes the speed and agility required for soccer, the passing skills of football, defensive skills that take a cue from basketball and a disc in for a ball.

The Irvine men and women’s ultimate teams operate as a club sport under the ARC. With over sixty players between the two teams, it often feels like a family, as Rachel “Rocket” Brown, a fourth-year Ultimate player for the women’s team, the Grass Ninjas, noted.

Under the guidance of their three captains Disko, Silver and Vendetta, otherwise known as Tyler Kenney, Adam Silver and Eric Salazar, Nightlife thrives. With over forty players on the roster and practices held three times a week, the program has grown significantly over the years. This year’s Huckfest had 23 teams – the most that Nightlife has ever hosted.

Self-officiated by the “Spirit of the Game,” which means that they operate under an honor system where players call their own fouls, keep their own score, coach each other throughout the game and maintain a high level of good sportsmanship on the field. This spirit carried on and off the field and through every match at Huckfest.

There was no trash talking from either teams, even though they were all made up of highly competitive and athletic individuals. As Nightlife’s “X” team took on their first opponent of the day in full costume, one of the players from APU who was just decked out in a simple tank and gym shorts bemoaned, “We look dumb compared to you guys!”

For Saturday’s daylong tournament, Nightlife split themselves into two teams, X and Y, which blended the twelve rookies with Nightlife returners, giving them a chance to win, play as much as possible and try to learn some new skills along the way.

During their match against APU, Nightlife played hard, with their first point being scored by Jonathan “Chia” Chen, who soared to infinity and beyond in his Buzz Lightyear costume and caught a huck in midair.

Even with the unrelenting sun threatening endless burns and buckets of sweat and surprise allergy attacks, Nightlife played hard but fell to the first three teams that they played, which included Azusa Pacific, Cal State Fullerton and UCLA. After their frustrating loss to APU, Nightlife and their opponents demonstrated the extreme sportsmanship of the game, as they chanted in honor of the other team. Azusa Ultimate players yelled “alllllll night, NIGHTLIFE,” to much chagrin of our ’Eaters.

Even after a loss during their first game against Azusa Pacific, Nightlife was still stoked and ready to play but were getting noticeably exhausted. The captains often urged the players on the sidelines to pick out a fellow Nightlife player and give them tips during each play or, if they didn’t know what to say, just cheer them on and run with them up and down the field.

Most of the chants that emanated from the sides were hearty screams of “cut deep,” “huck it” and “under, under, under.” When goals were scored, Nightlife players often gutturally yelled “NIGHTLIFEEEE” and, for those who were wearing hats, threw them to the ground.

During their second match against Fullerton, the X team decided to name themselves Team “Xcrement” which incited chants of “team poo” from the sidelines, especially by John “Mowgli” Laughlin, the oldest member of Nightlife. Even though players were exhausted from hucking hard and running fast, it still managed to crack a smile on their sweat-drenched and sunburnt faces.

Going three games without a win frustrated the Nightlifers, but they channeled it into utter determination to win their fourth match against Cal Poly SLO. Points were scored left and right as Nightlife took to the field with three losses under their belts and came off with a win.

Every winter quarter, the veterans come together and officially welcome the rookie players, though they are always treated as respected members of the team and never as underlings. Their welcoming comes with a nickname that the veterans pick out from either crazy stories that they’ve witnessed, personality traits or even clothes that the players wear on a frequent basis, like Vendetta’s blue hat that has a “V” on it or neon colored clothes that led Kenney to be dubbed “Disko.”

Nightlife has been “breaking marks and breaking hearts since 2003,” as Captain Disko put it. Since 2003, Irvine has been one lucky school to have a group of guys and gals who are so athletic, passionate and supportive of each other and damn proud of their school. Party on, Nightlife.  Party on.