To kick off the 2014 school year, UC Irvine made history by hosting the first annual Anteater Combine. The UCI athletic department opened up the doors to the Bren Events Center and welcomed students to come test their athleticism by competing in drills that the student athletes go through in their daily practices.
The competitors went through an athletic cycle which tested their skill with different sports. They first tested their volleyball skills with the vertical jump test. Participants had two attempts to demonstrate their leaping ability and block an incoming spike from the opposing team. Athletes from both the men and women’s volleyball teams showed participating students proper technique to increase their leaping ability.
They tested their speed with a track and field setting by running a timed 40 yard dash. This event proved to be one of the most popular of the events. One participant, freshman Danais Young, said the event brought him back to his High School track and field days and he was glad to get the opportunity to showcase his talents in front of the UCI athletes. The anteater participants really surprised some of the athletes, as a competing student had a 40 time of 4:52. The Bren announcer even joked that the anteater deserved recognition from NFL scouts looking for some speed.
The event successfully welcomed students to compete against one another and gain knowledge of the proper technique behind competing in these sports as our athletes do on a daily basis.
“It was a great experience,” Danais said. “[I] got to meet a lot of new people and it was a really well-rounded event.” The combine helped reach out to all students from UCI, giving them a close interaction with the student athletes and welcomes them to be involved with the UCI community and offers a friendly invitation to get to know the athletes and other students.
“It gave me the opportunity to meet other people without having to worry about being shy, or hesitant of being yourself. It was a true outreach to the freshman and pull them in and encourage us to become involved with the UCI community,” Danais said.
The ‘Eater athletes had more in store for the participants as they also hosted a free-throw challenge where the competitors had 20 seconds to make as many free-throws as they could.
Mamadou Ndiaye, Luke Nelson and Travis Souza were a few basketball athletes who made an appearance in the event and coached the participants to making free-throws. The most free-throws a student was able to make in the 20 second span was seven by a participating student. Senior guard Travis Souza shared his thoughts on the event.
“It’s always great to meet the fans that come out and support us every game and some of them impressed me with their skills,” Souza said. “I was working the broad jumps and we had a couple jumps of 110, 108 inches, probably farther than I could do it. I was impressed with their talents.”
“Come out and do it — there are all kinds of different abilities to try here, come out and have fun,” Souza said. “Come with your friends, and if you’re new to the campus come out and get to meet new people you don’t know and hang with some of the athletes and have some fun.”
Some other events that students participated in were the long jump, pull-up challenge, juggling skills with the soccer team and a pitching speed measurer.
For an event advertised last minute, the first ever anteater combined appeared to be a lot of fun for both the participants, and the athletes.
With a good turnout for a last minute even by the Bren, it is possible that UCI may just have started a tradition.