Kristian Evans, Senior News Editor
They go by many names, formerly “Hulk Smash,” currently “The Benchwarmers,” but most importantly, you can call them defending Augsburg intramural volleyball champions.
Arlan Yang, Joshua Lee, Kengi Yang, Arteni Chin, Lin Win and Thomas Le are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to their volleyball skills. Last year, Arlan Yang was searching for people who were interested in volleyball. Thomas, new to the school as a transfer student, joined after he met the group in open gym, hoping to meet a new group of friends.
“Everyone else on the team came into Augsburg together, but Arlan reached out to me and said he was putting together a team of interested people. Only a few of us on the team had ever played before, but we thought it would be fun.”
While the overwhelming majority of intramural teams meet just to play their scheduled games, the passion of this particular team goes above and beyond, especially after back-to-back losses in the playoff finals.
“We take it seriously. Our first two seasons, we got to the finals and lost. After that, we got together and just said as a group, ‘We need to win a championship.’”
The team would take over the racquet ball court in Kennedy twice a week in order to practice from 8 p.m. until the gym closed, hoping to develop the skills necessary to eventually claim their first title.
That chance came in a matchup against a team called “XX” this past season. From the outset, Thomas knew this would be a challenge. “We had to rally down a set, and we got absolutely rolled,” said Thomas “But we found our groove and came back to win the title.”
While the team’s success is impressive, their bond goes beyond the court; four of the team members live together in Luther and have become extremely close since founding the team.
“We tried to make it as much like a team; we wanted to become a family; we wanted that brotherhood that comes from playing sports together,” said Thomas.
A variety of majors, from computer science to sociology, the team members are all united by a unique drive the sets them up for success in both sport and life. “Finding a group of friends who share the same motivation and willingness to sacrifice things for one another,” said Thomas, “that type of brotherhood means the world to me.”
The team’s success has continued as they boast an undefeated record in the current intramural season, only dropping one set in the process. But regardless of the number of championship T-shirts they collect, in many ways, they’ve already won more than any intramural team ever could.
This article was originally published in the Dec. 14, 2018 issue.
Team “Hulk Smash” sporting Intramural Champion shirts. Photo by Thomas Le.