By Minh Tue Le Ngoc and Januschka Veldstra
On the 13th of April, approximately 80 UCU students travelled to Amsterdam to defend our honour in the third annual Inter-UC tournament organized by the UCSRN. A lot was at stake: not only are we the oldest UC in the Netherlands, and the best, we also had to prolong our winning streak. No pressure.
The past two years, the tournament was held on our home turf. Yes, that may have created an unfair advantage for us. All the more because some UCs could only send the handful of students that was their entire student body. Last year – after a gloriously effortless victory in the first year – especially Amsterdam put up a tough fight, nearly leaving us empty-handed and broken. In the end, our chuggers, outrageous dancers, and pro athletes reduced them to nothing, but it was too close a call. This year, the try-outs were stricter, the contestants stronger, the training regimes harder. Would it be enough?
Travel back in time for a minute to those school trips in primary school. Remember the excitement? All that candy just waiting to be eaten, those rides waiting for you to jump in, those songs to be sung on the bus – energy was overabundant and the teachers cried inside for having to deal with this much youthful spirit. Now return to the present. Forced to wake up at an ungodly hour, slumped in a bus seat, you are regretting your life’s decisions once again. You have forgotten what energy feels like; right now, you could easily be mistaken for a 100-year-old on the verge of collapse. If only you had savoured your youth, back in the day, and maybe stored some of that life force for the times to come.
Soon after arrival at the fancy-looking AUC “campus”, everyone seemed to have replenished their energy supplies, though. All is fair only in love and war, but this tournament would have you think otherwise. Chipped teeth and blood gushing from wounds inflicted by misplaced hockey sticks made it hard to imagine friendships being formed there. If anything, hostility and animosity found fertile soil on these battlefields. As Super Sticky Surfaces so poignantly portrayed, we thrive on inflated egos, and find it hard to deal with the crushing and nigh-unbearable weight of defeat, be it academic or extracurricular. UCs bread winners – ruthless ambition and zeal bring out the monster in us. That monster is great at winning games, but it sucks at winning hearts and minds.
So is that it, are the UCs beyond reconciliation? Should we give up on this idealist notion of inter UC solidarity?
No! In the face of adversity, alcohol shines. Liquid courage, flowing freely into eager mouths, has a way of melting and opening up our stone cold hearts. Glasses are raised, triumph and loss toasted, and new relationships formed, however fleetingly. At the end of the day, when the heat of the moment has passed, comes the time for rejoicing, bonding, and celebrating the glory that is the University Colleges. The time for celebrating the glory that is UCU, reigning champion and undefeated ruler of the UC sphere; noble victor even when the odds were not in our favour. Once again, we delivered better jokes, better dancers, better painters, better sportsmen (kinda), better drinkers, better speakers, better University College students. It was an honour. Cheers!