By Tyler Urke
Tears, hugs and smiles marked the rugby pitch at Robert S. Harrington Field this weekend as the Vikings commemorated a fallen warrior.
The Western men’s rugby team honored Caleb Huisingh, a Western student and member of the rugby team, who died in a hiking accident in Alaska last August. The team presented the Caleb Huisingh Most Inspirational Player Award to former player and assistant coach Nate Regan, after the Vikings’ second team earned a 46-27 victory over Seattle University, Saturday, Feb. 3.
“He was a hell of a man and just to have my name tied to his is a huge honor,” Regan said. “We miss him every day.”
Caleb’s parents, Gregg and Sharon, made the trip from their home in Pasco, Washington to watch the match and attend the presentation of the award.
Caleb’s father addressed the Vikings as they stood in a line, arms linked.
“I know you’re playing for Caleb this year but remember to play for each other,” Gregg said. “That’s what drew him to you guys.”
Sharon battled tears as she spoke to the team.
“Rugby let us watch Caleb realize how amazing he was,” Sharon said. “Thank you for being brothers, teammates and friends.”
Caleb was a journalism student at Western, as well as a medical technician, a firefighter, a landscaper and a door-to-door salesman. He was 23 when he went to work at a fish cannery last summer in Hoonah, Alaska.
Paul Horne, Western’s director of rugby, said Caleb was the perfect player to embody the award.
“The team had a lot of respect for him,” Horne said. “This is a guy that would go out and say very little. But he’d go out and play hard and wouldn’t come off the field even if he was injured.”
Western’s first team didn’t play Saturday due to its scheduled opponent, Washington State University, forfeiting the match. The two are scheduled to play during Western’s bye week at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9, at Harrington Field.