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Weekend Warriors Defy Aches And Pains Of Age

November 29, 2002

David Leiva

dleiva@tulane.edu

As much as Chris Brady likes football, to this day, he can't explain why he didn't play in high school, but he's regretted it ever since. And that regret is partly why Brady, inventory control specialist at the health sciences center, looks forward to Sunday mornings. That's when he and 14 other staff members from the materials management office become the Legion of Doom and drive onto the uptown campus to play a modified version of America's rough-and-tumble pastime.

In 2000, Brady's group defeated much younger opponents en route to winning the championship of Tulane's intramural flag football league run by the Reily Student Recreation Center's campus recreation department. Capturing the league championship in two of the past five years, Doom has developed a reputation. Students don't like playing them because they are so much better, said Mike Pursell, assistant director of campus recreation. Not bad for a bunch of old guys.

The Doom squad, whose name references a professional wrestling group, comprises members whose ages range from 26 to 51, but they compete with freshmen, fraternities and graduate students. This season, they are not the only non-student team competing for bragging rights.

Two others teams, composed primarily of Tulane staffers, are competing head-to-head against students: the appropriately named Facilities Services, and the Reily Rockers, which is outfitted with men and women who work in the Reily Student Recreation Center. For some, like Brady, it's a chance at glory.

"I like playing football. I like it that much," said Brady, the star of his team and, at 26, its youngest player. But for his teammate, 43-year-old Kevin McKnight, assistant shop supervisor, it's about running a two-minute drill on Father Time.

"I want to see how long I can do it," McKnight chuckled. "I figure I've got seven more years." As the second-oldest member of Doom, McKnight is easily twice the age of many of his opponents. At 51, Doom's Garry Roland, storeroom supervisor, is the oldest.

Jaime Yepez, a carpenter in facilities services, echoes the theme of cheerful defiance. According to Yepez, machismo played a role in organizing the squad. "We wanted to make sure we still got it, he said, even though we're getting older." Yepez, 27, is the father figure on the facilities services team that includes two student workers and his younger brother, Galo, who works in the recycling department.

On a recent Saturday morning, they arrived in their own golf cart, donning their signature blue-logo work shirts. And won handily. But even in victory the team is likely to trade wicked barbs. "We don't need promoting like that," cracked Mike Duceung, heavy equipment operator in facilities services, after witnessing the Yepez brothers defense burned for a score. "They can't play with those youngsters," Duceung jested. "It will put Galo in the hospital."

Still, entering week three, the facilities services team remains undefeated. Not to be outdone, Kevin Englande, assistant director of conference services, is quick to tout the Reily Rockers undefeated record in which no opponent has scored. Truth be told, however, neither have the Rockers: all their wins have come on forfeits after the other teams didn't show.

"I knew we were good, but I didn't know we were that intimidating," he said. All games end this month. Basketball, soccer and softball seasons will begin in January.

For more information contact the Reily program office at (504) 865-5170. David Leiva may be reached at dleiva@tulane.edu.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu