The action of the Unicycle Football League (UFL) has become a way of life for many San Marcians. Photos by Sean Batura.
By SEAN BATURA
The Unicycle Football League (UFL), San Marcos’ home-grown sport, has completed incorporation paper work as the city’s parks advisory board considers finding a permanent location for the league’s games.
UFL founder and Commissioner Marcus Garland made a presentation on Sept. 15 to the advisory board, which then asked him to take the next step.
“(Garland) made a short presentation, (the board members) asked me a few short legal questions, and that’s all they’ve done so far,” San Marcos Assistant City Attorney Andy Quittner said. “(The parks advisory board is) waiting on (UFL) to be incorporated and to get some kind of insurance, because all the groups that use the same property on a regular basis have to be insured.”
Garland said the necessary paperwork is complete, but he wants a legal expert to inspect it before he makes his next presentation before the parks advisory board.
UFL games are currently played every Sunday afternoon in downtown San Marcos, in an abandoned service station parking lot across Hopkins Street “small” H-E-B and next door to Tantra Coffeehouse. Two years ago, while working as a barista at Tantra, Garland first conceived the idea of unicycle football.
“I scoffed,” said UFL player Austin Reeves of the Berzerkerz. “Like, the first two season that these guys played, I told them they were all nuts. ‘You’re out of your friggin’ mind for doing this to yourselves.’ And here I am, now the quarterback of my own damn team.”
UFL is a high-contact sport, evident from Garland’s arm sling he sported on Sunday, though it did not stop him from playing that day. The players use flags to lower the possibility of falls, but the difficulty of unicycling, coupled with a rule that allows players to use, according to the UFL rulebook, “the least amount of force required to cause the ball handler to dismount their unicycle,” renders crashes inevitable. Reeves said that although UFL players “go out of their way” to avoid hurting one another, their competitive spirit sometimes gets the best of them.
There are currently five UFL teams, with each one fielding five players during any given game.
“The pool of unicyclists is growing and growing,” Reeves said. “We have between 40 and 60 unicyclists here in San Marcos now.”
Reeves said UFL can always use more players, and Garland was seen recruiting a potential candidate who he spotted demonstrating his potential in the abandoned parking lot/UFL stadium after Sunday’s game.
“We started with three or four riders” Garland said. “We started asking people, ‘Who wants to play unicycle football?’ And a lot of people were like, ‘Well, I do, but I don’t know how to ride.’ And we were like, ‘That’s exactly who we’re looking for.’ So we got a sponsorship from Ozone Bikes and The Hub.”
San Marcos City Councilmember John Thomaides was at Tantra Coffeehouse Monday afternoon strategizing for his re-election campaign with an advisor when he was asked what he thought about the prospect of the city reserving space for UFL games.
“I think it really adds to the character of San Marcos,” Thomaides said.
According to Reeves, some San Marcos residents are somewhat less than thrilled with football reinterpreted.
“They break glass bottles here out on our field,” Reeves said. “They’re cowards. We come out here and there’s Smirnoff Ice bottles broken all over the field. This is where we play and fall down.”
Every UFL game is accompanied by the cheers — and jeers — of a group of female cheerleaders known as the UniBrawdz.
“We’ve hung out for so long that we all kinda think alike, so as soon as a jeer needs to be said, we’re usually all on the same page,” said UniBrawdz member known under the UFL name of “La Beso Bandita.”
All UFL players also adopt nicknames. For instance, Garland’s UFL name is “Larry Gunn,” while Reeves’ is “Fresh Nasty.”
Neither the parks advisory board nor the UFL has proposed a new location for UFL games, though Quittner and Garland say the ideal space would be mostly of concrete to accommodate unicycles.
“I’d like to see the parks board’s recommendation,” Thomaides said. “I think it would be nice to find a way to make it happen for all the parties.
Then, added Thomaides with a laugh, “Maybe the parking lot at Springtown might work.”
Springtown Center, the Thorpe Lane shopping center abandoned by Target and Best Buy, among other stores, might have been redeveloped into an entertainment venue had Springtown developers not pulled their proposal before a crucial city council meeting on July 21. City officials are still trying to map the future for Springtown.
But even if the UFL’s future takes it away from Tantra, the coffeehouse that birthed unicycle football still figures to be the hub of its activity.
“I imagine a good chunk of the (UFL) players will still hang out here,” said Tantra Coffeehouse co-owner Nathan Todd Monday at his coffee shop. “I’ve offered to have after-parties for them here, like we have in the past. Tantra’s not affiliated with (UFL). However, it’s kind of become known as if it’s part of Tantra. So it’ll be missed for sure. I love being able to watch it next door while I’m working, and I imagine everyone who hangs out here does. But if (relocating the games) aids in their growth, that would be awesome.”
Bikes and bodies fly about during a recent UFL game.Email | Print