Photos by Paul Andris and Jeff Bell – UltiPhotos.com
On Friday, Vancouver announced their first signings for the third season of Major League Ultimate. Morgan ‘Morgatron’ Hibbert, Brendan ‘Brendo’ Wong, and Charles ‘Bobo’ Eyrich have signed on for the 2015 season.
The three veterans re-sign five months after winning the Western Conference Championship and losing to the D.C. Current in the 2014 MLU Finals.
After a tough inaugural MLU season when he was hobbled by injuries, Hibbert was healthy last season, and it showed. Named the team captain at the beginning of the 2014 season, he was a dominant force on Vancouver’s D-line and tied the MLU single season record of 20 defensive plays on his way to collecting the Western Conference Defensive Player of the Year award.
“Despite making it all the way to the MLU championship game last year, I thought we were far too inconsistent in our play throughout the season. I am really hoping we can improve that and put forth a more consistent performance this season.”
Hibbert was also a force with the disc in his hands, scoring more points than any other D-liner in the entire league. His throwing prowess is underlined by the fact that he took almost every pull for the team last season, and he often subbed on with the O-line when they needed a lift.
Making a big difference off the field, Hibbert has taken a lead role in the team’s promotional activities. At the end of every game there is always a line-up of awe-struck kids waiting to get his autograph. This will be a focus again this year.
“I am most looking forward to increasing our awareness in the community,” said Hibbert. “One of the most rewarding aspects of playing with the Nighthawks is the opportunities to connect with new fans who have never seen the sport before. I would like to take that to the next level, especially with the younger generations and get them excited about ultimate frisbee.”
Hibbert joins longtime teammate Brendan Wong who had an outstanding rookie season in 2014.
“I am really excited to be playing with Brendo again,” said Hibbert. “The two of us have been teammates since we were 19, almost 15 years by now, so we have a really special connection that can only develop from playing together for that long.”
With his speed and fitness, his intense desire to score goals and his uncanny field awareness, he became the fulcrum of the Vancouver offense. After a first season where the O-line often sputtered and managed only 175 goals, last season they became a real force, ending up with 212 goals, only a few behind eventual MLU champions, the D.C. Current.
And much of the credit for that improvement goes to Wong, who obliterated the MLU regular season goal scoring record with a total of 48, an average of almost five a game. To top things off, he added enough assists to also break the single season points record with a total of 64, which earned him, in addition to the MVP, the MLU Western Conference Rookie of the Year award.
“I am looking forward to returning for another season with the Nighthawks,” said Wong. “It’s great to have familiar friends and teammates like Morgan Hibbert and Bobo Eyrich rejoining the team as well. Together we can build on what we accomplished last season, making it all the way to the MLU finals. And of course I really enjoy playing in front of the home crowd at Thunderbird Stadium.”
Even after such an outstanding first season, Wong remains the consummate team player.
“As much as I’d like to say it’s possible to match or exceed last season’s numbers, it would be putting too much pressure on myself to do so!”
“I certainly hope to continue being a strong presence on the field and contribute in any way possible. Whether I’m catching goals, throwing assists, or just helping advance the disc down the field, or even just maintain possession, it doesn’t matter to me what my numbers say on the stat sheet. While it’s exciting and humbling to be recognized for the individual effort, I’d rather just be doing whatever it takes to help the team win.”
Rounding out the trio in this first signing, Charles Eyrich joins the Nighthawks for a third consecutive season.
“Bobo brings the kind of work ethic that a team can use to build a strong foundation for future achievements,” said Hibbert.
Like Hibbert, Eyrich has been forced to deal with injuries, but in his case they impacted both seasons, not just the first. That’s been his focus in the offseason.
“I have had injury troubles at the start of each season, so I’m doing my best to avoid that this year,” said Eyrich. “So far in my MLU career I’ve had to start each season from the bottom and work my way up. I’m trying to tailor my offseason preparation to be healthy and ready to go come tryouts, practice and the season.”
Injuries aside, Eyrich has really enjoyed the MLU experience.
“The marketing team has done an amazing job over the last two years in promoting the Nighthawks, and this year I think it’s going to be bigger than ever,” said Eyrich. “I’m really excited to play in front of the Vancouver crowd as they have been the loudest and most exuberant across the MLU. Playing in front of others brings a new energy to the game that is thrilling for us players.”
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