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Arkansas State Rugby Team Dedicates National Tournament Play to Program Founder Curt Huckaby


JONESBORO, Ark. — Recently, the founder of Arkansas State University’s men’s rugby program, Curt Huckaby, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

“The Arkansas State men’s rugby team will proudly display the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) awareness ribbon on team uniforms this weekend at the USA Rugby 7s National Championship Tournament,” said Matt Huckaby who is the Red Wolves’ head coach and the son of Curt. Creative Concepts donated the stitching of the ribbons.

“The guys had a discussion and wanted to raise awareness for ALS, in honor of my father Curt and the many people who suffer from this debilitating disease.”

Rugby Team with ALS ribbon
Members of Arkansas State University's rugby team display ALS awareness ribbons on their uniform sleeves. They are (from left) Dylan Carrion, Cody Crawford, Tito Chitanda, Zinzan Elan-Puttick, Shaun Potgieter, Connor Cook, Harry Higgins.

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to death.

When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

“Curt has meant so much in the lives of many young men involved with the team over the last decade, and we want him to know that we have his back the whole way,” continued Matt. “This is a great opportunity to raise awareness for ALS and the many people across northeast Arkansas and the country who are affected by it.

“Taking this into consideration, we humbly compete in this tournament for a cause much larger than our own.”

For more information about ALS and how to donate to the ALS Association, refer to two websites at http://www.alsa.org/about-als/ and http://alsa.pub30.convio.net/donate/.

The senior Huckaby served as the program’s only head coach for 14 years, all on a volunteer basis, before son Matt became the head coach. He left in 2010 with a record of 183-44-1, which includes a Division II record of 156-41 and a Division 1 mark of 27-3-1. His team successes include a Division II plate national championship in 2000, runner-up finishes in the Division II national championship in 2001, 2004 and 2006, Elite Eight finalist every season except one (2005) in the National Division II Championship. His teams were perennially ranked in the Top 25 collegiate teams across the nation.

Both sons, Matt and Curtis, played for their dad with Matt earning All-America honors twice and Curtis served as team captain for three years and was selected as honorable mention All-America.