A-State Rugby Program Founder Curt Huckaby Dies
JONESBORO — Curt Huckaby, the founder of Arkansas State University’s successful and nationally ranked rugby program, died Tuesday, June 21. Huckaby also served as a Craighead County District Court judge and was an attorney. Arrangements have been announced by Emerson Funeral Home.
“Our deep condolences go to the Huckaby family. Curt Huckaby is a legend in collegiate rugby for his contributions to the sport and his dedication to the young men who play,” said Dr. Tim Hudson, chancellor at Arkansas State. “His work promoting and guiding the Arkansas State Rugby Club is well-known in our community, but he also served as an ambassador for the sport and the university across the Mid-South as a member of USA Rugby committees. He made a positive difference for lots of people and had the courage of his convictions. He will be greatly missed.”
In May, the A-State Board of Trustees approved the changing of the rugby playing field name to Curt Huckaby Field. Board members signed a resolution recognizing significant contributions by Huckaby to Arkansas State.
In 2014, former Life University coach Dan Payne approached Huckaby's son Matt about creating the Curt Huckaby Cup and the two teams playing for it each year. The winning team will keep the cup for a year until the two played each other again. Engraved on the cup are the words "Curt Huckaby Cup — Make a difference every day for as long as you can."
Huckaby served as the program’s only head coach for 14 years, all on a volunteer basis, before stepping down in 2010. At that time, his son Matt was named as the head coach, but Curt continued to help the program in recruiting, player development, marketing, donor development, fundraising and program advancement.
"Curt was a very kind and compassionate person," added Dr. Rick Striping, vice chancellor for Student Affairs. "He cared deeply about young people. This was evident by his development of a nationally and internationally known rugby team. He had a passion for the sport,but most importantly, the brotherhood that became a signature of Curt Huckaby. The players worked hard on and off the field developing character, nurtured and guided by a man who led by example. The comments seen on social media serve as a testament to Curt.
"Players,coaches and friends from the United States mourn in this loss. But his work was not confined to the U.S. borders. The rugby world of South Africa, New Zealand and Europe recognize the name Curt Huckaby. Arkansas State University has lost a great supporter, mentor to students and simply good friend to many."
The senior Huckaby ended his coaching career at A-State with a record of 183-44-1 that includes a Division II record of 156-41 and a Division 1 mark of 27-3-1.
Under Huckaby’s tutelage, 16 Red Wolf players, including Curt’s two sons Matt and Curtis, earned all-American honors in both 15s and 7s competition.
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, and 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.
Several years ago, Huckaby was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral schlerosis, known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.