The student publication of Arapahoe Community College in Colorado

The Arapahoe Pinnacle

The student publication of Arapahoe Community College in Colorado

The Arapahoe Pinnacle

The student publication of Arapahoe Community College in Colorado

The Arapahoe Pinnacle

Meet the ACC Vespers

The Jugger Club enters its second season
Poster of ACC Vespers Jugger club

In the Australian-American movie “The Salute of the Jugger” (also known as “The Blood of Heroes” in the US), a brutally violent sport called Jugger captures post-apocalyptic America. Writer and director David Peoples created Jugger for the intent of his 1989 movie, but the sport has taken hold worldwide. It’s even hit Arapahoe Community College.

Jugger is a mixed (co-ed) contact sport in which two teams of five players, outfitted with padded spears, compete to grab a foam skull placed in the center of the field and bring it to the opponent’s jug without being sparred by the opposing team’s weapons. The sport consists of short interval sets or games, with each side having equal attack and defense time. Usually, the sets are as quick as one or two minutes, and the entire match takes about 10 minutes. 

Captain and co-founder of the college’s student club, the ACC Vespers, Ben Van Dellen compared it to some more commonly known sports. “As far as strategy goes, it’s like a combination between soccer and football,” Van Dellen explained. “But as far as actual gameplay goes, it’s a combination between rugby and fencing.”

The ACC Jugger Club is entering its second season and encouraging anyone interested to join the competitive fun. The sport Jugger certainly does not have as much violence as depicted in the 1989 film, and you are not expected to have a firm grasp on the rules. Captain Van Dellen has extra equipment for new club members and substantial knowledge of the sport to share. 

“Anybody can walk up to my field, and I’ll teach them how to play the game,” Van Dellen stated. “All I need from somebody is that they’ll sign the safety waiver and have an amount of interest, and then I’ll tell them everything.” 

According to The Colorado Jugger website, Jugger officially came to Colorado in 2013 with a small tournament between the Aurora Corvus and the Arvada Madness. The Colorado Jugger League hosted its first international tournament, the Mile High International, in 2015, and each year, the Mile High International (now called the Mile High Open) is usually in July or August.

The Colorado Jugger League has grown to eight teams, including the ACC Vespers. The Vespers practice every Saturday from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m. at the Miller Activity Complex in Castle Rock, and anyone is welcome to join.  

Gwenyth Mercer, the active president of the ACC Jugger Club, added, “We play on the patch of grass right next to the soccer fields that are across the lot from the incline.” 

The ACC Jugger Club has about eight members in its second year. The ACC Vespers have 12 members on the team, as you do not have to be a student or member of the club to join them on the playing field. Some players on the team are previous club members or students of another institution in the area. 

Jugger began gaining traction in Germany and Australia after its origin movie was released and spread initially around Europe. Jugger teams formed at German colleges and inspired an academy school for skilled players. The ACC Jugger club is on a similar path, and Colorado was among the first to adopt the sport in the United States. 

“The two oldest states are Colorado being the oldest and then Arizona being the second oldest, and then third from that is Northern California,” Van Dellen mentioned. “It’s really Colorado and Arizona that are the big ones.”

The ACC Jugger Club offers players a variety of involvement opportunities. There is practice every Saturday, ribbon tournaments, league days, and out-of-town tournaments.

Ribbon tournaments are more of a casual event where people mix and match different teams and play with friends. Full games are still played, so it is good practice in a fun environment. There are awards for different feats, but there’s no bracketed tournament.

There are five league days, and the ACC Vespers will host two in Castle Rock, the first on April 28. The Colorado Jugger League is a collection of teams on the Front Range of Colorado, and all teams participate in these league days. League days are on Sundays, and the format is a round-robin tournament with individual match results that will add to a season-long scoreboard.

The Vespers have and will travel to several out-of-town tournaments, usually at the beginning or end of the season to escape the cool Colorado weather for somewhere warmer. Earlier this year they traveled to Arizona and will also play in Northern California this year. 

The biggest tournament of the season is the national tournament where Jugger clubs from across the US come together for a large tournament. Many of the club members believe that this is the best and most enjoyable event of the season. This season, Denver is host to the National tournament, the Mile High Open, on July 21 and 22.

“You get a whole bunch of like 100 plus people from all over the country, a bunch of different playing styles, a whole bunch of people in different walks of life.” Van Dellen reflected on a previous trip to nationals. “We have like PhD students from Berkeley, you know, playing with like, all these old guys from Colorado. It’s pretty awesome.” 

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About the Contributor
Michael Price, Reporter
Michael Price (he/him) is currently obtaining his Associate of Arts with a concentration in Journalism. He is interested in pursuing a Bachelor's in Broadcast Journalism after ACC and hopes for a career in sports broadcasting production.
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