Q: When did you start throwing and how did you get started?
A:I started throwing in September of 2015. I had been looking to get involved in something with a sense of community, and a friend of my wife’s suggested I get in touch with John Eccles. He was coaching a practice group in Ventura.
Q: What does “throw far, don’t suck!” mean to you?
A: It may sound boastful, but it’s actually a state of mind. “Throw Far” means just that. Throw it far, do your best, move the weight. “Don’t Suck” is more of a reference to sportsmanship. Don’t suck as a person. Don’t take the fun out of the sport. We all know those people. Those people suck.
Q: How has heavy athletics changed your life?
A: For the first time in my life, I actually embraced my size. I’ve been a Backpacker, Scuba Diver, and martial artist. But at 6’3″, 290lbs, I’ve always felt “too big” to participate fully. This carried over into the rest of my life. Thanks to my shoulders I don’t fit on certain roller coasters and flying coach is a nightmare for my seatmates. I’ve always felt like I’ve taken up too much room, that my size was a burden.
The Highland Games community showed me a world where I can come as I am, that my mass is worth something. Hell, compared to many of my throwers I’m not the Big Guy anymore! That acceptance of who I am has given me more confidence and sense of self than any other community before it.
Q: What is the significance behind the Unicorn logo and the colors?
A: The Zombie Unicorn is my take on the national animal of Scotland and the hot pink and zombie green aesthetic is my homage to SFV Roller Derby, the league my wife skated with for five years. The sense of family, community, and good natured counterculture that The Underlanders has carries a direct lineage from that girl gang of skaters. Everyone should check them out.
Q: I guess my first brush with the games was 2016 at seaside, would you say the underlanders were established in 2016?
A: I think I had just gotten started, or were planning to. You were one of the first to join.
Q: Where did the name come from?
A: All the practice groups were Highland or Highlander this, or heavy that. I wanted something that spoke to the non-traditional nature of the group in was trying to create. It’s also a nod to how the rest of Los Angeles views the San Fernando Valley. I was raised SFV, and we love a scrappy underdog.
Q: Describe highland games in one sentence.
A: Field Athletics, but make it weird with bagpipes and games your drunk neighbor invented.
Q: Describe each event in one sentence.
Hammers: Swing that sledge in the most dangerous way possible and then let go while you still can
Weights: Spin around with this cannonball on a chain and hope you can let it go and stay standing.
Weight over bar: Throw a 56# kettlebell with a loose handle over a jump bar with one hand.
Stones: Throw this heavy rock
Sheaf Toss: Hold my beer and watch me use a Pitchfork to yeet this 20# bail of twine over this high jump bar.
Caber Toss: Pick up a vertical telephone pole, then run with it before slamming on the brakes and flipping it end over end for accuracy.
Q: What would you really like someone who has no knowledge about highland athletics to know?
A: That ANYONE can participate. Yes, some of these things are heavy and dangerous. Yes, you’ll make an ass of yourself. But no matter how good you get at it, even the best fall over in the trig. The competitions on the field are amazing opportunity to see your friends and test your skills, but finding a group to practice with allows you to grow that skill, laugh at yourself, and scream into the void. You’d be surprised how much that can bring people together.