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Beast Performances IV

Team Canada

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Team Canada Beast Performances – Morgan Hibbert 8

Morgan Hibbert has been a hard-working student — both of the game and of school  — for the last 10 years. From the time he was 18 years old he has wanted to be at the top of the game in Canada and the world. Once he had been a captain of UBC for 2004 – 2006 (a golden period for Morgan, during which he won CUUC, CUC, UPAC, and WUCC titles), he knew he wanted to be the captain of Furious George.  He knew it would take time to hone the necessary skills, but he determinedly decided that’s where he would end up. Captains for the Furious ‘junta’ are elected every year, and it was surprising when Morgan put his name forward for consideration in 2007, as he was still quite new to the team.  He frankly proclaimed that he would be there someday anyway, so he might as well start now. Fair enough.

Morgan modelled his game after the stars before him, Mike Grant and Andrew Lugsdin, dominant leaders and aggressive offensive lane-cutters. He worked tirelessly on the skills that they had and he didn’t, and really earnestly tried to get rid of that “bambi-on-ice” running stride he had had throughout his youth.

By 2009, Morgan was one of the lead captains of Furious, an alternate for the World Games team, getting close to reaching the position he sought by grinding it out in the gym, the track and the field for close to ten years.

After undergoing a massive turnover on the team, by 2010, Furious had overhauled itself, was regaining its momentum and was poised to retake its role as a perennial USAU nationals participant.  Then, at NW Regionals, Morgan broke his right wrist. Following the example of his predecessors like Marc Roberts, he hid the injury, played through it, even caaught the game-winning goal to send the Monkey back to the show.  The wrist, of course, was still broken and required a cast.  Morgan cut it off short to play in Florida.

Morgan Hibbert at USAUC 2010

Now, cutting off a cast and catching game-winners is pretty badass, and somewhat noteworthy additions to the tough-guy resume of machismo that straddle divisions of good judgment, but not beastly.  He made sacrifices he felt were important for the team, but he didn’t know at the time the cost.  Returning to Canada after a disappointing result in Florida Morgan discovered his wrist was in a bad way.  He had caused himself irreparable long-term damage, and throwing right-handed would not be an option for at least the next year or two.

Perfect.

Well, the goal for 2011 was to win Canadian Nationals and represent Canada, and the main issue for the matchup was John Hassell. It was thought if Hassell’s impact could be mitigated then we would probably win. Morgan set out in January to be the best defender on the team, to put himself in the position where he would decide the game from the defensive line.

In that game, Furious played man defence every single point, and Morgan covered Hassell every single one of those.  Hassell certainly got his, as all great players do, but Morgans constant pressure paid off down the stretch. Late in the game, as the Monkey mounted a comeback surge Andy Collins lofted a high, arching, ballistic huck to Morgan.  Furious was down 12-13 in a game to 14, with this disc stalling, dropping like Icarus out of the sun, and there was Morgan, with Hassell on the inside, leaping up half-turned with his cast-embalmed arm awkwardly swinging out and his left hand reaching up in prayer.  He made the catch that every camera in the stadium had focused in for.

 

He had put the team on his back, and nutted up when every excuse and reasonable allowance afforded him an honourable surrender. He decided to be the focal point of the game and he rose to the challenge, and the knife-edge balance was tipped by this most public contribution. Hassell gave Morgan the toaster trophy after the game, which is in my mind the best MVP system in all of sports, and Morgan received the Canadian award for male athlete of the year, a lot of which was a result from the compelling performance.

 

Alex Davis

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