Eugene’s Legacy: Building Bonds (and Bumping Balls) Beyond the Fishbowl

Have you ever wondered about the team with the quirky name “Eugene’s Angels” or “Eugene’s Bitties” in our volleyball leagues? Perhaps you’ve seen them sporting t-shirts with a fish playing volleyball and pondered, “Who is Eugene?” Well, today, we’re here to unravel the unique story of the Eugene volleyball team. They’re more than just a team; they’re a group of friends who have found a way to make our leagues more fun and memorable.

Meet the Fish Fanatics:

The majority of the Eugene team members met in 2014-2015 while working together at Regal Independence 10, a somewhat notorious movie theater near Chapel Hill Mall that often begged the question, “How are they still open?” Despite the theater’s state, it was at this unlikely workplace that their journey began.

The Eugene Legacy:

On February 28th, 2016, an office betta fish named Eugene joined the team. He swam with them until his departure from this earth on December 8th, 2017. Eugene was no ordinary fish; he was subject to an unprecedented amount of controversy from other local Regals who deemed him an “unprofessional” addition to a theater with an already less than stellar reputation. Noah, a team member, was working when Eugene passed and even took on the solemn task of burying him behind the theater, marking his grave with a popsicle stick. However, Noah’s attempt to show the team the exact location of Eugene’s remains led to a mystery that endures to this day.

The Legendary Eugene:

Eugene became more than just a fish; he became an idea, a symbol of their friendship, and all the insane things they experienced during their time together at Regal. He was a mascot of sorts, a reminder that this group of friends would never let anything go, delighting in the nostalgia of something oddly specific that nobody else in the world cared about.

Q&A with the Eugene Team:

Were you all friends before volleyball? Did you meet any new people that became teammates of yours?

Michelle: Most of the team (Paige, Madi, Matt, and myself, as well as Noah who recently moved states) did know each other from the theater. I had heard about the league from a friend and rallied the old crew. However, we’ve had a few variations over the past few seasons. Grace was a high school friend of Madi’s, and then currently we also have Nick and Chad, who we were lucky enough to meet through Summit Sports & Social. Even though they never met Eugene, they’re equally committed to the brand/movement/bit.”

What have been some of the team names you have created to honor him? which one is each teammate’s favorite?

Michelle: “I’ll never forget when we were new to the Summit Sports and Social scene. Our first team name was “Eugene’s Angels” and during our next session we made the switch up to “Eugene’s Bitties”. Logan and Andrew came up to us with the very same question “Who is Eugene??”. They explained that they figured it was a team to honor a kid that had died or something like that, but then the next season we were sporting t-shirts of a fish with volleyball bitties, which left more questions than answers. We tend to slightly change the name every session, usually to something relevant to our friend group at the time. Right now, we’re really loving “Eugene Died in 2017” because it’s both informative and thought-provoking.”

Have you created any other t-shirts or swag that ties in with the “Eugene Brand”?

Michelle: We try to put out a new set of designs every summer and winter session. Some of our favorites include the classic crewneck (subtle, but effective), Eugene is a state of mind, and the EugenexPride collab, because of course, Eugene was an ally!”

What is your favorite part of our leagues? Do any highlights come to mind?

Michelle: “Our favorite part of the leagues is having an excuse to hang out with each other at least twice a week. We also love the community and getting to know the other teams. It’s been great to see teams we started with in 2021 climb up divisions alongside us and develop new sets of rivals each season. Contrary to popular opinion, our team loves playing in the rain. One of our favorite memories is playing during a monsoon in 2021 which had us feeling like we were living the Twilight baseball scene. Another cool thing that happened is Subaru sponsored us one time! Halloween last year is also certainly a favorite of ours. We had the idea to dress up in matching fish costumes to honor Eugene’s Legacy. The best part was still winning a match while in these monstrous suits. Stay tuned because we’re already planning our fits for this year.”

The Eugene volleyball teams are more than just a group of excellent players; they’re a testament to the power of friendship, shared nostalgia, and finding joy in the quirkiest of places. Through rain and sunshine, they’ve made the volleyball league a better place for all of us. So, the next time you see “Eugene’s Angels” or “Eugene’s Bitties” on the court, you’ll know the fishy tale behind their name and the fun-loving spirit that defines them. 

Many thanks to Michelle and the rest of the Eugene squad who helped us tell their story. 

Do you have a unique team story or a favorite league memory you’d like to share? We invite all teams in our league to join the conversation and let’s make our community even stronger. Share your stories, your camaraderie, and your love for the game. Together, we’ll keep the spirit of Eugene alive!