The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Flag football team strengthens friendship on, off field

By John Harden/sports editor

Founded on old high school friendships, family and a love for football, the SE Campus flag football team AK attributes its success to tight friendships.

AK competed in TCC’s intercampus flag football tournament last semester and dominated the competition going undefeated.

What’s unique about AK is that the players all share the same ethnicity — Vietnamese.

Standing out from the other teams with their black and red jerseys and relaxed demeanor, many of the teams underestimated the AK’s talent.

“When we first got there, all the other teams looked down on us,” Kevin Tran said. “They didn’t think we were nothing. All they did was talk smack.”

Unlike the other teams that participated, these guys aren’t amateurs.

“I think as a team we’ve played a lot of better teams,” Quang Nguyen said. “But, really, their competition wasn’t really any competition to us.”

Each week as they strengthen their game, they also strengthen the bonds that link them closer together.

“It’s the ties we have,” Kevin Tran said. “Not just inside football but also outside football. A lot of us are family, and pretty much, we treat everyone like family.”

Family played a role in the team’s formation. Two pairs of brothers share a place on the team’s roster — Dung Nguyen and younger brother Dat Nguyen, and Vu Van and his younger brother Joe Tran. 

Flag football brought this group of guys together, and even off the field, they share the good chemistry they formed on the field.

“Whatever we do, we do as a team. We party together, we eat together, but we just don’t sleep together,” Joe Tran said with a laugh.

AK has participated in various tournaments outside of school, including the Grand Prairie flag football league and the Asian Olympics.

Last year, AK lost in the semifinals of the Asian Olympics flag football tournament.

Currently, the team is training to return to the games this month to improve on its previous performance.

“To be honest, I want to win,” Dung Nguyen said. “I want to do it for my team. I want to achieve the impossible. That’s what motivates me.”

The team trains together every week improving on its performances and pushing each other to the limit. Just being “good” isn’t enough for AK. Team members strive to always be the best team on the field.

“To me, in my mindset, I believe there’s always room for improvement,” Kevin Tran said. “If you’re fast, you can get faster. If you’re strong, you can get stronger.”

They said the main obstacle that hinders the team’s performance comes from anger and frustration. 

“We try to improve. If one person doesn’t perform well, then the whole team doesn’t perform well,” Quang Nguyen said. “So far the thing that keeps us from winning is anger. I think we all have some anger-management problems.”

Younger AK members look toward the older members for direction.

Vu Van, 25, is the oldest member, and sets the adult example for his younger teammates.

“I’m like the oldest brother. So I try to hold my composure when out on the field, and I never let anything get me down,” he said.

“Some of them get hot-headed and emotional sometimes, and I try to set an example that they can follow to teach them from making mistakes.”

Playing together for more than three years, the members of AK continue to show dedication and passion on the field that reflects their friendships off.

Q & A: Dung Nguyen, captain of the SE Campus sports team AK, answers questions about his team.

What does AK stand for?

Dung Nguyen: It can stand for anything you want, like “always krunk,” “always known,” “always kool,” but we just let people determine it for themselves.  We like to play poker and originally AK came from us playing poker. Ace and Kings.

Do other teams look down on your team frequently?  

Nguyen: It’s not that they look down on us. It’s more that they underestimate us. Yeah, look at our size. We have no one over 5’10” or 6 feet, you know? But we play with what we have.

At the Asian Olympics, are other teams more diverse than yours?

Dung Nguyen: At the Olympics, teams only need at least one Asian on the team. Mostly we’re the only one that’s predominantly Asian. The other teams are more diverse with at least one or two Asians on a team.

What has kept AK together through all the years?

Dung Nguyen: We’re a special team and just want to keep playing, you know? We’re a group of guys that want to stand out at tournaments. When people or other teams see our jerseys, we want them to know who we are. 

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