Cal NERDs Aim Virtual Sights High

BERKELEY, CA – Unknown to most Berkeley students is the secret underground supercomputing facility hidden below the dining commons. Here, industrious computer science students are working around the clock to find the Pamela Anderson sex tapes and “kick a lot of ass at Warcraft,” as one bespectacled student remarked. The smell of Tang and unwashed plaid shirts wafts through the air, and the glasses are as thick as the pocket protectors.

One student is notable for his absence: the famed Arnold Cho, a sixteen year-old sophomore. Cho was instrumental in helping these programmers-to-be achieve last semester’s goal of “downloading a lot of porn.” Given his experience behind a keyboard and his complete inability to function in a social setting, Cho was the kind of seasoned veteran that this intrepid band of geeks was counting on to lead them to victory over Cal Tech and MIT in this years NERD (National Establishment of Role-playing Dorks) Tournament.

After sitting out last year’s post-season because of sanctions stemming from the near heart failure of a high school senior who met a cheerleader on a recruiting visit, these Bears were hungrily eyeing victory – and chips – this season. In the absence of Cho, a two-time winner of the Vice Presidential medal for woodenness, other social rejects are going to have to pick up the slack.

One such reject is Mike Lee, a personal friend of Cho’s who insists that rumors of tension between the EECS major and the squad’s coach were exaggerated. “Look, I’m not saying that Arnold and Coach Wang got along great, but those rumors about Arnold using his avatar to choke the coach’s avatar during virtual training camp are completely false.” Lee, called “Snork” by teammates because of his striking physical resemblance to one of the animated Smurf-knockoff sea creatures, claims that Cho’s abrupt resignation from the team was due to a desire to focus more time and energy on “whacking it.”

Still, sources close to the group insist that Lee was one of many players who had deep conflicts with Coach Johnny Wang. “Look, when you hire a guy who speaks Mandarin to direct a group of guys who speak primarily Cantonese, you’re just asking for trouble,” remarked Careem Abdul-Jabbar, the captain of the 1996 championship Cal squad, who, in an unprecedented move, converted to Islam before foregoing his senior year to go to work at Microsoft.

So amid swirling rumors of dissent, and under intense NERD scrutiny, the team will attempt to win back its title. The road ahead will not be easy, as defending champ MIT is planning to start four freshman that haven’t talked to a girl in their entire lives. The Cal squad is hoping that LaShon Richardson, a highly touted recruit from St. Joseph’s High School, will be the missing piece of the puzzle.

When asked about the team’s chances this year, Richardson told me: “Yo, this is whack! Coach Braun told me that even though the NCAA was reducing their basketball scholarships, he’d find a way to get me one. So I signed a letter of intent to come to Cal, and now look at me. The best damn point guard in Northern California, and I’m sitting on my ass playing video games with a bunch of Urkel clones!”

If he does make the squad, Richardson will be the first black gamer in NERD history. Team officials are confident that Richardson will complement returning second-team All-Americans Raymond “Flea Circus” Koo and Scott “Pentium” Morlan. This promises to be, if not an exciting or particularly pleasant-smelling season, a competitive one for the embattled Bears.