Last year's Ultraman attendees. Credit: Flikr / Courtesy

Cal Poly’s Chinese Students’ Association, or CSA, hosted what they call their “hype-est” event of the year, Ultraman, at Pismo Beach on Oct. 7. Ultraman is an enormous competition where eight teams, or families, vie for the ultimate crown, the Ultraman trophy, and “bragging rights” for the rest of the year. 

Ultraman participants are randomly sorted into one of the eight families, which they will compete in for in the tournament. This year, the eight families are Yip, Chin, Funline, Hüynners (pronounced “hwinners”), Ballin’, Ohana, RRR (triple R) and the Mahjong Mafia. The Yip family were last year’s Ultraman champions, while Mahjong Mafia are the newest addition to the collection of CSA families.  Each team has its own color, which is denoted by their T-shirts. 

Despite the huge fanfare surrounding the event, the Ultraman competition is far from a new tradition for CSA.

“I found out through CSA scrapbooks we make every year [that] Ultraman has been going on since the 1990s,” Veronika Ventura, a nutrition science junior and CSA co-president, said.

Every year since the event’s creation, CSA has been heading out to Pismo to compete in “Olympic-style” games. Despite its extensive history, the Ultraman tradition is very much alive and well, and is set to be the most attended event of the year for Cal Poly’s biggest cultural club. 

CSA itself dates back even further, as it was created in the 1950s by a Chinese student at Cal Poly, according to Ventura.

As a predominantly white institution, some students believe that many of Cal Poly’s diversity and inclusion efforts come from student-run clubs like CSA, and events such as Ultraman provide a much-needed experience for diverse students to feel welcomed and create community.

“[Ultraman is] a great bonding experience for cultural minorities,” Ventura said. “But it’s open to everyone here at Cal Poly.” 

As the club’s most anticipated annual event, which has racked up massive numbers of participants in previous years, preparation is extensive. 

“Our social chairs take care of Ultraman, and they usually start planning around the summer,” Ventura said. “They plan all the games, make all the rules, and every year it’s different, since we pick a new board each year. Sometimes they even create their own games from scratch.” 

One of the club’s social chairs, Vince Doan, a computer engineering sophomore, is in charge of organization. Last year he was a participant, and in addition to having a great time playing all the games, he formed relationships at Ultraman that he still values to this day. 

“I needed an outlet to meet new people,” he said.

Shortly after, he joined CSA’s big-little program where he met mentors and made some of his closest friends.

Ultraman games differ every year since the organizational board is changed annually. However, the activities are far from traditional games and sports, and often contain a fun and exciting twist. Last year, one of the games played was water balloon dodgeball, which Doan called his favorite. 

To learn more about Ultraman and Chinese Students’ Association, follow @calpolycsa on Instagram.