Spring Recap, Looking Ahead

On April 28, the annual Alumni game was held. The Alumni team, which was mixed with a few current senior players, defeated the A side 54-28. It was a great day of wide open, running rugby.

Moving forward, the spring season has concluded. The new team captains, Mike McGoldrick and Alex Erickson have been tasked with organizing summer workouts by head coach Scheepers. This includes registering for various 7′s rugby tournaments throughout the summer and also planning a week of pre-season workouts in late August.

Last season, during the 3rd week in August, 12 members of the team met up at Pulaski Park in Poughkeepsie for a week of preseason conditioning. Most of the attendees were senior players, and this year the team looks to include more lower classmen. Events like this are crucial for attaining proper fitness levels and also building team camaraderie.

In terms of playing rugby during the summer months, the Red Foxes will be joining various clubs near their homes this summer. The Long Island Rugby club and the White Plains Rugby Club (which serves Westchester and Connecticut residents) will be the two clubs that members of the Marist squad will be playing for.

In summers past, Shane Kelly has played for White Plains while Chris Conroy and Tim Akins were active members of the Long Island Rugby Club.

The team has made great strides in learning the game, becoming better players, as well as growing in size. After a successful spring, the team looks to continue its tradition of winning, as they begin their first season in the Tri-State Rugby Conference in Fall 2012.

Notes: With his three tries in the alumni match, Tim Akins has 30 total for his career. That figure is the most of any players of the same four-year stretch (08-12)

Men’s Team Selects New Captains

The team has selected new captains for the upcoming 2012 fall season. Captains Phil Terringo, and Chris Conroy are both graduating seniors, and will pass the torch to two viable candidates.

New head team captain is soon to be Junior, Mike Mcgoldrick.

New 
Co-Captain is soon to be senior, Alex Erickson.

Alternate-Captains; Shane Falco, and Pat Curry.

Marist Moving to the Tri-State Rugby Conference

In the upcoming Fall 2012 season, the Marist Rugby Club will be changing their division, and continuing the path to becoming part of a division two conference.

In a recent league meeting, Tony Brown, the Senior Physical Education Lecturer for Vassar College, as well head coach for the Vassar College men’s’ and women’s’ rugby club, informed the teams in the METNY conference that they would be joining the Tri-State Conference Rugby League in the Fall of 2012. Montclair state UN

The new conference is made up of former METNY division two club teams, as well as newly joined teams such as Malloy College, and Montclair State University. The conference is an opportunity for Marist to compete against upper tier competition, and help grow into a stronger club. By entering, Marist will be able to compete for the USA National Rugby Championship games, as they will compete with schools from New Jersey, Conneticut, and New York in the play offs.

The team is excited and poised for a great first year in the new conference, led by head coach Willie Scheepers, and newly named captains Alex Erickson(Senior), and Mike McGoldrick(Junior).

Marist Rugby in the Community: The Polar Plunge

The Marist Men’s Rugby squad may just be a club organization, but that does not prevent them from taking an active part in the community.

For the past four years the team has been raising money for the New York Special Olympic Games. The games are held throughout New York, and have multiple events in the Hudson Valley during the year to help fundraise the games. Just this past year the Men’s Rugby team, as well as the Men’s Crew team took part in an event that raised over $121,700 for the cause.

To help raise that money, each player on the team was willing to put on their bathing suits,  apply their sunscreen, and plunge into the waters of the Sharpe Reservation in Peekskill. The only obstacle the players came across was shoveling the snow off their cars, and watching out for ice on the road. The event of course was held in February, and is called the “Polar Plunge.”

“When you get to the edge, and you see all the snow and ice around you, your body and mind are in shock about what you are about to do. But once your body hits the water, it is just a whole other level of cold,” laughed senior wing Tim Aikins. Tim has taken the Polar Plunge for the past three years, and said it gets better each time. “Yeah it is a crazy thing to do,” said Tim. “But when you realize your doing it for such a great cause, the weather and temperature mean nothing. We are just happy to help.”

The Hudson Valley Polar Plunge has been running for the past 14 years. The event is one of many that help create the funds to not only host the New York Special Olympics, but offer free entry to the participants. It costs approximately $400 to sponsor one Olympic athlete, and with the event raising over $121,700, the event managed to put up about 304 happy athletes.

Senior James Cronin has also taken the plunge for three straight years, and stated that this was one of the highest numbers since he has been on the team. “This year was really great. We constantly are progressing as a team, on and off the field, and we love being active in the community.”

The club team is always looking to increase its activity on the campus, and in the community. The team will continue to plunge, no matter how cold the water is.

If you are looking to help donate to the New York Special Olympics, or attend one of the events near you, click the link to the official NYSO site.

The art of the Nickname

When watching a Marist Club Rugby match, it is not uncommon for bystanders to notice that the names listed on the official roster, are not the ones they may hear being yelled on the field.

Webster’s Dictionary states that a nickname is, “A descriptive name added to or replacing the actual name of a person, place, or thing.” The nickname is a label placed on an individual, usually by a friend, that symbolizes something they do well, something comical that happened to that person, or something that just “sticks.”

In rugby, close to all athletes will tell you they got their nickname while playing, and that the name never left. Former player Nick White claimed, “I got the name weasel because on the field the older players said I moved and cut fast like a weasel. And it’s funny because now that I’m done playing, the name is still there, and my other friends have taken a liking to it to.” Another former player Brian Maher, got his nickname “Smiles,” due to the fact that he can never stop smiling. “It is interesting how you have kids with names that reflect their play, and then you have kids with names that just fit their personality. The older players felt it was necessary to give me the name smiles,” stated Brian.

To an outsider, seeing 40 different players with individual nicknames might seem out of control, yet in rugby this is normal. A rugby team needs camaraderie more than any other talent or skill. To successfully move the ball down field in a rugby match, everyone needs to pull their own weight, and needs to be able to trust the person besides them.

A team filled with nicknames and bonding, is the essential proof that they are clicking on all cylinders. Captain Phil Terrigno said that the best part of getting nicknames, is that it usually comes from an upperclassman and is almost a sign of acceptance to the family. “Nicknames on a rugby team are usually created by an upperclassmen, and given to a lowerclassmen or a new guy on the team. When I got mine as a freshman, it was fun and it made me feel like I was part of the friendship that goes into a rugby team,” said Phil.

Even in the professional leagues, rugby athletes, as well as teams have their own nicknames. America’s rugby team is called the “Eagles,” and the Argentinians are called the “Pumas.” Nicknames are just part of the sport, no matter what level.

Here is a list of some names you may hear down on the field next time you catch a match.

Tim Akins is called “Merc,” as in the title to the Queens song Mercury, due to the fact in his freshman year he sang the song at karaoke with so much passion the team had to name him it. Alex Erickson is known as “UFC,” for freshman year he out wrestled the upperclassmen, and they felt his ability to fight deemed him that crown. Andrew O’Connor got his name “Bum Bum,” simply because he resembles another player by the name of Tum Tum. The names go on, and the meanings get more unique. The best part of the nickname is it stays with you throughout your life, and it will always be there to remind you of your days playing on the field.

 

Coach Willie “Skips” Scheepers, the man Behind the Red Foxes

During the fall 2010 semester, the Marist Men’s Rugby team was struggling to stay above 500, and finished the season with a 4-3 record. For the past three years they had seen their team slowly improve in size, strength, and athleticism, yet they could not find consistent leadership throughout the season, a must for a Rugby team.

One key to the lack of leadership was the absence of a veteran coach, who had the experience and pedigree needed to guide a team. At the time, the team was being coached by Senior James Miley, who acted as player/coach, and years before that the team had similar situations where seniors ran the team. Although their effort and desire to win was there, the lack of true leadership posed a major obstacle for them to right the ship, and they needed help.

As the spring 2011 season was beginning to get underway, the team was informed that they had found a coach who volunteered to be their leader, and work with them.

Whilhelmus Scheepers, or better known as Willie Skips, is a South African native who took the role as Marist Men’s Club Rugby head coach, and instantly changed the demeanor of the team. “Coach Skips has been an enormous asset to our team,” captain Phil Terrigno said. “Our program could not have come this far without his commitment and knowledge of the game.”

In his first semester with the team, Skips and the Red Foxes only managed to win one match, yet the record did not correlate to how the team was improving. With the team depleted due to a majority of its upperclassmen studying abroad, it was not at full strength physically, yet Skips voice had been becoming more of a force.

After a full offseason under coach Skips, the team was finally ready to display a competitive season. Led by Coach Skips, the team surged to a 6-1 record, and made it to the final four in the Metropolitan New York (METNY) Division. In only his second semester with the team, Skips had guided Marist to its best season since 1998, when the club team went undefeated. Willie Skips was the real deal.

Skips himself began playing Rugby at the age of seven, and stated “Rugby was everything to me,” and that it followed him throughout his life. As a teenager he enlisted in the military service and without hesitation joined his units Rugby squad. Later on in life he found himself working as a police officer in South Africa, where he too was part of his units Rugby squad. After a quick stint in the Middle East working for a private security company, Skips made his way to North America, landing in Canada where he joined a Canadian Rugby Club league.

Finally making it to the states, Skips was hired as a K-9 unit specialist at the United Nations in New York City. He initially lived in Queens, but claimed the traffic and chaos of the city was too much for him to handle and decided to make his way to Wappingers Falls, which was great news for Marist.

Yearning to get back into Rugby, Skips noticed an open coaching position at Marist College through a Rugby newsletter, and decided he could help the team. “Marist has truly impressed me. The kids are always willing to listen and learn. They work hard and it pays off,” said skips. He was adamant about giving credit to his team as well as all students involved in club sports, claiming they put in the time and effort that most division one scholarship athletes do, even though they may not get the same royalties.

Skips also loved what he saw from his players on and off the field. Besides the willingness to listen to his knowledge and play with discipline and heart on the field, the team bonded like brothers off the field. Skips said “What I love about Rugby is that you can always find a role on the team, there is always a spot for you.” He highlighted the camaraderie between the upper and lower classmen, that he says is a pleasure to watch develop and evolve.

The players have praised the arrival of their new coach, saying he has been the anchor to their team, and the driving force to their recent success. “The fact that he works in Manhattan at the United Nations, and lives in Wappingers Falls, he has to travel very far to work with us three times a week and we appreciate it deeply,” said Forward James Cronin.

Willie Skips has lived and worked in two continents, played for over five different Rugby Club Leagues, works as a K-9 specialist for the United Nations, and coaches the Marist Men’s Rugby Club team for Marist College. The team and the school are lucky to have him, and he says he is lucky to have them to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marist vrs Kings Point Recap

April 14, 2012

Final-Kings Point 48 Marist 32
This match marked the final home game for seniors Phil Terrigno, James Cronin, Tim Akins, Chris Conroy, Mark Spinelli, Jomar Benoit and Ben Drumm.

James Cronin, a vocal leader for the team on and off the field, called the game, “Emotional,” but also said it was rewarding to see how far the team has come since he first started as a freshman in 2008.

Although Marist scored the first try of the contest just 10 minutes into the match, Kings Point was able to constantly deliver clean balls to their huge inside center, who scored four tries on the day. Marist pulled to within seven points at the half but never really threatened in the back and forth affair.

Tries were scored by Ben Drumm, Chris Conroy, and Shane Kelly. Two conversion kicks as well as one penalty kick were made by Mike McGoldrick.

In the team huddle after the match, head coach Skips told the team that he was extremely pleased with his side’s effort. Aside from a few missed tackles which led to several tries, the team did not display and glaring errors in its play. It is important to note that Kings Point is a Division 1 team that competes in the Empire Rugby Conference.

The annual Marist Alumni Rugby game will take place on Saturday, April 28th at the Gartland North Field.

The Red Foxes have a tentative game scheduled for Friday, April 20 at William Paterson University in Paterson, N.J. The game has not been officially scheduled due to transportation concerns.

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