Last Hurrah…

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Wasn’t it just last fall we were dropping Sam off at Bowdoin College for the first time and helping him settle into his freshman dorm room? Time sure does fly… just like that, and in what seems like the blink of an eye, he’s already almost halfway through his senior year. We have thoroughly enjoyed our weekend visits to Brunswick to see Sam and cheer his rugby team – they’ve come a long way as a team and a program over the past few years, with this fall season being one of the most successful in a long while. As a coach myself, I always appreciate seeing a group of young people coming together with a shared goal, so I was very proud to see Sam play an integral role in the evolution of the Bowdoin rugby program – both on the field and off.

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As the President of the club and a senior, he has provided strong leadership and organization off the field, and as a player he has consistently given his all. Sam knows that he can be proud of what he helped accomplish within this group, and that the recent foundation he and his classmates have built ensures that the rugby program at Bowdoin has a bright future. I’m glad that his last hurrah was with a group of guys that he has such a strong affinity with, and I’m glad that he got to experience what it feels like to be a part of a true team.

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Supporting the big brother

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We’ve had the good fortune of seeing quite a few of Sam’s Bowdoin College rugby games this season, and there’s no-one more excited about cheering for the Polar Bears than Jack. His big brother plays the game hard, and as you can see from the color of his uniform, he isn’t afraid to mix it up and get involved in the game. We’ll miss seeing Sam play in the spring – he’s heading overseas for a semester abroad – but we’re all eager for next fall to come around when he’ll be playing his senior season. Senior season!?! Wow… where does the time go!

Gentlemen playing a hooligan’s game…

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The title of this blog post describes the sport of rugby, and although the origin of the quote might be difficult to trace, if you were to watch a game in person, it wouldn’t be all that hard to understand why the game was described as such. Standing on the sideline close enough to hear the bone-crushing tackles, the normally secret sounds of the game, and the thunder of the traveling pack… that’s when you truly get a feel for the game. Between the lines, rugby is an incredibly physical and highly demanding team sport, one that requires a willingness to both give, and accept, a level of physical abuse that borders on barbarism… all in the name of stopping your opponent, gaining possession, and advancing the ball down the field.

As with most team sports, the concept is really quite basic… one ball, two teams each defending their own territory, and, within a given a set of rules, one team trying to get the ball into the area the other is defending. Sounds simple, eh? When the whistle blows, rugby players engage in what looks like a violent battle, apparently willing to rip each other apart to help their team win. Even as the carnage ensues though, traditionally there is still an air of honor and civility afforded the opponent. Like someone once said… gentlemen playing a hooligan’s (or thug’s) game.

In his youth, Sam played just about every sport, dabbling in soccer, basketball and even football, before he settled on baseball as his chosen sport. Growing up playing sports myself, and still coaching soccer today, I totally get the lessons to be learned and values to be shared by being part of a team, so when Sam arrived on campus at Bowdoin and embraced not only the sport of rugby, but also the group of guys he got to hang out with, we were very pleased for him. Most of us have an innate desire to belong, and as a parent seeing their child leave the house and take a step into a brand new world filled with strangers, we have been thankful for the welcome he has received from his rugby playing friends (and the Bowdoin College community in general). Being passionate about whatever you do in life is one of the most important traits any individual could have, and as we spent a bright, spring morning proudly watching Sam (#5) and his friends play rugby, it was very obvious how much this game – and his teammates – meant to him. Go Polar Bears!