By Alexander Foy
Sports & Opinion Editor
When I packed for college, my plan was to bring my books and leave my workout gear but after a few days on campus I bumped into Bhuttu Mathews, the coach of the rugby team, and those plans changed.
I accepted Mathews’ invitation to attend an information session about the club. At the meeting, the coaches and team emphasised the brotherhood that encompasses rugby and the team at St. Michael’s. This was appealing to me since that was one of the main reasons that I enjoyed wrestling.
After the meeting, I was hooked. I started to fill out the forms so I could play. The upperclassmen on the team walked me through the process and offered to answer any questions I had about the forms. This support was invaluable as I was already bogged down with school work.
If I never took a step into the unknown, I wouldn’t have found this bond that eased my transition to college.
“What happens outside of the classroom is such an opportunity for students to continue to learn about oneself, how to interact with those around them and also how to hone in on personal passions and interests,” said Dawn Ellinwood, vice president for student affairs.
After I filled out my forms and purchased the necessary equipment, it was time for my first practice. I was nervous about going, since I knew nothing about the sport. To my surprise, I wasn’t the only one who felt outside of their comfort zone. A few upperclassmen confessed that they didn’t understand the game completely until their second season.
My team members explained the rules and encouraged me that the game will make more sense with time. This continual support made me feel welcomed, and cemented my newfound sense of belonging here. I started to view practice as a chance to escape class and learn rugby instead of feeling embarrassed for not knowing as much as the other players.
I was invited to the pregame ritual of pasta dinner night and spent time with my teammates outside of rugby. After the dinner I felt more connected and less like an outsider.
My first game action was towards the end of our first match. I was still unsure of how to play my position, but my teammates helped me figure it out.
The coaching staff asked about my experience playing for the first time. Despite my short time playing, I explained how much I enjoyed it and couldn’t wait to play again. I was glad the coaches showed interest in my experience.
As I attended practices and spent more time with the team, I learned that some of our players were involved in other campus organizations. Some of them reached out and offered to help me get involved. Without realizing it, I became a member of the rugby brotherhood.
As the season came to an end, the team conducted a naming ritual where each new player was given a nickname. After receiving a new name, we were assigned an upperclassman to be our “big brother.” With that, we became a part of the rugby brotherhood.
Looking back on my experience on the rugby team I can not help but laugh. If I stuck to my initial plan, I would have never formed the friendships I did. I am glad that I deviated from that plan and am looking forward to continuing rugby throughout my college career.
So, how will you scrap your plans and walk outside your comfort zone?