Local youth rugby team exemplifies true sportsmanship

Stepping out to the dewy grass on the morning of Jan 22., the local Orca Rugby Youth Team joined together on the field to celebrate their family day event. They are set out with a goal that is less focused on winning a big game, and more on forming stronger bonds and simply having fun. While some are familiar with rugby, not many know how to play it, most likely due to the lack of the sport in the U.S. Hence, seeing a local youth rugby team is not especially common, a defining trait that makes the Orcas stand out.

According to Laurie Hanna, a parent volunteer, the team has demonstrated a strong bond that is unique to the sport. Hanna is a survivor of breast cancer, and the team came together when she needed support. “This company, this group, came together, and not only that, but they raised funds and donated for me to do the Komen Walk[an educational and fundraising event for breast cancer] in the name of our founding Treasury, who died of breast cancer two years ago,” Hanna said. 

Coach Steve Stone grew up with rugby and is now the head coach of the sport in the area years later. “If you’ve never seen it before, it’s chaotic, but there’s a lot of structure… It’s a team sport, so if someone’s weak in one area, someone’s stronger in the other area. They just play as a team, they train as a team, and that’s how we get them through. It’s just common sense to us,” Stone said. 

Gabby Muler, seventh grade, is a newer teammate on the Orca team. She has only been playing for a few months but has expressed that rugby is a good way to keep her focused and give her motivation to stay active. “It’s a fun sport once you get, like, into the groove of it. It’s really easy, it’s fun, it’s a good way to just make it interactive,” Muler said. 

Her brother, Mason Muler, junior, is also on the team and has a very similar view, “I mean, it’s fun. It’s a learning curve. And it’s not going to hurt if you don’t like it. Just something to do, something to try,” Mason Muler said. 

Nearly all of the players, coaches and volunteers hope that everyone gets the chance to enjoy the sport. “It’s a different philosophy. But no one’s yelling at the kids that ‘you were dumb’ and that ‘you didn’t do something right.’ It’s praising that you did something right… You eat together, and it builds friendships, and it builds camaraderie…That isn’t football, that isn’t baseball. That isn’t soccer, but that’s rugby,” Hanna said.