Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman Rugby beats Vandals, muscles out of last year’s slump

Team responds to Head Coach McAlvey’s challenge: ‘Give me a reason to get back into it’

At the end of last year, the Whitman Rugby team’s commitment level was at its lowest in the past decade, which resulted in less accountability for each player. They were coming off of a 3-7-1 record, and morale was low.

“That was probably the first year that we took a step backwards,” said Head Coach Eric McAlvey.

With kids at home and other things to do besides coaching, McAlvey challenged his team to ignite his interest in coaching once again or he wasn’t going to come back.

“You’ve got to give me a reason to get back into it,” he said.

The team has stepped up to their coach’s challenge to the point where McAlvey called this year’s team Whitman’s best in the last 12 years. Their success continued on Saturday, Oct. 20, when they pulled out a win over the University of Idaho Vandals, a much bigger team and school. That win puts the team’s record at 6-1 for the year, which includes the club’s first win ever on international soil during a four day tour of Canada where the team bonded together as a group of men sacrificing themselves for one another.

“It’s a hell of a time to be playing rugby right now,” said senior-leader Luke Decker.

The excitement has even spread to some of the player’s parents. At the game against the Vandals, a team of moms sold concessions and team paraphernalia in order to support their son’s team in spite of their natural inclinations to worry for their children’s health.

“It’s not a mother’s sport,” said Mindy Ferrell, mother to another senior-leader, Jack Ferrell.

In order to generate interest in rugby at the beginning of the year, McAlvey joined his club at the Whitman Activities Fair for the first time ever, bringing in 12 to 13 new players on this year’s roster.

“Coming into it everybody just pulled me in as a family member,” said junior transfer Gabe Kiefel who is one of those new players and who has instantly become one of the team’s best players, according to coach McAlvey.

Zach Lough, another newcomer, regrets not coming out to play earlier in his time at Whitman. This is his first year playing rugby, but also, regrettably, his final year at Whitman.

Several players also stressed how much they enjoyed the social aspect of the sport and how they’ve formed a brotherhood with their fellow teammates.

“Rugby’s become almost a bit of a counter-culture at Whitman. Whereas the school itself is concerned with studying hard and political correctness and whatnot, rugby’s a place where you can go be yourself and have a hell of a lot of fun doing it,” said junior Nat Jacob.

There were also repeated mentions of the team’s ability to party like true brethren. So much so that the coach denied to comment on any specifics of what has occurred during some of these events.

“We know how to kick it,” said Decker with supreme confidence.

For anybody who is still interested in participating in rugby, it is not to late to join.

“We’d love to have anybody who is even slightly interested in rugby come out and play with us,” said Decker.

Practices are from 4-5:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on Harper Joy Field.

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