KILLEEN, TX — The pathway to collegiate athletics for Texas A&M University-Central Texas was identified on January 22nd, 2015, as the university announced plans to begin club sports in the fall starting with both men’s and women’s rugby. University President Marc A. Nigliazzo briefed an eager crowd that gathered for the announcement in the Bernie Beck Lecture Hall of Founder’s Hall, and highlighted moments in the short, but deeply rooted, community-based history of the institution.
“Here we are again. Gathered to announce yet another milestone in the history of our university,” explained Nigliazzo. “But this announcement is different. We have gathered to light the pathway to collegiate athletics for our Warrior Nation. And that pathway has been lit by the opportunity presented to us through rugby.”
As the President continued with his remarks, occasionally turning the rugby ball that he held in his hands, he described his initial conversation with Central Texas native Daniel Chase, who had a vision to bring rugby to the university. “I remember my first meeting with this passionate [and tall] man. The coach explained to me all of the advantages of having this growing sport on campus and in our community. It seemed like a natural fit!”
Nigliazzo wrapped-up his remarks and tossed the rugby ball to Dr. Tracy Teaff, the university’s Chief Liaison Officer, who has been instrumental bringing this program to life. “Having grown up as the daughter of a football coach, I’m well aware of the positive impact athletics can have. Rugby will bring so many opportunities for our Warrior community that go well beyond the game.”
The audience gave a warm reception, as Teaff introduced Chase as the university’s first Rugby Coach and Athletic Consultant, passing him the rugby ball. “It’s the one sport that’s so cohesive in unity, the only sport I really know, where you try to kill each other and then the home team comes out and feeds the visiting team,” Chase said. “Then you know what you do the next time you see each other? You’re best friends. Rugby’s such a tight-knit community.”
Chase has a rich history with the sport, dating back to his days in the Marine Corps. He plans to bring his extensive experience on the pitch and passion for his community together as he leads the Warrior teams into action this fall. Chase also knows first-hand the opportunities the sport presents in the recruitment of student athletics.
Also in attendance was Killeen Daily Herald journalist Courtney Griffin, who played rugby herself at the University of Texas at Austin. She noted that, “The “game of hooligans played by gentlemen” will be a no-cut, club sport at [Texas] A&M-Central Texas that competes in national tournaments.” The university will offer the opportunity for students at Central Texas College, Temple College, and other partnering institutions who are committed to attending A&M-Central Texas the ability to compete.
Chancellor John Sharp of The Texas A&M University System expressed his enthusiasm for this unique athletic pathway by stating, “Having been a rugby player as a student at Texas A&M University myself, I am excited to welcome rugby as a club sport at A&M-Central Texas.”
As the university moves forward with its plans to play its first home match this fall, training sessions, workshops, and exposition games are already being planned. For more information about this exciting new program, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.