By: Christopher Walsh
The Sacred Heart X-Men rugby team has spent some of their time doing community service by volunteering with the Horizons Program. They’ve been assisting elementary school children who are learning how to read.
According to the Horizons Program at Sacred Heart website, the program is a non-profit academic improvement organization that’s dedicated to helping low-income Bridgeport students.
“The Horizons Program was a tremendous opportunity and I feel like I got more out of it than the kids,” said junior John Flanigan.
Flanigan said that his biggest takeaway from working with the Horizons Program was the team’s ability to work together on something other than rugby.
“Waking up every Saturday was a bit tough, but leaving there knowing that I made a difference on at least one kid’s life and seeing the kids progress each week made it all worth it,” said Flanigan. “One thing about this team is that we’re more than just a team, we’re a band of brothers.”
Volunteering is important to the team and it’s a belief that’s instilled in the team by head coach Ray Peterson. Giving back to the community by helping children has taught the team that there is more to life than they may realize.
“Community service to me is important because to get involved in that stuff opens your eyes to different communities and different things that are going on that you might not be aware of at that time,” said sophomore Jack Connelly.
Along with volunteering, the team also hosted their Ruggerfest fundraiser in the University Commons (UC) auditorium on March 24.
There, they had different types of beer for everyone in attendance to sample and many different raffle prizes. All of the proceeds helped the team raise money for dues and planning a trip to Ireland in the spring.
“The Ruggerfest was a success, we raised a little over $10,000, and it goes to both the players for dues and for the needs of the team, travel expenses and uniforms,” said Peterson.
On Saturday, April 14, the team played in their first and only tournament of the spring season. They competed at the Beast of the East Tournament in Portsmouth, R.I.
Many of the top rugby teams from the east coast gather at the Beast of the East.
“Beast of the East is important for all teams across the east coast. Every team comes here to play in this tournament. The team goal is to win it every single year, it’s what we want to do every single year, ‘Win Beast, win Beast.’ That’s what coach tells us before we even start practice in the spring,” said Connelly.
The X-Men competed against Fairfield University but ultimately lost.
As the team continues to develop, they hope to continue to prove and show that they are one of the best rugby teams not only on the east coast, but in the entire country, as they continue to add more players.
“Right now as a team, we are trying to prepare them (new players) and ourselves as much as possible so that when the fall comes, we are ready to compete in our new conference,” said Flanigan.
The team will play at Yale University on Wednesday, April 18. After that, they’ll take on the University of Connecticut (UCONN) and the United States Coast Guard Academy (USGCA), on Sunday, April 22.