By Victoria Mescall
On Sunday, Feb. 12 the Sacred Heart women’s rugby team will participate the second annual National Legacy Group sponsored Rugger Plunge, benefitting a local nonprofit rugby club, the Hartford Wanderers.
The event is a fundraising competition between Sacred Heart’s Division 1 women’s rugby team and the University of New Haven’s women’s club rugby team. Donations are given in lieu of the promise of the athletes jumping into the ocean in February for a cause.
“We want to be their biggest fans on and off the field, and we hope they are our biggest fans in return,” said Sacred Heart alumna Kelly Andersen, Marketing Director for National Legacy Group.
The National Legacy Group (NLG) challenges these women to support a philanthropic effort in their community while forging a partnership that allows them to educate college athletes about financial literacy.
The link between rugby and finances is a unique one. Last year, Sacred Heart’s women’s rugby transitioned from the club team named Queens of Heart Rugby, and gained Division I status as they built their program from the ground up. NLG began their partnership with the program during this time, allowing both organizations to grow simultaneously.
From the corporate side, NLG works with the team by teaching financial literacy. The group helps by developing skills like how to manage a check book, how to get good credit and how to be financially stable after graduation.
“It’s life skills such as even if you move back in with your parents after graduation, learning to put away the equivalent of a rent check every month to build up your savings,” said Andersen.
The team that fundraises the most for this year’s nonprofit, the Hartford Wanderers, wins an item off their wish list from NLG. The coaches and the sponsors at NLG worked together to determine a wish list for each team. Items on the list range from new equipment to a team trip.
Last year Sacred Heart won the fundraising contest and received a new practice machine. The goal is to continue that winning streak in beating the University of New Haven’s team in this friendly competition.
“I think it is something more companies should do,” said freshman Lauren Lyver, NLG social media and marketing intern. “I would love to continue being involved with this company and this great event supporting my school’s team in the future.”
At the first annual Rugger Plunge last year, there were over eighty guests at the event, and approximately forty people participating in the plunge for the cause. This year they plan to have over a hundred guests, and hope to beat last year’s fundraising success of $3,000.
The plunge’s fundraising site said, “All are welcome to come to the Rugger Plunge because we are all going to be ‘Freezin’ For A Reason!’”
The Rugger Plunge will take place at Penfield Beach in Fairfield, Conn. The event will feature a DJ, a food truck from Colony Pizza, purchasable merchandise, and many running into the frigid ocean for the cause.
According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, the average water temperature of the Northern Atlantic Coast of Connecticut is 36 degrees Fahrenheit in February.
The plunge into the ocean starts at 12 p.m., but guests are welcome to arrive at the event site starting at 11 a.m. Donations will be accepted online, through the payment app Venmo, and in person on the day of the plunge.
“Sacred Heart pride runs deep,” said Andersen. “When SHU knows it’s February, we want them to know the Rugger Plunge is coming.”