Terps Rugby 7s

As you guys know from my ‘About Me’ page, which none of you have probably read, I am on the men’s rugby team at the University of Maryland. This summer, May 31st-June 1st, we have been invited to participate in the Collegiate Rugby Championship at PPL Park in Philadelphia, PA. The CRCs is a rugby 7s tournament that twenty college programs from all over the country participate in. It’s a huge event and a great opportunity for Terps rugby, as well as the Univeristy of Maryland, because it will be broadcasted on NBC and NBC sports. Rugby 7s is a different variation of rugby that only uses seven players on the field for each team as opposed to 15 each. The halves are only seven minutes long as opposed to forty minutes. It’s a faster paced game with bigger individual tackles and more scoring. The variation has just recently been picked up for the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro. The CRCs was created in 2010 to promote the sport in America in anticipation of the Olympics. It is also used as a talent pool to help find players for America’s team.

 

This will be the second time the Terps rugby team participates in the tournament. We played in the tournament back in 2012 and did alright. Day one wasn’t exactly anything to write home about as we lost all three games to Florida(7-19), Darthmouth (7-31), and Delaware (18-34). However, we turned it around and put together a great day two performance to redeem ourselves. In our first game, we won a nail biter against Penn State 28-26 on a last second try (which is like a touchdown) by me to stay alive. I’m somewhat of hero. We then went on to smoke Oklahoma 34-12 in game 2. In that game, I got completely steamrolled by a big ol’ farm boy on national TV. A hero falls. In game 3, we lost again to Florida 20-14 and our tournament ended. We were led by senior Trevor Tanifum, an English speedster, who led the whole tournament with 10 tries. He was named to the All-Tournament team and went on to be selected to 2012 All-American 7s team. It was a great opportunity back in 2012 and we can’t wait to get back there and build on our first performance.

The team has been training hard this spring to put on an even better performance this summer. We have participated in three tournaments and have been successfully building on each performance. The first tournament was in our backyard and was composed of six teams (Kutztown, Maryland, University of Virginia (UVA), Navy, Virgina Tech (VT), & North Carolina State (NC ST)). We finished in fifth place. It was our first tournament of the year and a lot of the teams had a couple tournaments under their belts already. We were still trying to find the the right combinations of players to use as well as still working out the kinks in our game plan. The constant rain didn’t help, but hey, the other teams had to play in it too. The first tournament, although a disappointment, gave us a good base of where we were and where we knew we needed to be.

The second tournament of the year took place at Viriginia Tech. It was also composed of six teams (VT, UVA, North Carolina (UNC), Radford, UMD, & Wake Forest). In this tournament, we finished third out of the the six teams, but the tournament was, in a way, more of a disappointment than the first.  Our defense was lackluster and played a roll in two close losses to UVA and VT, the two teams who played for the final. We were missing tackles that should have been made and leaving gaps all over the field for teams to run through. Our fitness wasn’t exactly where it needed to be and we were having difficulty holding on to the ball. Rugby 7s is all about possession. The games are only fourteen minutes long and it’s difficult for the other team to score, if they don’t have the ball. We’re not the biggest team in the country and we found ourselves going into contact way too much. Once in contact, we had a tendency to lose the ball in the tackle. We found ourselves playing way too much defense on the weekend and you can’t win tournaments if you’re only playing defense. We left that tournament knowing we had two big things to work on for the Atlantic Coast Rugby League 7s Tournament in Greensboro, NC. We had to lock down on our defense and focus on keeping the ball in hand.

The boys after 2nd Tournament in Viginia Tech

The boys after 2nd Tournament in Viginia Tech

With two weeks to prepare for Greensboro, we put in a lot of work to prepare ourselves for the two day, eight team tournament. Who would of thought, but the hard work did actually pay off. I guess our coaches, parents, and teachers aren’t just blowing smoke up our asses. On day one, we played NC State, UVA, and Clemson. We came out a little shaky and nervous for our first game against the Wolfpack. NC State is always a tough team with some big boys and hard runners. However, we managed to tire them out by stretching the field and running around them. We won 24-10. Our next game was against UVA, who had beaten us twice by small margins in the past two tournaments, and we were determined to get the victory. I noticed early that four of their best players were suited up, but standing on the sideline. If they didn’t want to play their best, we were going to make sure they regretted it. That game was the best rugby we played all year. We kept possession for almost the entire game and they crossed midfield on attack maybe once. We were winning our restarts, moving the ball from sideline to sideline and scoring when the holes opened up. The final score was 22-0. Our third and last game of the day came against the Clemson tigers. We were riding high on our defeat of UVA and played the same exact game against Clemson. We won 29-5. We finished the day 3-0 and in second place overall, behind Virgina Tech, who had scored more points on the day.

On day two, you had to play three games to win and that’s exactly what we did. We started the day off against Wake Forest and much like our first game against NC State, we came out a little shaky. After an early score by Wake Forest, we settled into the game, found our groove and pulled out the victory. The score was 29-12. That victory set us up to play recent Atlantic Coast Conference addition, Notre Dame, in the semi-final match. Notre Dame has a great team with a lot of big boys. Defense and hustle is what won this match for us. They threatened us a number of times with a lot of big runs, but we never gave in and always managed to make that one tackle before they could find the try-line. We won the game 19-7. It was a huge match for us because it showed us that we could gut it out and win the slow, physical games that big teams like to play. Offensively, we stuck to our game plan of keeping possession and staying out of a lot of contact. We moved the ball around the field to where the space was and capitalized on the defensive mistakes of Notre Dame. It was a great game and set up a rematch with UVA for the championship. UVA graciously decided to bless us with their starters’ presence in the championship match, which is two 10-minute halves. We opened the game with two quick scores and never looked back. We stuck to our game plan of just maintaining possession and striking when the gaps opened up. We hit them in the mouth from the opening kickoff and I think they were a little shocked by that. They never really got themselves back into the game. They did have a good majority of possession too, but we played great contained defense. We didn’t give up any holes in the middle and we didn’t let them run around us on the edges. We made our tackles and converted our opportunities. It was a great and well-deserved 40-7 victory. Two notable players on the weekend were MIke Messina, the blazing, fast winger, and Matt Sarna, the athletic prop, who led the team in tries with eight and seven, respectively.

2014 ACRL 7s Champions

2014 ACRL 7s Champions

 

Captain Matias Cima with the chip

Captain Matias Cima with the chip

One of the stars on the day, Matt Sarna, getting properly hydrated

One of the stars on the day, Matt Sarna, getting properly hydrated

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have a little less than three weeks to prepare for the CRCs in Philly. We are working hard both on the field and in the classroom. Right now we’re doing four training sessions a week with an added film session. Sessions will start to be everyday as finals come to an end. The team is looking good and we’re definitely in a better position going into this tournament now than we were two years ago.We have five players on the team who played in the 2012 tournament. That kind of experience and knowledge of what it takes to perform at this level is vital for a team. If you combine that with the new guys on the squad, all knowledgeable and athletic rugby players, we have a chance to do pretty well. We have a tough pool that includes Temple, Drexel and 2013 CRC Champions and rugby power house, University of California, Berkeley. We are definitely up for the challenge and could use the support of both the University of Maryland and local rugby community. So if you can, please buy tickets through us at this link. It’s $35 for a two day pass and $25 for just one day. If you can’t attend the actual tournament, just think of it as a friendly donation. We would really appreciate and we hope to see a lot Terps fans out in Philly this summer. Also, check your local listings to see when we play on TV.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!!! Spread the word. See you in Philly.

 

 

Don’t Quit.

"It makes me sick when I see a guy watch it go out of bounds."-Larry Bird Image Credit: Mangninphotogrophy.net

“It makes me sick when I see a guy watch it go out of bounds.”-Larry Bird
Image Credit: Mangninphotography.net

The other day I was perusing the established sporting magazine, Sports Illustrated, and skipped to the usually enjoyable last article of the magazine. The article, written by Steve Rushin, was entitled “I Can Quit You Baby” and it discussed the issue of quitting in sports. My response to quitting is a pretty simple one. You just don’t do it. The fact that there is an article that even asks the question is absurd to me. Buy hey, 1st Amendment baby!! You can talk about whatever you want. Let’s take a look at the last couple of lines of the article, shall we? I think they sum up the ridiculousness of the article perfectly.  “If you’ve never quit anything, you really ought to try. And if at first you don’t succeed, try again. Don’t give up until you’ve given up. It just might set you free”. Hey kids, having some tough luck in your sport? Quit. Do you seem to be in a slump? Oh it’s okay, just quit. You’ve lost 3 games in a row? Try one more time and if you can’t get the win after the fourth game, than you can quit. “Don’t give up until you’ve given up. It just might set you free”. This guy gets paid to write? What does this line even mean? I think he took Philosophy 100 a little too seriously in college. I’m going to talk about quitting from a team sport standpoint because that’s what I know best. Quitting doesn’t set you free. Whether you participate in a team sport or compete on your own, quitting is the act of letting yourself or your teammates down because you’re afraid of not obtaining personal success. It’s a selfish act used to put yourself above both teammates and opponents. Growing up, I got two important pieces of advice from two different men. The first was from my high school rugby coach. He said, “go out there and give it everything you got and if you get hurt, no worries, we’ll carry you off on your shield”. This always stuck with me. You don’t come off that field unless you physically can’t play anymore. You sacrifice your body for the 14 other guys on the field with you and the 7 guys on the bench waiting for their opportunity. It doesn’t matter if you’re up by two, trying to hold on to the lead, or you’re down by 35 and the outcome doesn’t look good. No matter what you compete in, you give everything you’ve got every time you’re out there because you made a commitment when you signed up. There is no shame in getting hurt and being “carried off on your shield”, but there is shame on just walking off the field because you’re too tired or just not playing well. There is no freedom in quitting and that line is starting to piss me off more and more.This brings me to the second piece of advice I got from my Dad and I’ll admit, I still have to be reminded of it from time to time. He told me, “you got to play the game the right way”. It sounds so simple and broad, but it’s so important. It means you hustle every play, you respect your opponent, if you’re struggling in one aspect of the game, you don’t feel bad for yourself, but you sack up and find a different way to help the team win. Everyone has lost and everyone has had their share of struggles, but it’s those struggles that make you stronger. They create a stronger bond with teammates, they make you a stronger competitor, and they make victory that much sweeter. I know I’m speaking as the mayor of ‘Cliche City’ right now, but it’s really that simple. No one has ever gained anything from quitting. But John, the author of the article made a great point about Wally Amos quitting his job and becoming successful in selling chocolate chip cookies. One, Famous Amos cookies suck. Two, I don’t know how his editor didn’t throw this article away as soon as he saw that line and three, did i mention Famous Amos cookies suck? Don’t quit kids, it’s not a good look. I don’t even want to know what Jimmy V would say if he read this article.

5 Best Female Athletes From Film

It’s ladies week here at the Practice Heroes’ office, so what better way to honor all my beloved female readers than to rank the top 5 female athletes that they grew up watching in both fictional and non-fictional works of cinema. (Spoiler: These athletes are all pretty much not real; however, their stories and acts of triumphs are no less important.) These five females inspired girls AND boys growing up in the 90’s to believe in themselves, dig deep, and do things they could never imagine. They broke down barriers and kicked ass while doing it. Tears and blood were shed while both physical and mental strength were tested, however, these girls prevailed and showed us all what it takes to be a champion. So without further ado, I present the 5 best female athletes of film:

5. Heather and Heidi Burge from Double Teamed

Love conquers all.

Love conquers all.

I’m starting off the list with the real life twin sisters we often forget. This is my first of two shout outs to Disney Channel Original Movies. Heather and Heidi Burge were two sisters who didn’t grow up playing basketball. Basketball found them and the rest of the world is thankful for it. The two tall sisters were convinced to play by their high school coach. Heather was the natural star, but Heidi had her moments as well. As usual with sisters, jealousy came between them. However, as champions do, the girls put their petty arguments aside and teamed up to win a championship. With fancy footwork and sweet hook shots, these girls changed the face of women’s basketball. They took a simple jab step move and rode it all the way to the WNBA. And to think, they never played basketball before high school. Their story gives hope to every kid who’s never picked up a basketball before age 14. Truly unbelievable.

4. Julie “Cat” Gaffney from D2: The Mighty Ducks

Stone face Gaffney

Stone face Gaffney

Julie Gaffney, aka “The Cat”, is the quick glove hand goalie who joins the Ducks in the second movie for the National Junior Goodwill Games. Cat’s one of those girls who doesn’t lack self confidence. She’s got a fast glove hand and can stop pretty much every puck that comes her way. Unfortunately, she came into a team that already had a strong goalie in the formidable Goldberg. As a result, Cat anxiously sat on the bench waiting for her opportunity to strike. We can all learn a valuable lesson from Cat here, people. She could have easily sunk her head and given up on the season because she wasn’t starting. However, Cat always trusted herself and what do you know, she got her chance. In the championship match, she’s called on for the last shot of the 5 shot shoot-out and does what champions do:

Goosebumps. Cat trusted herself and did what heroes do. Always be ready, baby!!

3. Anne Marie from Blue Crush

Just stupid fit....

Just stupid fit….

Anne Marie is a special talent. The girl can flat out shred the knar. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. She has the physical aspects it takes to compete against the mighty, brutal ocean. She’s got tone arms and legs to paddle against the surf and a strong core to keep her balanced on the board. However, it’s her mental strength that separates her from the rest. As a professional body surfer, I know the toll the waves can take on your body. After a gnarly wipe out, you start second guessing yourself and begin to wonder if it’s all worth it. It’s a constant mind game with the ocean. A horrific wipe out kept Ann Marie from participating in competition for quite some time. But as any good rags to riches story goes, Ann Marie gets back in the ring looking for sponsors to get herself and her sister out of the slums. She wipes out a number of times before settling down and conquering the best wave of the day. Words can’t describe it, so let me show you. (Start at the 2:35 mark. The stuff before is just bonus footage of her killing it.)

Ann Marie demonstrates the mental strength it takes to succeed and shows all young athletes the benefit of just getting out of your own way. Truly legendary stuff.

2. Andrea “Andy” Carson from Motocrossed

Andy or Andrea? Stud regardless

Andy or Andrea? Stud regardless

Andrea Carson is just an inspiration. She cuts off all her hair to pretend to be her brother so that she can win a sponsorship for her family. She’s out their racing dirt bikes with the big boys. Dirt bikes people. She’s controlling a 215 pound bike going 60 mph around hard turns and bumpy terrain. These guys are killers out there as they try to cut each other off to get the lead. Andrea easily could have been out muscled and tossed off her bike at any moment. But, c’mon, everyone knows Andrea has muscles on her muscle.  Excuse my expression here, but the chick’s got balls. I tried driving a moped once and let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. Not only is she a talented racer (She goes on to win the sponsorship for her family. Was there ever a doubt?), but she is a pioneer for women athletes everywhere. I mean, I haven’t seen this kind of courage since Kathrine Switzer decided to run the Boston Marathon in 1967. Love it. Stick it to the dudes. Talent is talent. Run your race ladies, run your race.

1. Becky “Icebox” O’Shea from Little Giants

Don't let the smile fool ya. Killer

Don’t let the smile fool ya. Killer

Topping off the list at numero uno is my girl Becky O’Shea. Becky is number one for two simple reasons. First of all, she’s a bad ass, bone shattering linebacker. Secondly, her nickname is Icebox. That is hands down the best nickname in the history of nicknames. Growing up my nicknames were “Four Eyes” and “JD”. You could tell from a young age, I was destined for great things. Now your probably wondering why they call her Icebox. It’s simple, when she hits you, you die and your remains are frozen like the Red Sox legend Teddy “Ballgame” Williams. That’s just star athlete material. I feel like I don’t have to say anymore. She’s the best. In the championship victory, she put that 3rd person speaking, meat head Spike in the dirt. Icebox is at the top and everyone else is just looking up.

The punk never stood a chance. What kind of name is Spike?

The punk never stood a chance. What kind of name is Spike?

Bonus Feature:

This is the stuff that movies are made of. I can see it now. They’ll call it Takedown: From Toddler to Teenager. It’s a story of two rival girls growing up on separate sides of the neighborhood. One a rich, popular girl, and the other is a poor girl fighting for her family. Both battle for respect and that one boy they have their eye on. Every movie is a love story people, if you remember nothing from me, remember that. Their story will inspire the next generation of young athletes all over the world. Shout out to all my ladies. Keep doing your thing. Keep turning the sporting world on it’s head. Much love.

 

Play Ball

This is a blog designed to bring you guys a variety of sports information. It can range anywhere between a serious subject like steroids in baseball to the correlation between stud athletes and facial hair. I plan on doing player profiles, certain game recaps, and tackling the tough questions that any good sports reporter would ask, like why the hell do they show poker on ESPN? I specifically want to take a microscope to some of the ridiculousness of sports in our society and just make some lighthearted observations about the games we all take so seriously. For example, the NBA used to be one of the most competitive and most watched leagues in the country and now it seems its just about what celebrity is sitting court side on a particular night (I find myself constantly researching what kind of arm candy Leo brought to the Lakers game).

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I am by no means an expert and this blog may actually unveil how little I actually know about sports. But to me, that is the beauty of sports. Its the one subject matter that you can be completely biased and don’t have to take your opponent’s argument seriously. Is Coach Krzyzewski the greatest college basketball coach of all time? No, he is a weasel who dyes his hair, has no respect for the game and has to cheat to win. I’ll take that to my grave.

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But seriously, this is a blog for both the casual and avid sports fan discussing anything from the just straight disrespect that jockeys get to the magnificent career of Steve Blake. Like any good practice hero, I promise to annoy you and try way too hard. Hopefully you guys have as much fun reading it as I do writing it.