So everyone has their best of lists coming out and top ten lists of the year so I thought I put together one of my own. For USA Rugby and Chicago Rugby it's been a year of grown, weddings, championships and a few sad losses. As 2012 gets ready to kick off I feel positive saying that only better things will come to the sport and for teams in the city. The Chicago Riot did great in playoffs, The Chicago Blaze jumped to D1 and played strong all season keeping the super league teams on their toes. Loyola Women had a great season as well. The Black Rock was a part of Rugby Night in America that USA Rugby put on and showed the majority of the Rugby World Cup games. There were so many Rugby Turkey Bowls going on around the city that will hopefully stay as a tradition around town. Here's a look at some of the other big happenings for rugby in Chicago 2011
- The growth of CARFU teams: The number of team now in the Chicago Union are 47! That's between youth, high school, college and club leagues. The amount of growth is amazing and is sure to only get larger and stronger. The Nobel High School Network has young teens who wake up at the crack of dawn just to practice before school. Youth starting to play earlier are finding an alternative to football that can be expensive with all the equipment needed. More coaches are being certified and hopeful those getting certified to ref will grow as well.
- One Summer Chicago program based off of World Sports Chicago: This past summer I had the opportunity as well as other ruggers to go into neighborhoods with at risk youth and expose them to a new sport. Rugby was a part of the program and though the teens had difficulty at first they really enjoyed the program. It gave the youth an opportunity to try something else and kept them off the streets.
- Chicago Wapitis Youth Rugby Clinics: Started in the Spring Wapiti was created as an enjoyable environment centered on the developmental aspects of the game. It helps kids as young as 8 learn about integrity, physical fitness, responsibility, skill development and sportsmanship all while having fun. Many Chicago Clubs has players come out and guest coach and lead clinics. The Lions, Griffins, Riot, North Shore and other players came out to get youth involved in the game.
- Andrew Suniula Rugby World Cup: Chicago has a a number of USA Rugby players and seeing one play in the World Cup definately brings pride to players across the city. Andrew Suniula played great in the games and assisted in scores that helped show the world the USA Rugby should be taken seriously.
- The Passing of the Lions Club President: Keith Brown, longtime president of the Chicago Lions, passed after a long illness. Keith had served as President until this past August when he stepped down. He was instrumental in the team since 2005. Brown bought six rental units to help provide a steady income for the Lions as well as housing for newly transplanted players to get their feet on the ground upon first arriving in Chicago. He also was also the leader in securing the present playing pitch and clubhouse at our Lions for Hope Field in conjunction with The Hope Academy.
- Sean Mahon, a Fenwick High School senior was selected as a member of the USA Rugby Boy's High School All-American Sevens Team:The team traveled to the 2011 Victoria International Sevens tournament in Canada. There were four Canadian teams, but the HSAA All-American team was the number one seed. The team took 4th in the tourney and Mahon was also part of the team that played in the Las Vegas 7s Invitational.
- North Shore Women's Rugby Club WINNING NATIONALS! Ok, obviously the biggest this for Chicago Rugby players was that North Shore Women's Rugby Club went to National, and WON! they were not the favorite in this game and actually upset the Glendale Raports. They had an amazing season and really came together as a team to pull of this victory. Communication is a key element to a team and North Shore does it well. NS has going to playoffs and Sweet 16, but to come home as national champions is something that will keep the current players and old girls smiling from ear to ear for years to come
I hope you all have been having a great holiday season and have a happy and safe new year! Let's make more headlines next year!