“So, you’re getting your kids up at 5 am to play rugby?”: Appreciating the volunteers that support this sport

So -- your kid is hooked on rugby, or getting there.  You’re hooked, or getting there.  Just like you cringed the first time your kid scraped their knee, or fell off a swing, or bumped something in [basketball / baseball / soccer / football / name-a-sport-here], you personally survived their first encounter with a rugby ruck, maul, tackle.  They survived it.  You survived it.

And you’re up for more.


Then you get an email from one of your team’s many volunteers – “Hey team – kickoff is at 10 am next Saturday….”  And that’s when you need to get yourself ready for the next step – the 5 am drive to Fresno / Sioux Falls / Somewhere Far(-ish) Away.

Youth teams travel, no matter your sport.  You’ve all been to great tournaments that are magnets for your and your childrens’ sports.  Rugby is the same.

It is also exacerbated by the stage of the sport here in the US.  While rugby is experiencing amazing growth in terms of player participation, rugby has teams popping up everywhere.  Right now, under the rains of coastal California or snowbanks spanning Iowa to Boston, you have volunteers working their tails off to attract, earn, and maintain your kids’ & their opponents’ attentions.

They do this by scheduling games.  By finding fields.  By finding new fields when they’re double-booked (or under water), or finding new teams to play when the scheduled ones can’t make it.  By finding more volunteers.  By hustling for donors.  By being nice to the referees.

And, as in the case of Central California Youth Rugby, rugby volunteers do it by rolling out the red carpet for 200+ kids to play a day full of rugby.  In your case (or at least mine), you’re getting up early and driving all that way for a well-organized Kickoff Tournament that, despite a 10 am kickoff, is still the best thing to do on a Saturday.

So who knows how this weekend will go, how cranky your kids (or you) will get on the drive, how many games your team will win.  Be satisfied that you’re building an experience with the game, your kids, and your growing family. 

Be thankful that you have Waze or Google Maps to find the pitch at the last possible moment before warmups.

And be even more thankful for the folks that welcome you there for the matches.  They’ll be returning the favor when they drive to you next week while you sleep in.

[Note: Cheers @559youthrugby /Central California Rugby Foundation for what’s going to be a great weekend]

 About Brian: Brian Schnack is an Iowa native, Santa Cruz resident working in product management in Silicon Valley, and currently Buttermaker-ing with the Santa Cruz Redhawks Under-12s.  He’s played across multiple positions and teams since 1990, most proudly with the U of Iowa, West Point, London Welsh Occies, Paxos (RIP), Mission (RIP – cursed), and Vagabonds (Back Bay / Army) Old Boys. You can babble with him on twitter via @theschnack