Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
San Diego, CA (December 26, 2013) – The USRF has announced the winners of the 2013 Kevin Higgins College Scholarships. The $1,000 scholarships, named in honor of one of the all-time great U.S. players, Kevin Higgins, (pictured), are awarded to graduating high school seniors who have gone on to continue their education and rugby at the collegiate level. This year’s recipients brings the total to 52 Higgins Scholarship winners since the program was established in 2008.
“Selecting the Kevin Higgins College Scholarship recipients continues to be a difficult yet rewarding task for the Scholarship Committee,” said USRF Executive Director Brian Vizard. “This year’s recipients are once again outstanding young men and women who have made an impression at their high school, on the rugby pitch, in their communities, and now in college.”
This year’s Kevin Higgins College Scholarship winners are:
Azjah Long earned her black belt in karate in 2011 after 10 years of 3-4 hour training sessions three days a week. She was looking for another challenge after that. One as demanding as karate. She found it in rugby. Read how this 3.7 ICEF student was able to play rugby in New Zealand and China, and now with the University of Oregon….Read more about Azjah Long.
Connor Kissler was an accomplished high school football player recruited by a number of Division II college programs. But from the 8th grade on, rugby has been his passion. Rugby is always on Connor’s mind, and he’s good at it too. The former captain of his high school team was also a Colorado Select Side player in both his junior and senior years. He had a 3.6 GPA at Evergreen High School, was a four-year starter on the football team, maintained three part-time jobs throughout high school and still volunteered for several community events…Read more about Connor Kissler.
Ceara Sammon was a competitive dancer for 10 years prior to hearing the word “rugby.” But she said she recognized a change in her at her very first rugby training session. She was drawn into the drills, especially those that involved tackling. She left that practice feeling that rugby was a prefect fit for her. And she’s right. She led her team to two state championships, she made her regional all-star team three years in a row, and she was selected to attend the Women’s Junior All-American Regional Camp this past spring. Ceara graduated from St. Vincent Ferrer High School in New York City with a 3.7 GPA…Read more about Ceara Sammon.
Daniel Hardiman said rugby allowed him to showcase what he could do in a contact sport. He could not only play with the best of his peers, he and his coaches found out early on that he could also lead. He was one of the founders of the Del Norte High School rugby team and was named the team’s captain and president. He has represented the Southern California Griffins the past two years and when not playing on the pitch, he can still be found on it as Dan is a USA Rugby certified referee. Dan graduated with a 3.6 GPA and was a member of several of the school clubs, motivating, counseling and tutoring fellow students in a variety of topics and issues…Read more about Daniel Hardiman.
Corinne Heavner was introduced to rugby from the very first time she started to crawl as she used to be taken to matches where her father, Gary, was playing. When her dad told her about a tackle league when she was in the 8th grade she was all for it. She made her local and regional all-star teams on a regular basis. Then she made the USA U17s, then the USA U20s, and has now set her sights on becoming a Collegiate All-American while at Penn State and then hopefully the US Women’s National Team….Read more about Corinne Heavner.
Dawit Workie made all-star teams in both the United States and Canada living so close to the border in Seattle. He was also an all-star in the classroom as he never received a grade lower than a B in high school and was a member of the Honors Society all four years. While sevens is probably his stronger of the two versions, Dawit has worked hard in the XVs game and has played in every one of Dartmouth College’s matches this fall….Read more about Dawit Workie.
Danica Alley is just one of those kids that you know is going to succeed in life. She was ranked 7thin her graduating high school class of 429 at Bonita High School in La Verne, CA; she has volunteered at Special Education classes since she was in third grade; she has put in over 250 hours of volunteer work through her school’s Service Dog Program; and she has been a part of numerous teams and clubs throughout her high school career. Oh, and she has also lived with severe Juvenile Polyarticular Rheumatoid Arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes joints to swell and become extremely stiff and painful, since she was in 4thgrade….Read more about Danica Alley.
Matt Long began his rugby career in 2008 and has played every backline position, with his preferred positions being flyhalf and fullback. Matt was selected for the Southern California Griffins from 2011-2013. As a senior, he was invited to the inaugural High School All-American Stars vs Stripes camp and match, featuring the top 50 high school players in the USA. Matt earned a 3.5 GPA in high school and was a three year starting defensive back on the football team. Matt also gave back to his community by speaking to several groups of elementary school students about the importance of doing well in school now and he also helped connect special needs students with mainstreamed peers through the Best Buddies program….Read more about Matt Long.
Eileen Lieb and her large family have had to deal with more than their fair share of life’s hardships. But no matter how dark things were, Eileen credited rugby and her rugby teammates with seeing her through those tough times. Her talents on the rugby pitch have enabled her to be selected for the Wisconsin U19 team but it’s her attitude that inspires her teammates to greater things. Eileen graduated from Catholic Memorial High School with a 3.4 GPA and has given back to her school, her church and community in a variety of ways….Read more about Eileen Lieb.
Mitch Olney recalls his first rugby game like this, “The first game I played in I had no idea what was going on, but I knew I loved it.” He certainly picked up the game quickly though for by his sophomore year he was the team’s captain and it wasn’t too much longer that Mitch was helping run practices, putting the lineup cards together and being the on the field coach. In his senior year, Mitch set two goals – playing for the Indiana High School state title and earning selection on the Indiana Select Side team. He accomplished both goals. Mitch graduated from Carroll High School with a 3.0 GPA, played football there and was a member of the Interact Club and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes….Read more about Mitch Olney.
Lindey Wise has had two major life challenges over the past 18 months and she credits rugby and her faith with seeing her through those times. Lindey touched a rugby ball for the first time at a summer rugby camp just before her freshmen year in high school. But by the time she graduated, she helped lead Divine Savior Holy Angels to three consecutive Wisconsin and Midwest titles and three third place finishes at Nationals. She was outstanding in the classroom too finishing with a 3.5 GPA and First Honors in grades 10-12. Lindey also gave back to her community by volunteering with the National Kidney Foundation, the St. Vincent de Paul Meal Program, the Hunger Task Force, and the Child Christ Society….Read more about Lindey Wise.
The USRF would like to congratulate its 2013 recipients of the Kevin Higgins College Scholarships and thank all those who applied.
Donate to the Higgins Fund – Become a member of the Higgy Hundred
As a means to keeping Kevin Higgins’ legacy alive, the Foundation has established “The Higgy Hundred” to both further honor Kevin and to nurture our country’s rugby future. Our goal is to endow the Fund so that at least 10 scholarships are given out annually.
You can join “The Higgy Hundred” by contributing just $100 to the Kevin Higgins College Scholarship Fund. A gift of at least $250 puts you in “Higgy’s Captain’s Club”.
By becoming a member of either The Higgy Hundred or Higgy’s Captain’s Club, you will receive a Higgy Hundred t-shirt. Higgy’s Captain’s Club members will also receive a Higgy Hundred visor. Please don’t delay. Act now, be a winner, and join Higgy’s team once again.