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Day in the Life: Rugby Student-Athlete at Army West Point


Matthew Doyle

Year in School: Yearling (Sophomore)

Major: English Major with a Minor in Applied Statistics and Data Science

Years Playing Rugby: 6

Position in Rugby: Front Row

Why did you choose your school?

I chose West Point because I wanted to serve and be challenged in every facet of the college rugby experience, and I can say, by and large, almost every day here has offered a new challenge to summit. These experiences have been very humbling, however, I feel empowered by my ability to overcome and push through many of the trials I once found unfathomable. West Point has this uncanny ability to reveal your greatest weaknesses, but it also introduces you to some of the best people who can help you turn those weaknesses into strengths. Whether it be on the pitch or in the classroom, I am supported and empowered by my Brothers and coaches to achieve something greater than myself.

What was your process of being recruited?

I attended the West Point Army Rugby camp in 2019 and then maintained a solid means of communication with the coaches until my senior year in 2021. Come senior year, I completed my application to the United States Military Academy and finished my congressional nominations. I was selected by my state representative for a nomination to West Point and then was lucky enough to be chipped by the rugby program in the USMA application process.

What are your favorite parts about being a member of the rugby program?

One of my favorite parts about being a member of the Army rugby program is our infectious mindset to achieve our best in everything we do. Every man strives to be something better than themselves, and each plays an important role in cultivating our long-lasting culture. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the top 23 or running waters come match day; everybody knows and embraces the importance of the "we over me. " It’s a privilege to be a part of this team, and I love the Brotherhood. Also, I would be remiss in not saying the best part of many of our days is coming down from up top, into the locker room, then out onto the field and getting gritty with the boys.

What are your favorite parts about being a student at your school?

One of my favorite parts about being a student at USMA is the amount of exposure to other fields of academia I can learn in. I am an English Major with a Minor in Applied Statistics and Data Science but am still able to take robotic courses, biology, and even a class in Sabermetrics. I also greatly enjoy the small class sizes (around 12 per class) as I feel they create a more encouraging learning environment.

How do you balance schoolwork and rugby?

A lot is demanded from the West Point schedule, but we are surrounded by fellow cadets, instructors, and coaches who legitimately want to help us succeed. Learning a balance between schoolwork and rugby can quite possibly be one of the hardest things to do here, but it is achievable. In my second year at the academy, I have yet to perfect this art of balancing, but I’m getting better and better at it every day. The biggest thing that has helped me achieve a better balance and something that is true no matter where you go to university is the importance of learning to ask for help and lean on others. Although you might be able to do everything on your own, it will never be as good a product if you had trusted others to help you.

What does a typical day and/or week look like for you?

Pretty busy. I wake up every weekday at 0620. Out the door and fully dressed by 0640 for breakfast formation. Then I usually have about three classes from 0730 until 1150. After booking it over to lunch formation at 1155, I then march to the mess hall with my company for the historic Corps of Cadet’s twenty-minute lunch. We eat as a team – this time always serves as a great midday pick-me-up. I then usually have one more class after lunch until 1530, where we head down to practice. We spend about three hours down at practice and then head back up top to the mess hall to grab some dinner around 1900. After dinner, I head back to my barracks, where I’ll either socialize for a little or begin my homework for the evening. I tend to wind down around 2300 and get to bed at 2330. Rinse and repeat a couple more times, and then you’re at the weekend. Like what many cadets say at the academies: the days are long, but the weeks fly by.

What’s the biggest challenge about playing rugby at your school?

For me, the biggest challenge at West Point has been trying to balance my effort in everything offered here. A lot of things are thrown at you at the academy - you’re not expected to be perfect at all of it, but you are expected to give it your all. In the rugby realm, that means when I’m on the pitch, watching film, breaking down the field after practice, or lifting, I’m giving it all my effort. In the student realm, that means when I’m in the classroom, studying for a test, or finishing homework late at night, I’m also giving it all my effort. The truth is you will rarely have the energy to naturally give it your all. It is a conscious decision you must make every day. That is why the Army rugby Brotherhood is so important. It’s a privilege being able to look to your left and right at any given time and see how hard your Brothers are working. It empowers and pushes you to always give everything you have.

Besides rugby, what else are you involved in on campus?

Besides rugby, I am involved in the Russian Forum, International Affairs Forum, and Astronomy Club here at West Point. They have offered me fantastic opportunities to broaden my global understanding that I otherwise would not have gotten. As a student-athlete, I appreciate that West Point offers a broad range of academic clubs that cadet athletes can actually partake in.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with a high school player who is interested in your school?

West Point is a challenge, but I promise if you decide you want it - you will get through it. You will be faced with many trials, from the second you get off the bus on R-day to the day you graduate. However, you will always be surrounded by some of the most noble, honest, and hardest-working men you will ever know. You will grow in such a way that you never thought yourself capable of. From the moment you join the team, you will have a Brotherhood for life. Army West Point Rugby

Head Coach Matt Sherman - matthew.sherman@westpoint.edu


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