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Day in the Life: Student-Athlete at Furman University

Tye Mendenhall

Year in School: Freshman Major: Health Science/Pre-med Years Playing Rugby: 6 years. This is my 7th

Position in Rugby: 8-man

Why did you choose your school? I chose Furman for a ton of reasons. First off was the overall environment of the school. It is in a very beautiful area in the foothills of South Carolina, right next to Greenville. I was also attracted by the size of the school; it is a perfect size, not too big, not too small. Furman also has an amazing advising program where their goal is to help you succeed and guide you through college. Finally, the rugby program was amazingly welcoming, and their chemistry was great when I visited. After meeting the team and coaches, I was convinced and never looked back.

What was your process of being recruited? I got lucky when it came to recruiting. At first, I was going to go to college and find my way to the rugby team once I arrived. This was not the case with Furman. My former coach, Jason Zempke of the Charlotte Cardinals Rugby Club, happened to be a friend and former teammate of Furman’s head coach Mike Miller. Zempke put me in touch with coach Miller when he heard that I was interested in Furman, and I was invited to come to a match to help out with the warm-up and watch the match. I really enjoyed the players, their skill level was refined, and their chemistry was high. I knew that Furman was committed to producing a high-level, nationally competitive club. What are your favorite parts about being a member of the rugby program? The rugby team at Furman is not just a club sport but a brotherhood. Our relationships extend beyond the pitch, and you can always count on your teammates to be there to sit with you at lunch or hang out after the match. What are your favorite parts about being a student at your school? As a student at Furman, I am not defined by a single club or sport, but I have the opportunity to use my time to focus not only on academics but other clubs. There is always something to do at Furman; the only person who limits you from doing everything you love is yourself. Furman is a great place to branch out, be yourself, and also get out of your comfort zone.

How do you balance schoolwork and rugby?

Rugby at Furman takes a student then athlete approach and knows that the team will not succeed on the pitch if they cannot succeed in the classroom. Therefore, I do not have a hard time getting my schoolwork done and still have time to focus and be present at training. However, this means each player has to have a high level of accountability when it comes to completing their schoolwork as well as working on rugby skills outside of training. What does a typical day and/or week look like for you?

In a typical week, each day, I have between two and four classes a day, at least one club or activity to participate in, time to do my school work, and time to hang out with my friends. The weekends are not dominated by rugby; we have one of the best pitches in the southeast, so many teams are willing to travel to us to play; therefore, we do not have a ton of away games, and when we do, they are never very far away. This also means that rugby does not take away from the social weekend life at Furman.

What’s the biggest challenge about playing rugby at your school? My biggest challenge has come to me while talking to students on campus about rugby. Rugby, especially in the South, has a certain stigma of being rowdy or dangerous, and as I get to know people, they are awed at how I am still in one piece. Having to explain to people that rugby is safe and enjoyable makes it hard to recruit other students and grow the game.

Besides rugby, what else are you involved in on campus? Furman has allowed me to be involved in a lot of clubs and activities that do not interfere with my rugby training and matches. Therefore, I am able to participate in Ultimate Frisbee, Rock Climbing, Young Life, RUF, trumpet studio, Spikeball club, Greek life, and have time to focus on my academics.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with a high school player who is interested in your school? Furman is an amazing place that allows for many opportunities to be involved in a vast number of unique experiences and organizations. It all depends on if you put yourself out there, do fun things, and find what you enjoy.

School Website: Rugby Team Website: Furman University Men's Rugby

Head Coach, Mike Miller



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