Photo Credit: Thomas Kim for USNA Rugby
Year in School: Freshman Major: Weapons Robotics and Control Engineering Years Playing Rugby: 7 years
Position in Rugby: Fullback
Why did you choose your school?
I chose the Naval Academy because I want to be surrounded by individuals who aspire to the next level in all attributes of their life. This is exactly the environment that the naval academy has, and I wanted to immerse myself in that culture. Additionally, I wanted to immerse myself in an environment where you are constantly competing to be the best in what you do, as this competition will allow you to grow continuously. Lastly, I chose to go to the naval academy because I wanted to be in an environment where I am not the best at everything I do. I think it is really important that you place yourself in an environment where you have people you strive to emulate and learn from instead of being in a stagnant environment where you are simply the best at everything you do.
What was your process of being recruited? My process for recruitment was longer than normal, as I was part of the first recruiting class. Because I was part of the first recruiting class, there were a lot of hoops to jump through as we all learned what the process was. However, I had a really strong application to begin with, so the recruiting process essentially just further cemented my application until my letter of assurance finally came. What are your favorite parts about being a member of the rugby program? My favorite part of being part of the rugby team is that it has truly become a family. Whenever I see them around campus, we always talk, and it doesn't matter if you're a firstie or a plebe; when we’re at rugby practice, we’re all equal, which I think is really important for growth. Additionally, being a part of the rugby program provides an amazing outlet for the stress that the Academy puts you under. There is nothing better than getting off the yard for 2 hours a day and playing a sport you love with teammates that truly care about you. Additionally, the culture of the rugby team is something that inspires me every day. Though we are able to have fun and release some stress from school, we hold each other to an extremely high standard and have no problem calling each other out if that standard is ever dropped, which allows us to grow as a team. What are your favorite parts about being a student at your school? My favorite part about being a student at the Naval Academy is the challenge that it offers. In high school, academics were pretty easy for me, and though some classes were challenging, they were nothing compared to the challenges here. I truly enjoy this challenge as I am able to thrive from that challenge and work even harder. Additionally, I truly enjoy being a student here because of all the support offered. Every one of my teachers offers personal extra instruction outside of class time if you are struggling, and there is an immense amount of counselors and department mentors there to help. This support system has made the academic load bearable, as you can face those challenges with a strong support system to ensure that you learn the material. I also really enjoy the military side that there is to school here. There are days when the marine corps will showcase weapons and take students on helicopter rides, which truly makes me realize that I am not at a regular civilian university.
Photo Credit: Thomas Kim for USNA Rugby
How do you balance schoolwork and rugby?
The biggest thing I do to balance schoolwork and rugby is being very efficient with how I get my schoolwork done. Additionally, each day I will set aside what homework I will complete that night so that I know exactly what to do. The naval academy intentionally overloads you with work, so knowing exactly what work you will get done at a certain time is crucial to efficiency. Additionally, I work extremely hard to stay ahead so that if there are days when I do not complete as much as I need to, there are no negative consequences like not finishing an assignment. What does a typical day and/or week look like for you?
A typical day usually starts around 0515 if I work out in the morning or around 0630 if I don’t. I'll wake up, go to breakfast, and then have four classes before lunch. After lunch, I have a rugby noon meal training where we will work on skills or watch film. After that, I have two more classes and then rugby practice from about 16-1800. After rugby, we will either have a lift with the team or go straight to evening meal. After evening meal, I will return to my room at around 1930-2000 and do homework until around 2200-2230, and then I will go to bed and do it again the next day.
What’s the biggest challenge about playing rugby at your school? The biggest challenge about playing rugby is being able to balance rugby and school. Rugby will eat a lot of your free time, so learning how to maximize your free time to stay on top of your academics is extremely important. Additionally, strictly from an athletic point of view, the biggest challenge is adjusting to the speed of play when transitioning from high school to college rugby. College rugby moves so much faster than high school, so learning how to manage is a big adjustment.
Besides rugby, what else are you involved in on campus? Right now, I am not involved in anything besides rugby. However, I am going to be joining a few ECAs, including the scuba club, the jiu-jitsu club, and the mountaineering club.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with a high school player who is interested in your school? The most important thing to focus on is your academics and understanding that without good grades, you are not going to be able to participate fully in athletics. Additionally, understand that coming to the Naval Academy is far from a typical college. You are going to be pushed, and you are going to fail, and that is expected here. However, it is up to you how to deal with those failures. You need to have a strong reason behind why you want to be at the Academy because the workload they place on you will test you in every way possible.
School Website: https://www.usna.edu/homepage.php
Men's Rugby Team Link: Naval Academy Men's Rugby
Head Coach, Gavin Hickie, firstname.lastname@example.org