The Overlook Journal

Rugby at T-D in a nutshell: Q&A Session

By: Xavier Rogers, Staff Reporter

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Mr. Schlitten started Thornton-Donovan’s rugby team at the start of 2016. Initially the team focused on fifteens, a game with 15 players per side. However, after original members of the team such as John Ventresca, Michael Fanelli, Lorenzo Gonzolla, Marco Minguiera, and more went off to college, the team shifted its focus to sevens (a faster paced version of fifteens, with each team having seven people on the field at one and playing fifteen minute games). I’ve had the privilege of not only being an original member of the team, but also had the honor of serving as team captain for the last two years. With our final game against New Rochelle High School having taken place in late May, the Overlook Journal found it fitting for me sit down with Mr. Schlitten and ask him a couple of questions reflecting on the team he’s been dedicated to coaching these last three years:

“What were your general expectations when you started the Rugby team?”

A: “The goal of the team was to build a tradition, physical fitness, a brotherhood, and a mentality to persevere through the trails and tribulations of life.”

“How do you feel that the team has performed, either this year or overall?”

A: “Based on the limitations of our team due to size, I feel that the team has outperformed my expectations. Several of our athletes have gone to All-Star camps, have trained at top-tier colleges, Have received scholarships to top 20 national powerhouses, and have brought a sense of dignity to the field in which they play on. However, with everything in life, I feel like we can be better and should be better.”

 “Speaking of scholarships, I wanted to talk to you about the people who have received scholarships and why you think it’s so significant to the school?”

A:” I think Thornton-Donovan was founded on building the mind first and foremost and is ingrained in the school’s ethos and DNA so that is something that will never go away. However, on the physical side, is the fact that we can build a learners’ profile for our students: they’re more than people that take tests or do well academically. They’re people that make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, bleed, try hard, they persevere. You’ve also seen with Jordan Drew, who received 90,000 dollars in athletic scholarships and around 65,000 dollars in athletic scholarships from Susquehanna, which reached the national playoffs and was playing on TV in Pennsylvania last week. AIC (American International College), which was at the same tournament, also gave Chris Miles 96,000 dollars to go play rugby for them.

Not only is Chris a starter on the team, but he also just finished his final semester with a 3.3 average, making the dean’s list at AIC. Then you have Xavier Rogers, the captain of the team for the last two years, who was recruited by James-Madison University and then decided to go to Binghamton, a national powerhouse, that wrote him an amazing letter of recommendation that streamlined his process to get into the school, one of the most selective public colleges in the country.  So I think I’m three years, the team has gone from a group of boys who can’t catch the ball, to three guys who will possibly be playing against each other on TV.”

“And for the final question, what do you see in the future of T-D rugby?”

A: “I see a tremendous amount of athletic ability, intelligence, and compassion, because right now rugby is built on compassion. The fact that these young men take each other’s bodies on the line, they have to treat each other with that same respect, which is a different kind of respect than you see in basketball or football, where it’s a kind of dog-eat-dog mentality. I think you’re going to see young men that not only have the brains, but the physical capability to pick and choose what school they go to with ease.”

“I think you’re going to see more of our young men going out into the midwest and west coast to play rugby, and some of them may even venture as far south as Texas to go play at universities. I think you have a tremendous, tremendous amount of talent in the likes of Quentin Beaty, Abdul Keshinoro, Joshua Jones, Varez Neale, Jaden Seabrook, Isaiah Williams, Errol Lipton, just to name a few. Danial Chauldry is going to be the X factor going forward in our scrums and on defense. All of them have talent, but some of these guys could end up playing at the junior nationals in the next year or two. That is a tremendous thing for a school with 170 students.”

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Rugby at T-D in a nutshell: Q&A Session