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GCU Men’s Rugby: “We’re So Grateful”

December 23, 2020

Lopes’ players, coaches give thanks to GCU administrators, athletic trainers

By: Jim Howell/GCU Club Sports Information Director

Even in a season of pandemic, they haven’t forgotten that it’s still a season of thanks first.

The fall semester for GCU Club Sports saw season schedules shifted to the spring, practice schedules affected by COVID-19 protocols, delays and momentary shutdowns, and the inevitable positive COVID tests and/or exposures that led to intermittent quarantines.

The Grand Canyon University Men’s Rugby team weathered through it, banding together its 50-plus members to forge through two dozen practices – all with no-contact drills and social distancing at the forefront. The mental strain was daunting at times, but through their coaching and student leadership, faith and fellowship got the Lopes to the end of the fall.

Four-year Lopes’ Men’s Rugby veteran Hunter Twamley, who has stayed with the program as a team manager after graduating from GCU last April, was so inspired after one particular team Bible study that he put pen to paper. The session – which began with the Bible, and then evolved into an intense discussion about the team’s overall mental health – gave Twamley’s mates a renewed focus, and gave Twamley the license to scribe the words below:

“As we all know, 2020 has been a very hard and trying time. So now let us look at what those trying times do to a college athlete, specifically rugby.

For one, we are experiencing a time where we don’t know the certainties, we don’t know the outcomes, we don’t know what’s going to happen next month, next three months, six months, a year out. This is a period where we are understanding that this world is powerful beyond our measure. The toll it takes on anyone can put them over the edge.

Rugby has always been an outlet for many of the boys to relieve the stresses of the world, but now with the virus, it is uncertain if they will even have a season. As expected, this can have an immense effect on their mental health and well-being. To deal with these struggles, many boys have found different outlets to let go and get their minds off the uncertainties. The extended period off has allowed the boys to focus on the little things in life, become more engaged in their studies, grow, strengthen their faith in God, and become more compassionate towards others. It’s not just about the aspect of playing, living and breathing rugby for the boys, it about what all that does to the rest of their life, the rest of their world, and everyone around them. This is the key concept. The boys realize to get over this hump, it must be done collectively.

Staying in tune off the pitch is just as important as staying in tune on the pitch. The boys have been displaying this concept through group activities such as playing volleyball or having small barbecues together, even if it must be done in a bubble or with a small group. The culture is what keeps the team together and what keeps the boys from letting the uncertainties get the best of them.

Spreading COVID-19 is what we are trying to minimize but at the same time, we are looking for that balance to make sure the mental health of the team is not also at risk.”

The results of his team’s inspired drive – coupled with the words of Twamley – gave their head man a new sense of awe in the workings of student empowerment, and a renewed sense of hope.

“In the face of the great unknown, we’re fully confident that 2021 will be a year of resurgence,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Sean O’Leary. “It will give us an opportunity to understand the feelings and frustrations we have now, and how we can use them towards our good, and the good of those around us.”

Interested in playing GCU Men’s Rugby? Join the team today!