Lopes’ coaching staff volunteers time with next generation of future Lopes
By: Zach Melcher/GCU Club Sports Writing Staff
14 straight days of rugby to create a brighter future.
Over 200 middle school through high school aged boys and girls traveled to Elkhart, Indiana to attend the Eagle Impact Rugby Academy.
The heads of the Grand Canyon University Rugby programs were waiting for them.
Over a two-week span in July, from the crack of dawn until midnight, the GCU Men’s Rugby Head Coach Sean O’Leary and GCU Women’s Rugby Head Coach Lindsey Mahoney volunteered their time to teach, build character, and create relationships with kids from all over the country at the high-performance clinic at the Moose Rugby Grounds.
The goal of the camp is to develop elite young rugby players by enhancing their technical, tactical, and physical skills. The clinic even offers guidance on post high school opportunities.
O’Leary, who has expressed his passion for growing the game, has been a part of this non-profit organization since 2014. O’Leary’s involvement has helped the grow the Lopes’ program.
“It is a massive recruiting opportunity,” said O’Leary. “Plus, the number of high-quality coaches who volunteer their time helps with our own coaching development.”
The Lopes’ connection with EIRA grew even stronger when Mahoney joined the academy as the head of the EIRA Girls Program last fall.
“It is cool to be a part of because there is not a lot of grassroots development efforts out there in the United States for girls’ rugby,” said Mahoney. “It’s one-of-a-kind in the sense that there is a huge need the camp is filling.”
This partnership not only grows the game of rugby but helps the Lopes’ coaching staff reach more prospective athletes for their programs.
“Naturally, we are able to get our eye on some of the most talented up-and-coming players,” said Mahoney. “We are able to build genuine relationships with the next group of future D1 and USA athletes in a way that is not pushy or over the top.”
“The days aren’t easy,” said O’Leary, “but they are good for me personally and professionally, as well as for GCU.”
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