What a great end to a great 1st season!!
Special thanks to Kate and MaryClare Rae for starting the day off with a wonderful rendition of our Nation Anthem.
It was a good thing I asked Kevin Rae if he would sing, who immediately declined, and who immediately suggested to me to ask his 2 wonderful daughters, who just happened to have some singing experience from their church choir days.
Our athletes and coaches joined in with the singing, which turned out to be a great kick off for what turned out to be an epic day.
We had 22 athletes play out of our 30 player pool. We also had all of our coaches join in. All 22 of them.
The match was hotly contested throughout the 2 halves.
The sidelines were packed with fans, parents, siblings, Blackthorn High School players, Blackthorn men's side players, and numerous Blackthorn alumni who were treated to many long, and exciting runs, numerous multi-phase, methodical play that shows what the boys have learned in just 10 weeks, and some historic tries by many of our players.
Who will ever forget Stephen McGarry bulldozing his way in for the 1st try of the day?
The speed and agility of Joe Murphy, the battering ram of a tackler (non-contact!) Dylan Siveter, the electrifying runs for scores by Brandon Reilly, Collin Corchiolo, Joe Malloy, and others.
Every player had shown significant improvement from the start of this short season.
The spectators and fans witnessed the start to some very promising rugby careers this past Saturday.
The Blackthorn friends and family tunnel the players ran through when the match was over, which is a great tradition Blackthorn is proud of, could have been the longest tunnel I have ever run through. That was as great a memory as you can have playing rugby.
The presentation of our end of fall season gifts was also one of the best moments of my rugby career. The jerseys, all of which were jerseys donated by members of our Blackthorn Family, some of which were worn playing in matches in years past, some from championship matches, some tour jerseys from other countries, all jerseys with a history. Along with the jerseys, each player received a note, all received a special note written by Ned Bachus, some also received a note a bit more personalized, welcoming our players to Blackthorn. Here is Ned's note in the event you did not see it:
Welcome to the great game of rugby and to the
Blackthorn Rugby Football Club.
You are one of us now, and we will be there for you on the pitch and off the pitch.
We want you to have as much fun playing the game and hanging around with your teammates as we have.
Many people never experience the kind of friendship, learning, and fun that rugby players have, and no one enjoys it like Blackthorn players.
Wear your Blackthorn green and know that you are never alone when you are a Blackthorn Rugger!
This note pretty much nails it on how we all feel about these players.
We must end this season with giving Special Thanks to all those that made this 1st season for Blackthorn Inclusive Rugby possible:
Starting with the Coaches and volunteers: Kevin Rae, Paul McCarthy, Rodd Whitney, Jim Reddy, Joe Grohovsky, CJ Fitzgerald, Jason Sturm, EJ Drust, Pat Dufner, Jon Arnold, Danielle Norris, Mary Clare Rae, Nathaniel Kollman, Kiersten Corless, Todd Mason, Vince Caimi, Jesse Caimi, Billy Hendrie, Nick Castorino, Jake Niehoff, and Janet Kratske. I hope I did not miss anyone.
Thanks to all at Blackthorn, especially club President John Porter for being the teams biggest fan from the start.
Both practice and the match fields were all provided to us at no cost. Thanks to Bob House & Nancy Opalka from theMiracle League of Northampton Township for use of the turf field, Jill DeLucia and Cynthia Langan from CRUSA for use of the lighted field, (CRUSA), and Karyn Bonner, Josh Davis, Dave Gallagher and Terry Dougherty of College Settlement Camp for use of the match field this past Saturday.
We were able to offer this inaugural season free to all players thanks to our major Sponsors: Jon Arnold (Blackthorn Old Boy and owner of Quality Commercial Flooring), Tony Fletcher (Fletcher Custom Painting), Jim Perri (Widener Construction), Mike Darragh (Blackthorn Old Boy), and Pat Luddy (Blackthorn Old Boy). And as a start for next season, we received very generous donations Saturday from Mark & Laura McKenna (Blackthorn Alumni), Jerry Naples and Rick Mihalek (Blackthorn alumni).
Our preseason marketing literature was generated by team coach Rodd Whitney, of Cause Design (Blackthorn Alumni)
The nice green Wrist Bands many of us are wearing were the idea of coach and team singer MaryClare Rae. We still have many of these left and I should always have them with me so if you need more, just ask. Everyone we sell is revenue for the team at this point.
Remember the practice Jerseys and shorts handed out early in the season? Thanks to Jason Sturm & family for that great gift.
Remember the the Practice balls we handed out also very early in the season? They were donated by Brian Vizard and the US Rugby Foundation.
And another way we have been raising funds to allow us to offer this program free of charge was the sale of Numerous "Blackthorn Bible" Song books. Thanks to all that have purchased one of those.
Lastly, lets thanks all the parents, family members, and friends, that were able to get the players to the Monday night practices.
The development of these players over this first season is a credit to you all for making the effort to get them there one time (or at least rugby time).
In closing, this past Saturdays match was covered by by the Philadelphia Inquirer, (thanks to John Porter). Reporter Helen Ubinas was able to speak to some of the coaches and some of the players throughout the day. Her colleague Tiger also spoke to some and snapped a bunch of photos. When Helen finally got to me, she asked me what I have gotten out of this experience. I tried a couple of times to get out something thoughtful, but I don't think I really responded the way I would have liked. So to answer her question now, what I took away from this season was really how lucky I am to have so much love and support from my friends and family and to be able to share something I really, truly love (the game of rugby, and my family at Blackthorn) with the players and their families. No one should be this lucky. I am the George Bailey of rugby.
So, Thanks again to all for a memorable season and I look forward to our 2nd season, which should start in March.
Happy holidays (you can order Blackthorn swag for your favorite player from our club website--www.blackthornrugby.com)
Coach Allan Corless