AIC Rugby Maintains Culture and Expectations Through Quarantine

Tommy Clark

All sports and activities are canceled for the remained of the spring semester at AIC due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost everyone is back at their homes in quarantine. You might be wondering how NCAA teams are handling this, as well as club sports. For the AIC rugby team, they continue to hold their standards high for each other, staying in shape, and preparing themselves to return in the fall.

The culture of AIC rugby has been a supportive one, and has endured through social media. Players on both the men’s and the women’s teams have been posting workout videos and having consistent zoom meetings to make sure everyone one is staying on top of their schoolwork and fitness.

Mike Bowen
The AIC men’s and women’s rugby teams

For some, it has been a struggle, since the pandemic cut senior careers short. No longer living on campus has disrupted some athletes’ structured lives. But worldwide, everybody is facing this difficulty. AIC rugby players are working to hold each other up and to hold each other accountable through group chats and zoom meetings. They are trying to stay competitive through workout groups amongst the team. These players demonstrate a great support system all around for each other.

AIC rugby is hungry for the next season to come, and they will be ready to tackle it head on. Recently, both rugby teams organized a zoom meeting to watch the AIC Athletics Award Ceremony together to support the nominees and winners, and to bond more as a team together. For the time being, it was such a positive event for the team during an ongoing crisis like this.

Through commercial breaks and intermissions, the Yellow Jackets discussed the Award show and talked about how things are going back home. This keeps the Yellow Jackets connected for the time being. The Yellow Jackets were entertained, and even had cause to celebrate one of their very own rugby players.

The first Piepul Award went to Allyson Pothier, the senior captain for the women’s rugby team. The award is to honor her drive and leadership and the ability to still be able to come back and support her team after tearing her ACL twice. Yes, twice she was able to maintain focus and keep her spirits high in hopes of returning to play. Pothier continues to put her foot on the gas and to get stronger each day. She will not let her ambition die for playing rugby.

The Yellow Jackets were very proud of her through the zoom chat, congratulating her on her success. The award was well deserved, and drew appreciation from the program. Even though the players may be isolated from one another by thousands of miles, the culture of AIC rugby is strong.

Sophomore Tiffany Hernandez provided some updates on what the women’s team has been doing since students left campus. “The women’s rugby team is working hard to stay connected during these difficult times,” Hernandez said. “We all miss each other dearly, so we keep each other updated on our lives through group chats and zoom calls. Our coach, T. Fletcher, has made a great effort to stay connected with us weekly with text on how our mental health and school has been. And on top of that, we’ve connected through recruiting calls, and weekly group exercise competitions. It has been hard for everyone in quarantine and it’s great to know there’s always a big outer family to talk to if need be.” Hernandez has been maintaining her part and finishing up classes strong for her sophomore year. Also, she recently joined the SAAC Executive Board, representing AIC rugby. Having really good ideas and opinions, Hernandez could help the rugby program build their reputation through AIC Athletics.

Sophomore Jesse Emerson of the men’s team also shared how he has been staying in touch with the team while in quarantine. “I’ve been staying connected with my team by using zoom calls and other ways of social media,” Emerson said. “It’s been a good thing to be able to mess around and stay close with them. We maintain team culture by creating pods that keep teammates accountable and [keep] pushing everyone to be better. We have big expectations for the upcoming season and we definitely don’t want a pandemic to derail all of our plans.”

The rugby program is united through this pandemic. Head Coach T. Fletcher said, “Expectations and culture doesn’t change; we look to help and do whatever we can to keep our players on track and in shape.” AIC rugby looks to stay strong in hopes that they can return to the field for the fall semester.

**Audio Extra** Hear an interview with another AIC Athlete, Tobias Paulsen of AIC Men’s Soccer, on how the pandemic has affected him and his training.