Chris Mattina -
2011 Kevin Higgins College Scholarship Grant Recipient
San Diego, CA (December 19, 2011) - Chris Mattina is a second generation rugby player as his father, Dominick, played in college and for many years with the Manhattan Rugby Club. Family legend has it that the first ball ever thrown to Chris was a rugby ball. Chances are he caught it too as he’s been excelling on the pitch since he first started playing organized rugby at Xavier High School in New York City.
Chris played fullback on the Xavier freshmen team that went 15-0. The following season he played wing and fullback for the junior varsity team before being elevated to the varsity team for its California tour. Chris finished the season strong, starting at fullback in the 2009 national High School Championships where Xavier finished 3rd. He was also named Xavier’s Block X Award winner as the school’s Sophomore Athlete of the Year.
The following year Chris moved between starting center and wing on the Xavier varsity team. Chris and Xavier culminated a memorable season as Xavier took him the 2010 Single School National High School title and Chris was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Chris was asked to play flyhalf his senior year due to injuries and agreed to the switch without question. He also gained more responsibility as he was named one of the team’s vice-captains. He led Xavier to another National Championship final where they finished 2nd. Chris’s outstanding play was also recognized at the National level as he was invited to a USA U19 tryout but had to decline because was he unavailable. Chris had many collegiate rugby programs interested in his services, including Penn State, Delaware, Army, Utah, St. Joseph’s, Syracuse and Stony Brook.
While at Xavier, Chris carried a 3.0 GPA. He was a member of the school’s Irish American Society. In addition to rugby, Chris also played on Xavier’s basketball team and was a starter on the football team his junior year but missed his entire senior season due to a pre season injury. It was recuperating from that injury that helped him make his decision on what he wanted to do for a living. “When I broke my ankle senior year, I went to the hospital of special surgery’s physical therapy department for recovery. There I saw how all the therapists were helping improve their patient’s lives and knew then that this was what I wanted to do.”
Being in a physical therapy department was nothing new to Chris for the past six years he volunteered assisting the elderly in the physical therapy department at the Mary Manning Walsh Retirement Home in Manhattan. Chris’ mother is also a long time physical therapist so while he followed his father’s footsteps onto the rugby pitch he looks to follow his mother’s lead into physical therapy. To that end, Chris is majoring in Exercise Science at the University of Delaware. “I have a knack for science and was intrigued by the study of the human body. My career goals combine my interest of science, helping people, my love of athletics and sport, and achieving peak performance.”
This past summer Chris gave back to rugby as he was a volunteer counselor for Play Rugby USA teaching life lessons and rugby to under privileged 5-8 year old children in Harlem. Volunteering with Play Rugby USA is something that Chris hopes to do every summer break while he’s in school.
Congratulations Chris on being named a 2011 Kevin Higgins College Scholarship recipient.
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