Denver's East High School -
A 2012 A Ball 4 All Team Recipient
San Diego, CA (March 13, 2012) - One of the goals of the USRF for 2012 is to provide 50,000 youth and high school players with their own rugby ball. One of the first teams to benefit from the A Ball 4 All program was Denver's East High School Rugby Team (shown above after the players received their A Ball 4 All rugby balls).
"Very few of our kids owned a rugby ball prior to this generous donation,” said East High School head coach Bill Baer, who has been involved with the program for the past 18 years. “As a large, inner city program, it was not possible for us to provide a ball for our players. The A Ball 4 All program will now allow each kid to have their own ball and it will help them improve their skills at an accelerated rate. We are very grateful to be one of the first team recipients of the program.”
Coach Baer is not the only member of the East High School rugby program excited by being one of the first USRF A Ball 4 All recipients.
"My first rugby ball ever! That I have my own ball means that I now feel part of the rugby community," said East High School senior and team captain Meshach Ricketts.
"This is great! I've been carrying my ball around with me wherever I go ever since I got it," said 8th grader Max Cohen.
East High School has enjoyed great success in a number of sports, including boy's basketball where they have become a state powerhouse. East wanted to start making a name for themselves in high school rugby as well and founded by Paul Hoskins Sr., the East High School rugby team was formed in 1988. About 20 players turned out for that first season but the program has continued to grow on an annual basis to its present day roster of over 70 players.
As the numbers increased so too did the talent level and with that came Colorado State Championship titles in 1997, 2002, 2004 and 2009. In addition, the East High School rugby team won the State Sportsmanship Award in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
The team continues to be a club sport on campus but the players are now awarded "letters" for their efforts. Every year for the past 15 years, East has gone on tour. Last year, the team travelled with 62 players and 40 parents to Kansas City.
The students raise funds through a pancake breakfast at the school and the parents hold a fundraiser auction to raise funds for tour scholarships. Tour scholarships are not based on athletic ability but rather on attendance at practice. The team takes an A side, B side, and 8th grade/ Fresh/ Soph team and everyone gets to play. This year the team's tour will be to Omaha and Des Moines in April.
East High School Rugby has produced seven USA U19 All-Americans including Link Wilfley, Connor O'Brien and John Falkenberg.
The United States Rugby Foundation congratulates Denver's East High School rugby team on their past glory and wishes them the best of luck for continued success.
We will continue to post other A Ball 4 All team profiles as they come in. Stay tuned!
If you'd like to contribute to the USRF's A Ball 4 All Program and help us reach our goal of providing 50,000 young rugby players with their own ball, please donate today!