Home > Denecia Fernandes 2017 Higgins Recipient

Denecia Fernandes -
 2017 Kevin Higgins College
Scholarship Grant Recipient

San Diego, CA (December 31, 2017) - Rugby taught Denecia Fernandes the importance of giving back to her community. The 2017 Kevin Higgins College Scholarship recipient was introduced to rugby during middle school and never looked back. Through tours around the world to her local community, she has seen and experienced first-hand how rugby can change the lives of those who love the sport. “This experience helped me grow as a person spiritually and mentally, and reminded me about the importance of being a part of and contributing to the world,” said Fernandes.

Fernandes was a member of the ICEF Rugby Club and played interchangeably at the junior varsity and varsity level. With ICEF, she traveled on rugby tours to Oakland, Las Vegas, Hawaii, Japan, Brazil, and Fiji. In 2016, she helped lead her team to an inaugural Los Angeles High School League Championship. Denecia fully embraces every aspect of rugby and even served as a mentor for middle school youth by interning for ICEF Rugby at rugby clinics. She will continue her rugby career for the Cal Women’s rugby team at the University of California, Berkeley.

“She is a very hard worker,” said ICEF teacher, Lisa Cherry. “Throughout her school career, Denecia had played volleyball, rugby, and track and field, on top of being a part of student council for four years. Even though she has a lot on her plate, she never allowed her academics to slip and has stayed at the top of her class.”

Denecia, a National Honor Society member, graduated from View Park Preparatory High School in Los Angeles, California with a 4.0 grade point average. She was highly involved in high school, serving as a member of various clubs and sports teams. She gave back to her school and community, including serving as a mentor for Queens We Are, a mentorship program for high school freshmen; managed a student-run, on-campus recycling service; volunteered with the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County; and participated as a junior usher at Baldwin Hills Baptist Church.

At the University of California, Berkeley, she intends on combining her passion for sports and helping others by pursuing a career in the sports medicine field. “I have always wanted to give back to my community, I just did not know it would be through something like rugby. It is satisfying to know I have an impact on others’ lives to be something more than a stereotype or a person blending in with society,” said Fernandes.

“Denecia is a very vocal leader on the pitch and uses her rugby knowledge to help others,” said Cal Bears co-captain, Ashley Azadeh. “She serves as a fantastic bridge between the experienced college players and her fellow rookies who have less rugby experience than her. She is actually the only rookie I know for a fact has been at every single practice and game. Her dedication is admirable. Additionally, I've seen her at the library quite a few times, and I know she puts a lot of focus into her school work. During finals week I saw Denecia and a teammate at the library with a few other friends at 4 a.m. Not only does that exemplify her dedication to her studies, but Denecia showed true leadership in orchestrating how her and her friends would get home. Denecia made sure her entire group of friends made their way safely back to their dorms.”

“Since Denecia was recruited into our program, we were already aware of her talent and drive to play rugby,” said the Bears other co-captain, Tyana Cullen. “Because our recruitment process does not tie in any players into playing for the team, it is always a question on whether or not they will actually join. Denecia was one of those recruits that was excited and ready to play at the college level and join our team.

“As the current starting scrum-half, I am always looking for girls to take under my wing and train. Since Denecia had already had previous experience in rugby and playing scrum-half, I made her my mentee so that I could teach her and help her grow. Denecia has taken advantage of this mentorship to help her develop her rugby skillset. She has asked me to come to practices early to pass and work on technique with her, and is always trying to step up her game. After every game she will ask me what she can improve on, and makes sure she is performing to the best of her abilities. She has the drive and passion to be a better player, and is always looking for ways to improve.

“In addition, she is a leader on and off the field. Every year, the team elects a “Leadership Team” made up of six players. This Leadership Team helps run practices and be a support system for fellow players. Denecia was the only person who was chosen by all of her fellow rookies to represent her rookie class. She is helpful and kind to those around her, and really helps her fellow rookie class understand and be involved in the game.

“As a whole, she is an amazing player and an amazing teammate. She is helpful to everyone on and off the field, and has the drive to push everyone to their fullest potential.”

Congratulations Denecia, on being selected as a 2017 Kevin Higgins College Scholarship recipient.

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