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