They say the safest place is in the eye of the storm, but for Austin Felt that place was in the middle of the scrum. After experiencing the tragic loss of a friend during his teenage years, being present on the pitch brought Austin a sense of peace that could not be replicated. All his pent-up emotions and anger slowly began to translate into impact plays on the field. He credits the game for providing him with a community that has supported him through the challenging times and changing his life for the better. “Rugby in itself has taught me how to be a leader, be patient, and to be strong,” said Felt.
Austin’s first season of rugby was in 2016 with the Cobra Fists at the U14 level. He took a liking to the game and was given the opportunity to play hooker for the U19 team the following season as a ninth grader. His love for the game drove him, literally, to compete with several teams in Arizona.
After his local rugby program had to combine with another program, Felt made the round-trip commute from Flagstaff to Phoenix to play for the Phoenix Firebirds on Saturdays. In his three seasons with the Firebirds, he started as a prop for the U16 division and as a hooker for U19 division games. After losing 30 pounds, he transitioned to flanker for the U19 division, and his rugby career began to blossom.
Austin was named to the Arizona Bobcats select side from 2017-2020, representing the state’s best young ruggers at highly competitive tournaments across the country. He was the recipient of many team awards including, Rookie of the Year in 2019 and Most Improved in 2020. Having served as both a team captain and player-coach during his high school rugby career, in 2021 he was recognized for his leadership and devotion to his team.“
His on-field talents have served him well in his leadership role on our team. At the beginning of the season, we asked Austin to be a player-coach. It was probably the best coaching decision I made all year. However, it would be hard to say if Austin was a better coach or a player,” said Flagstaff Cobra Fists Head Coach, Kevin B. Harris. The Flagstaff, Arizona native will continue his rugby and academic career at the University of Arizona.
While playing for the Wildcats, he will major in physiology and medical sciences with intentions of pursuing a career in the medical field. He hopes that continuing to build his rugby skills at the collegiate level will lead him to the Major League Rugby pitch one day.
Regardless of where his future leads him, Austin is dedicated to continuing to grow the sport of rugby along the journey.