2021-22 Terry O’Reilly Memorial Scholarship Recipient: Luke Malanga
Luke Malanga describes rugby as both an end and a means to his life, cherishing the positive influences of fraternity and athletic challenges the sport has to offer. “Workouts on off days, practice in the rain, and student run training in the off season, have brought me close to my teammates and strengthened a bond which changed my life on and off the pitch. In this way have I progressed through the past three years: slowly and with much struggle, but linked arm and arm to my teammates,” said Malanga. Luke played for the Summit Academy Rams for three seasons in various capacities from tight head prop, inside center, and fly-half. He served as the team leader for backs in his senior season. “It was a privilege to coach Luke for the last 3 years on Summit’s rugby team. In that time, he became our team leader and proved to be our most effective player on the pitch. He was not only a dominant force on the field but showed a “can do” attitude and willingness to learn that has been a great benefit to our program overall,” said the Summit Academy Rugby Head Coach, Richard Delaney.
Luke graduated with honors from the Summit Academy in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He excelled in the classroom, earning various academic excellence awards in different areas of study. He was heavily involved in extracurricular activities, specifically volunteer community outreach. Over the course of four years, he performed over 750 hours of community service. Malanga served as founder and president of Summit Academy SAT prep club and was involved in the Fredericksburg Toastmasters Youth Leadership Program. In 2020, he was a graduate of the Virginia Tech Pathways for Future Engineers summer program and the Thomas Aquinas College New England Great Books program. A dual-sport athlete, he was a member of the varsity soccer and rugby teams for Summit Academy. In addition to balancing extracurricular activities and athletics, Luke worked as a host and back of house support for a local eatery.
He will continue his athletic and academic endeavors at the University of Virginia. While playing for the Cavaliers, he will major in engineering, with an emphasis in biomedical engineering. His career goals, inspired by his grandmother, include developing tools and equipment that serve the welfare and functionality of the elderly. At the collegiate level of competition, Luke looks forward to developing lifelong relationships with his teammates and the rugby community. “This is what I want for my future in rugby and in my career— to sacrifice for others like rugby has taught me to; to link arms and press forward together,” said Malanga. He has adjusted well to the demands of collegiate student-athlete life and has become an asset to his team. “Luke has been an excellent addition to the team this season. He has never missed a practice or conditioning session and has shown true growth as a player over the course of this season. Our team has great depth in the backline and Luke is essential for games as a Swiss army knife, we can rely upon, should one of our starting 7 need to come out,” said Kevin Kelley, UVA Men’s Club Rugby.