2022-23 William V. Campbell Memorial Scholarship Recipient: Thomas Byrnes
For Thomas Brynes rugby isn’t just a game, it’s a way of life. “Rugby has taught me that life, like rugby, will often force you to make a last-minute decision that can change the outcome in a major way. You should always keep your head in the game, your eye on the ball, and your focus on always giving things a really good TRY,” said Thomas.
He began his rugby career in grammar school traveling to Queens, New York to play for the Rockaway Rugby Football Club. He also played for Xavier High School, helping his team earn a second-place finish in the state and a fifth-place finish in the region.
“In all my years of coaching, I have worked with many outstanding young men who have gone forward in the world to accomplish great things. Thomas Byrnes is one of those young men and it is an honor to recommend him for this scholarship. As Thomas’ football coach, I can attest to his character as a man. He is well respected by his teammates and possesses extraordinary communication skills. His academic success in the classroom and his success on the football field is a clear example of his willingness to work tirelessly to achieve his goals. Thomas has the rare and unique ability to encourage those around him while competing on the football field. His tactful approach and positive attitude are a testament not only to his strong leadership skills but his remarkable maturity for a young man,” said Steve Orr, Brooklyn Hurricanes Youth Football Coach.
Thomas graduated from Xavier High School in New York, New York in the spring of 2022. He was an active in a variety of extracurricular activities serving in youth ministry, volunteering in his grammar school community outreach program, and Boy Scouts. He also played football for Xavier High School and was a member of the swim team as a diver. He has played competitive baseball for over 10 years at third base and as a relief pitcher. He served as president of the Gaelic Society and is a champion Irish dancer, with local, regional, and national titles; most recently representing his school at the world championships in Belfast, Ireland. Throughout his high school career, he was a member of the Junior ROTC program, earning a “Major” rank.
He will continue his academic and athletic career at Iona University while pursuing a criminal justice degree. During his collegiate summers, he plans on participating in a Platoon Leaders Class which would allow him to graduate as a Marine Corps Officer. Upon graduation, he intends to enter the USMC and serve four years. He wants to pursue a career in homeland security or the FBI. His rugby goals include playing for Rugby New York and establishing a rugby program in his local community.
“Thomas Byrnes is a freshman at lona University and has been one of our more promising up and coming players. Tommy came from Xavier HS as a wing, but we were well off at wing and it would be tough for him to see time there. After having this conversation with Tommy, he asked me about making the transition to scrum half. I was pretty surprised at this as this is a tough position to pick up at the D1A college level, but Tommy was determined to make his mark on this team as only a freshman. He went on to practice his scrum half skills before and after practice for the rest of the season, sometimes even by himself. By the end of the season, he was a very capable scrum half option for us and I'm excited for his future on the lona University rugby team. The reason I am telling this story is because I think it says a lot about Tommy's character and work ethic. I've tried to help Tommy along the way, but one thing you can't coach is work ethic and he has it,” said Connor Buckley, Iona University Rugby Assistant Coach.