By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.

2023-24 Kevin Higgins College Scholarship Recipient: Jacob Mandel

April 11, 2024

Jacob Mandel is a third-generation rugger. Mandel began his rugby career at age five with the San Diego Young Aztecs Rugby Club. As a member of the Aztecs, Jacob had the opportunity to expand his rugby horizons by traveling to New Zealand in 2018 and Ireland in 2023. He has also participated in several camps and tournaments across the United States with the Eagle Impact Rugby and Rhino Rugby Academies. He also played for the OMBAC Rugby Club and finished his high school club career with Try Time. Once Mandel entered the ninth grade, he founded the Mission Bay High School Rugby Club and led the team to two championships as both president and co-captain. He also advanced his rugby IQ by earning his referee certification. 

“There would not be a Mission Bay High School Rugby team without Jacob, and his efforts. He has continually shown his leadership as the founding member and first president of this club. Our school mandates an ASB club to exist to have a team, Jacob was responsible for recruiting teachers to run the ASB club. Jacob was also integral in recruiting coaches. As a participant at Try Time Rugby Academy, he was a large part of the recruiting effort to get me to coach his high school team. Jacob was also essential in recruiting and leading players on the field. As a player and captain, he led his teammates to be better players at training and galvanized his teammates on the field. I’m proud to see the leadership skills he has gained over the past three years and look forward to seeing him continue to grow at the university level and beyond,” said Adam Kawika Kekauoha, Mission Bay High School Rugby Head Coach. 

Mandel graduated from Mission Bay High School in San Diego, CA. with a 3.6 GPA. He competed in a variety of sports ranging from judo, sailing, and beach volleyball. He currently holds a sixth-degree green belt in judo. During his freshman year, Jacob fell in love with engineering and carried on becoming a four-year member of the robotics team. As a sophomore, he was elected Head of Design and CAD, becoming one of the youngest leaders in team history. In his senior year, as club president and head of engineering, he helped lead the Mission Bay squad to a third-place finish at the San Diego Regional Robotics Competition.

Mandel will continue his rugby career at the collegiate level while attending Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He will study robotics engineering with career aspirations of designing and building robots that improve the world. He is looking forward to building a rugby community in West Lafyette and beyond, saying “I have learned how rugby can take you around the world and I plan to play rugby wherever I go in the future.”