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Merrimack College’s Rugby Coach Dom’s Drive to Coach

William Rodgers

When going into detail on who coach Dom is as a person, one would hardly guess how friendly and intelligent this ferocious-looking beast actually is. As cliche as it may sound, you should never judge a book by its cover. However, that is not the point of this story. The objective of this impactful story is to get coach Dom’s narrative out of his own experience playing rugby, and how it has led him to where he is today.

Coach Dom started his rugby career transitioning from football during his freshman year at Merrimack College. “Wanting to get back to a sport made me want to play rugby”. Coach Dom’s senior year of college didn’t have a coach so he and one of his buddies took the reins for the team and stepped up as leaders. “The coach had to go home due to emergency issues, so I was granted the head coach position and have been ever since. It’s the best thing I can honestly ask for. I love the game. I loved being able to play when I did. In terms of what got me to be a rugby coach, it was kind of something I was just thrown into but you know what I made the best out of the opportunity and I’m just looking forward to growing the program and seeing where we can take it.”

While playing club rugby at Merrimack College he experienced a career-altering injury. “I had a traumatic knee injury. I blew my knee out, and it’s been about seven years since I last played, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s a great sport, and with the comradery that comes with it, you really can’t beat it.” Injuries are so mentally and physically defeating. The perseverance and motivation to bounce back to one are normal self after an injury has always been one of the most challenging components in recovery. What kept Dom motivated and determined to get through his injury was “the will to want to play again. Every day I would tell myself I just want one more game. I had eight surgeries; I flatlined during my last one, I was resuscitated, and I was on crutches for 13 months but every day I would just tell myself I just want one more game. I just kept fighting, kept going to rehab, and did everything that I could, I would put hours in the gym, I would crutch around in the gym, just anything to teach myself how to walk again, to run, and stuff like that. It was about a two-year recovery process, I’m still in the process of recovering now from day to day. I have a bunch of residual things that I kind of have to work on within my day-to-day life, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have people ask me all the time if I could go back in time and all I would have to do is not play rugby, and I wouldn’t be in the position that I am in terms of my injury, would I do it, and I absolutely say no. It was worth absolutely everything, I would do it, again and again, ten times over just because of how much I love the sport.” It is clear to say that rugby had a major impact on his life inside and outside of the sport to this day. His knowledge and passion for the game make it obvious that he always wants what’s best for the team. His enthusiasm and support go above and beyond in how he expresses his love for all of the players.

The aspect Coach Dom likes most about rugby has to be “the comradery, I love the hard teamwork. It really is a sport where 15 guys have to come together as one unit in order to conquer success. It’s not like with football, hockey, or other sports that can rely only on a couple of skilled players and some are mediocre, if one person screws up then everyone on the team pretty much screws up. Just having to play in that tougher aspect of having to work together as a unit, but at the same time trying to overcome the other team in terms of being bigger, stronger, and faster than them is definitely a mental grit and a mental warfare game, but if you can win the mental warfare, you can pretty much put your body through anything else. So I just kind of think that the character it builds underneath the game itself, it’s definitely enough to make you kind of want to stick around once you start playing.” He goes on to say “it’s more than just a game.” Rugby helps build character as well. It allows players to work together as a large group; it helps people gain the ultimate toughness and confidence they never once had. Rugby is purely more than just a game. It drives people to be the best selves they can be while working amongst and with others. A sport can have way more meaning than just the play of the game to the players. Sports such as rugby are life-changing games.

A piece of advice Coach Dom abides by and preaches is to “never stop working. Hard work guarantees you nothing but without it, you don’t stand a chance. So that’s always a quote that I abide by. Basically, it means if you work your ass off if you put everything you have into something, nothing in life is going to ever be guaranteed, but you’re going to be placing yourself in a higher position over someone that doesn’t want to do the work or someone that is solely going to rely on skill. So pretty much if you have the go get it attitude, just put your head down and work your ass off; you can accomplish anything.” This type of drive will get you far in life. It goes to show that hard work will get you far, but nothing in life is a guarantee given. Hard work and determination are not just applicable to rugby players on the field, but they can also lead to bigger things outside of the sport as well. The biggest takeaway of this story is when faced with a problem; it is best to work hard and not give up until that problem can be resolved or fixed. A strong work ethic is a route to success. So if one wants to be triumphant, it starts with how badly one is willing to want it.