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First rule of rugby: Have fun

JBLM youth experience ‘something different’ at rugby camp

Northwest Guardian

Published: 02:51PM August 9th, 2012
First rule of rugby: Have fun

Scott Hansen/Northwest Guardian

Rod Diciro, 9, struggles to pick up a loose ball while scrimmaging with fellow participants during a recent Serevi Rugby Camp for kids on JBLM Lewis Main.

Three days after arriving to Joint Base Lewis-McChord from Fort Benning, Ga., Lora Reichert’s two children were busy making friends. Twelve of them to be exact.

Reichert signed up Lilly Cumper, 7, and Jaydin Cumper, 6, for the Serevi Youth Rugby Camp at JBLM Aug. 2 and 3. “I like them to be involved in all sports to see what they like to do,” Reichert said. “My daughter is more girly, so this is something different for her.”

The mother and sergeant with the 62nd Medical Brigade watched from the sidelines of the Child, Youth and School Services field as Jaydin practiced his kicks and Lilly kept up with a game of touch rugby. Lilly, also active in gymnastics and cheerleading, could be spotted tumbling during the rugby camp instruction.

It was JBLM rugby coach Nick Punimata’s idea to bring the Serevi youth camp on base. The Seattle-based organization worked with CYSS and JBLM Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation to organize the two-day camp. Josh Young, Serevi youth programmer and Washington, director supervised the camp along with Carly MacKinnon, a coach and event coordinator.

“It’s a fun, active camp,” Young said. “We set the ground rules of have fun, have a good attitude and be respectful.”

The ruggers ranged in age from 6 to 14 and only one of the 14 participants had rugby experience. The coaches spent the first day introducing fundamentals of the game and implementing fun games. After lunch break the kids were active competing in team games such as touch rugby and ultimate rugby. The morning clouds burned off half-way through the six-hour camp and several breaks were taken for water and sunscreen.

“Is it hot out here or what?” one participant said under the shade of the Serevi tent.

Water breaks turned into water fights but the coaches wrangled the kids back onto the field to finish out the first day. The following day, Young and MacKinnon built from lessons taught the first day and added more advanced skills.

“One thing we say about rugby is that it’s the ultimate sport,” Young said. “In this game you can run, pass the pass, kick the ball. The biggest reason we’re out here is for the kids to have fun and be active. So kids can be healthy getting a workout, meeting friends and building their confidence up.”

Young, a former collegiate player, is a coach while MacKinnon plays rugby for the Washington State University women’s club team. It wasn’t until she was 18 that MacKinnon was introduced to the game of rugby. She said she wished she could have learned at her campers’ ages.

Young hopes word spreads about the camp so the organization can plan for more youth rugby activities at JBLM in the future.

“Rugby is a pretty universal sport around the globe, so it doesn’t matter where families come from, they’ve been exposed to rugby,” Young said.

Checking out our youth rugby camp photo gallery in the Northwest Guardian's multimedia section for more action.