IN Shaler Summer 2017 - Page 34

Drake Church scoring a try in the team's win at Moon this season (14 to 7). North Pitt United Rugby Club introduces young athletes to classic game. BY JENNIFER BROZAK 32 724.942.0940 TO ADVERTISE | Shaler W hile rugby football has been around since the 19th century, young athletes in Pittsburgh’s north suburbs have had little opportunity to play the sport—until now. Now in its second season, the North Pitt United Rugby Football Club is flourishing at the varsity boys level, with hopes to add a junior varsity boys team in the near future. This also is the inaugural season for the varsity girls team. The club’s mission is to introduce the centuries-old sport to young athletes, says organization founder and varsity boys coach Jesse Danka. “The goal is to introduce the younger generation to the amazing sport of rugby and teach them valuable life lessons through the sport, both on and off the pitch,” explains Danka. “We’re trying to develop respectful ladies and gentlemen who will give back to their communities.” The club’s motto—“Live Like a Gentleman (Lady), Train Like a Warrior, Play Like a Champion, Conquer the Day”— is reflected in that purpose, he notes. “We’re always working on our players as individuals, as well as rugby players,” Danka says, pointing out that the club is currently running a curriculum called “Coaching Boys into Men,” which focuses on education about domestic violence. Players from numerous schools throughout northern Allegheny County are invited to participate. Current members include players from Northgate, Avonworth, North Hills, Shaler Area, Hampton, Deer Lakes, North Allegheny, Pine-Richland, North Catholic, Seneca Valley and Mars. The team currently has 27 varsity boys and 14 varsity girls. Interested athletes are invited to join the club at any point in the year. The club competes within the state-sponsored Old Sport,