Notre Dame College Men's Rugby National Champions Recognized by State Legislature

Notre Dame College men’s rugby student-athletes have been honored by the Ohio General Assembly as “fine citizens” and “winners both in and out of athletic competition.”

The College team, represented by nearly 20 student members, and its head coach, Jason Fox, were recognized at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus for winning the USA Rugby Division 1AA National Championship in 2017. They were provided with authenticated copies of official resolutions adopted by the Senate and House chambers during the 132nd General Assembly 2017-2018 regular session.

In the House resolution (H.R. No. 272), sponsored by Rep. Kent Smith (D-8th District) and Martin J. Sweeney (D-14th District), the Ohio state legislature notes “the unwavering commitment of the members and their coach has earned this prestigious distinction” and that “they have emerged as winners both in and out of athletic competition.” The Eighth Congressional District is in eastern Cuyahoga County, while the 14th covers portions of the western part of the Ohio county in which the College is located.

“In an educational system that seeks to teach the future leaders of our state and nation the fundamentals of self-reliance and the rewards of individual and group effort, competition has become a valuable educational tool,” the House bill states. “Through their participation in sports, the members of the Notre Dame College men’s rugby team have learned lessons of discipline, perseverance, hard work and good sportsmanship that will undoubtedly be of great benefit to them throughout their lives.”

The Ohio State Senate also adopted a resolution (S.R. No. 290), sponsored by Sen. Kenny Yuko (D-25th District), to “salute the players and coach as fine citizens.” Ohio Senate district 25 includes parts of Cuyahoga and Lake counties in the northeast region of the state.

“The Falcons’ achievements and leadership are a justifiable source of pride and an excellent reflection on the players, their families, their school, their community and their coach,” the Senate resolution states.

“The maturity and experience the team members have gained through their participation in rugby will greatly aid them in meeting the challenges of the future,” the bill continues.

The Falcons men’s rugby team not only won the national title this season but also is advancing three levels of competition in just five years of existence. The team competed in USA Rugby Division 2 when it started but moved up to Division 1AA last year and has been promoted to Division 1A for this season.

“Coach Jason Fox has not only helped each athlete to develop his talents to the fullest but also instilled in each a valuable sense of determination, perseverance and camaraderie,” according to the Senate resolution.

The coach and students in attendance for the presentations were photographed in the rotunda of the state capital building and escorted from chamber to chamber while the Senate and House were in session at the end of November.

“I am sure this is an experience that those who went will not soon forget,” Fox said. “It was also great to hear from some of the politicians about what a wonderful job Notre Dame College is doing with their growth and how respected the College is around the state. I am sure many of them were impressed with how our student-athletes acted while they were there. It was a great experience.”

After finishing 11-0 in the regular season during 2016-2017, the Notre Dame men’s rugby team beat Bowling Green State University by a score of 39-17 for the 2016 DIAA Fall Championship. In the 2017 DIAA National Championship match, the ruggers defeated the University of California Davis 40-20 to complete a perfect 13-0 season and earn their first national title.

Between the fall and spring season, Fox was awarded 2016 Competitive Coach of the Year by USA Rugby.

"I'm so proud of the tremendous accomplishments of our men's rugby program," said Scott Swain, Notre Dame director of athletics. "Jason Fox has done a remarkable job building the program, and his student-athletes excel on the field and in the classroom."

Members of the national champion men’s rugby team scheduled to appear at the Statehouse were: Steve Ashby, Cullen Barelka, Rico Blackmon, Colin Blaha, Evan Bradshaw, Aidan Carr, Carlos Garcia, Cian Grendon, Andrew Guerra, Chris Heberden, Sam Klimkowski, Cullen Marvin, Jon McDonald, Christian Olsen, Joe Perella, Roneil Reynolds, Darren Rice, James Scurlock, Marcus Tupuola and Matt Wolens.

A few Falcon rugby alumni from the Columbus area and Tommy Walsh, graduate assistant for the ruggers, also attended the formal presentation.

December 2017

About Notre Dame College

For almost a century, Notre Dame College has educated a diverse population in the liberal arts for personal, professional and global responsibility. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1922, the College has grown strategically to keep pace with the rapidly changing needs of students and the dramatic changes in higher education. But it has never lost sight of its emphasis on teaching students not only how to make a good living but also how to live a good life.

Today, the College offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 disciplines plus a variety of master's degrees, certification programs and continuing and professional development programs for adult learners on campus and online. Notre Dame College offers NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic programs for men and women and is located in a picturesque residential neighborhood just 25 minutes from the heart of Cleveland. Hallmarks of the Notre Dame experience include stimulating academics, personalized attention of dedicated faculty and staff, and small class sizes.

Notre Dame College is located at 4545 College Road in South Euclid. For further information contact Brian Johnston, chief communications officer, at 216.373.5252 or bjohnston@ndc.edu.

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