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Rugby NJ Names Honorary State Players

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Rugby NJ Names Honorary State Players

In 2014 Rugby New Jersey established our first class of Honorary All State Players. 

These selected student athletes played rugby during their High School years in New Jersey and went on to play in College. 

We surveyed college coaches across the country and obtained nominees for our honorary all state collegiate team. These students have shown leadership on and off the pitch, have mentored teammates and peers, showed dedication to their school and team. 

This is a very honorable achievement. 

To date we have inducted 36 student athletes who been inducted into the Rugby NJ Honorary All State Team. 

At our Awards Dinner on June 17, 2019 we announced our 2019 Class of Honorary All State Players. You can review the 2019 Class below. 

You can find a complete  list of our Honorary All State Players since 2014  on the website. 

Sabreen Huzien    Montclair State University 

Sabreen Huzien played rugby for Morris Rugby. She started in her Junior year of high school and her athleticism was noted immediately. 

Sabreen is currently playing rugby at Montclair University. Here are the words of Coach Anna Gilea.  

“Sabreen was integral to our success this year in winning the Tri-State Central Division Conference championships in 15s and placing 3rd in the Tri-State 7s Championships. As one of the only players on the field with prior rugby experience, she took an important role in guiding her teammates, stepping into various roles outside her position, and always doing extra without being asked. She earned All-Conference honors for her performance and was also named Player of the Year for Montclair State Rugby Club. Sabreen is representative of the benefit high school rugby affords college programs, and always used her experience to the benefit of the team, rather than to benefit herself”.

Mia Lancelotti   Penn State University 

Mia Lancelotti started her high school career with Union and completed it with Morris Rugby. 

Mia’s fierce competitiveness was noted in every minute she played. 

Mia is a member of the nationally recognized Penn State Women’s Team. She has worked extremely hard to come back from an ACL injury that occurred in preseason of her freshman year.

Here is a summary of Coach Daley’s nomination. “Mia, as a sophomore, is a well-respected leader on the team who not only leads by example but is always putting the team and her teammates before herself.  in my mind she embodies the values of rugby”. 

David Slade   Marist College 

David played for Morris Rugby in High School. Today he was nominated by his coach James Kimberly the head coach at Marist College. Here is David’s nomination from Coach Kimberly. 

“Dave came to us as a transfer and had an immediate impact. It was obvious that his experience in the Morris Rugby youth program had served him well. Dave was nominated and won our Defensive Player of the year for Fall 2018. He is at every practice, every game and always shows up for his teammates.  He answers every question with “yes sir” and honestly if I had 15 of him, I would feel great about my team. Dave plays Inside Center, Flyhalf, Outside Center and Fullback. I believe a great deal of our teams’ success is credited to Dave's team first mentality”. 

Jenny Stumpf   St. Bonaventure 

Jenny comes from a rugby family beginning her flag rugby career with the Morristown Colonials and moving to the Morris Girls HS team as an 8th grader.  She has just completed her freshman year at St. Bonaventure’s and has made an impact on her team. 

Here is Coach Picard’s Nomination. 

“Jenn contributed to the team throughout the fall 15s season starting 5 matches, but especially stood out during our winter conditioning and into spring 7s season. She was our most improved freshman in the weight room. By the end of the spring Jenn made our roster for 7s nationals and appeared in two matches off the bench at the NSCRO 7s Championship in Pittsburgh, PA. We're excited to see her continue to develop this summer and make an even bigger contribution as a sophomore. She also achieved Dean's List recognition academically”.

Luka Heinrich   St Peter’s Prep 

Luka played rugby at St. Peters Prep which has a long history of High School Rugby in NJ as they had the very first team. He is currently playing at Fairfield University. 

Coach O’ Connor has been most impressed with Luka’s leadership qualities. 

“As the team captain, whose playing ability is exemplary, he displays qualities of leadership on and off the field. Most importantly he guides and sets the “right example” for his teammates”. 

Jack Huscher   - Mt. St. Mary’s University  

Jack Huscher, a graduate of St. Augustine HS and a current player at Mt. St. Mary’s. 

Jack is a product of a rugby powerhouse in NJ. St Augustine has made a commitment to the game of rugby and their students. In return opportunities are growing for the boys committed to the rugby team. This is a testament to the past and present coaching staff at St. Augustine and school administration.

Here is the nomination submitted by Coach Jay Myles of Mt. St. Mary’s 

“Jack played for St. Augustine Prep and now represents them well as a member of Mount Rugby. He entered as a freshman this year and made an immediate impact as a front rower on the first 23. He then worked extremely hard in the off season and made the final cut for our 7s team. He displays phenomenal leadership attributes on and off the pitch and will be an integral part of our program moving forward”.

Angelo Gurcsik - Mt. St. Mary’s University 

Angelo Gurcsik is another strong graduate of St Augustine and now playing at Mt. St. Mary’s. 

Coach Jay Myles is very happy with the St. Augustine / Mt connection not only on the rugby pitch but the academic / leadership attributes these boys bring.

Here is a summary of Angelo’s nomination by Coach Myles. 

“Angelo played for St. Augustine Prep and is making them proud as a member of Mount Rugby. He entered as a freshman this year and was able to fight for playing time with our first side. He was already talented player but, has truly dedicated himself to becoming the best player possible and his skill and strength have steadily increased due to his work ethic. Angelo was also just inducted to the National Society for Leadership and Success”!

Nick Ballas   St. Joseph’s University  

Nick Ballas started played for Union Rugby Mudturtles. As a strong committed player, he makes opportunities happen. 

He is currently playing at St. Joe’s University in Philadelphia. 

Nick has been a starting prop at St. Joseph's University setting the tone up front for 40 plus matches during his college career. Nick has become one of the leaders on the Hawk's who made two trips to their national finals in 2017 and 2018. A dominate all conference player who has proven NJ is a true breeding ground for rugby players.

Michael Sweetman – Fairfield University 

Michael was a graduate of the Delbarton School where he excelled on the rugby field and his academic and leadership abilities. 
At Fairfield, Coach O’Connor states, “Michael was a team captain who lead by example on and off the field. He is an honor student and is to be enrolled in the USA Rugby Collegiate Academic Honor Roll. On the Rugby pitch , Michael is now exploring playing in the MLR. 

Allison Bronander   The College of New Jersey 

Allison Bronander played flag with Westfield Rugby Club and High School rugby with the Union Mudturtles. Allison’s nomination came from Anna Gildea the coach of the Union Women’s Program whom Allison has played for when TCNJ is not in season. 

Allie has been a part of rugby NJ since her flag days in Westfield NJ. She stuck with a waning Union HS program and continued the game in college, often jumping into practices with Union women's team just so she could play more. She started her freshman year as flyhalf for a TCNJ team that prided an undefeated regular season and made it the farthest in MARC playoffs. As a freshman, Allie has been named backs captain for 2019.

Ciara Sharkey – Marywood University 

Ciara played rugby with the Long Valley Wolfpack, one of the flag programs under the Morris umbrella then moved on to the Morris Girls HS Team. Ciara leadership qualities gained momentum throughout HS and she was named captain in her senior year. 

Coach John Gulden at Marywood nominated Ciarra. Here is his nomination. 

 “Ciara was the heart and sole of our team this year. From day one she was a leader and quickly gained the respect of her fellow teammates even the underclassman. She was elected team captain unanimously by her teammates and the coaching staff. Ciara rarely missed practice and if she did it was because she is in the Air Force ROTC, where she excelled and was in the top of all her age group for all her fitness testing. With the experience she has playing rugby she could have easily slacked off knowing we are a new team and have low numbers, but that's not Ciara. Ciara pushed herself and her teammates to continually get better. There was one day at practice this year I sent the girls to get a water break, next thing I know they were running laps. I looked at Ciara and the other captain and they said they would explain after practice. After practice I sent them to do their cool down and next thing you know they are doing 20 some burpees again Ciara and the other captain said they would explain. Finally, they tell me that they wanted to start holding each other more accountable to for their mistakes like not running onto the ball when receiving or bad passes/dropping the ball when working on their hands, so they said from now on they would run a lap every time someone doesn't run onto the ball or do some kind of exercise every time they drop the ball or make a bad pass. As a coach I have never had captains take it upon themselves to hold the team accountable and want to improve (granted I am a younger coach). Even when some of the girls were not thrilled this was happening, they still had enough respect for their captains to do the extra work. This must be one of the proudest moments I have had, and probably will ever have as a coach. It has been a pleasure to coach a player like Ciara, not just because she is a great rugby player but because she is a great person, she excels at everything she puts her mind to. She was one of the hardest working girls on the team. Lastly, Ciara was also named to our conference All-Star 7s team where we went down to Florida to play in the NSCRO National All-Star Championship. Not only was Ciara named a starter, but she was named co-captain of the team. Out of 12 All-Star teams from around the country she must be one of the few freshmen competing. Ciara has also excelled in the classroom our team’s average GPA is a 3.4 and she is one of the team representatives for SAAC (our student-athletes affairs program). Ciara played for Morris Girls Rugby. It has been a pleasure to coach Ciara and I can't wait to see how much she grows in the next three years.”

Max Steffen Fairfield University 

Max Steffen played rugby at St Peter’s Prep and has been a strong member of the Fairfield University Team. 

Coach O’Connor from Fairfield states, “Max is a young, talented rugby player with the desire to improve and is a good role model for those around him”.

Michael Dywer – Loyola Maryland University 

Michael started his rugby career at St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City. 

As a student at Loyola, Michael was a four year starter who cemented his legacy at Loyola by being a dependable and consistent student athlete. From a rugby perspective Michael played front row and was our first receiver on most penalty plays and in our neutral zone offense. Mike has won our coveted Unsung Hero Award in the Fall of 2017 & 2018. This award exemplifies leadership, impact, and dependability. This year Mike worked extremely hard on his fitness and this was evident as he he played 65-80 minutes every match including the Sweet 16 match against a very fast program. Mike brings a humor that lightens the mood and brings a smile to all. Mike has a full load on his plate, he has managed to balance rugby, mentoring underclassmen who are finance majors, heading home to NJ to volunteer at the Covenant House and intern at UBS. Mike was able to secure a full time role at UBS and ensure all of the finance majors on our club maintain a 3.0. We will miss Mikes presence on and off the pitch, but we know for sure he will give back to this beautiful game.