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US Rugby Foundation Announces Scholarship Recipients

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US Rugby Foundation Announces Scholarship Recipients

US Rugby Foundation awarded scholarships to 23 young men and women.

The US Rugby Foundation has announced its list of 23 student-athletes who have received scholarships through their various scholarship programs.

These deserving individuals were selected based on their exceptional academic records and their demonstrated commitment to the sport of rugby. Each recipient will receive a minimum of $1,000 to help cover the costs of tuition, fees, books, and other school-related expenses.

This scholarship program reflects the US Rugby Foundation's steadfast support for rugby players at all levels of their academic and athletic development. Please join us in congratulating these 23 outstanding students on their achievements. We wish them continued success in their future endeavors both on and off the rugby field.

College Scholarship Recipients

Kaler Family Rugby Scholarship: Isaiah Little
Driven by the discipline of rugby values, Isaiah Little has found the strength to persevere both on and off the pitch. Little was introduced to the sport during his freshman year of high school. Shortly after joining a local youth club team, the world was seemingly turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic. A break in play and a lack of local teams did not dislocate Isaiah’s passion for the game and he later found a home in United Rugby Football Club in Kansas City. Little has appeared on the pitch in a variety of positions, with his favorite being at flanker. His finesse, size, and speed gained him an invitation to join the Liberty North Selects in an undefeated run at the 2023 NashBash tournament, where he was also recognized as the team’s leading defensive player. He also appeared in games with the Columbia Outlaws and gained an invitation to play with the Kansas City Blues 7s. Little will continue his academic and athletic career at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science with a specialization in cybersecurity.

Kaler Family Rugby Scholarship: Michaela Gleason
Michaela Gleason’s love for rugby is simple, like father, like daughter. Some of her earliest childhood memories are alongside the pitch watching her father play. When she turned eight, it was finally her turn to lace up her boots. Now a decade later, Michaela has played for a variety of teams over the years, including the Appleton Area Dragons Youth Rugby Club, the Mad-Town Furies, the Panther Rugby Club, the Badger Selects Rugby Academy, and the Wisconsin Girls All-Star team. Michaela’s rugby IQ paralleled her accomplishments in the classroom, having graduated from Tigerton High School in Tigerton, Wisconsin with a 3.7 GPA. She will continue her academic and rugby career at Northern Michigan University playing for the NorthStars and majoring in fisheries and wildlife management. With a love for nature and outdoors, Michaela is driven to protect and conserve the natural beauty of wildlife for generations to come.

Kevin Higgins College Scholarship: Aiden Pickston
Inspired by his father’s passion for rugby and watching his older brother take the field, Aiden Pickston was smitten by the sport at a young age. Aiden played for perennial national contender, St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, Ohio. During his tenure at St. Ignatius, he captained the lower sides to the Midwest Championships as an underclassman, clinched three state championships, and both runner-up and National Championship titles. Aiden will continue his academic and rugby career at the collegiate level at The Ohio State University. Pickston’s longstanding passion for architecture remains a significant guiding force in his collegiate academic endeavors.

Kevin Higgins College Scholarship: Dylan Saucedo
After a 10-year baseball career, Dylan Saucedo saw an opportunity to use his speed for something else besides stealing bases. At 14, he began his rugby career with the Granite Bay Rugby Middle School team, advancing to the NorCal state final in his first season. He will continue his education at the University of Utah. While playing for the Utes, he aspires to become team captain and lead the team to the top of the D1A conference. He intends to study business to support the rugby-based multimedia platform and podcast he has created. He is passionate about growing the game of rugby in the United States, saying, “As an athlete, going on tour to Ireland in April 2022 showed me that the U.S. hasn’t come close to the true tradition or spotlight of rugby by any means. To witness firsthand, high school clubs that have their own field complex and a clubhouse, with the stands packed for matches and the media all over the place, motivated me to create the same atmosphere in my home country.” 

Kevin Higgins College Scholarship: Euan Latimer
Euan Latimer’s rugby journey began at a young age while living in Malaysia, stating “Being an expat in Kuala Lumpur, rugby was the fabric that held the expat community together and introduced me to some of my closest friends.” At age five, he began his formative years with the Royal Selangor Club and then transitioned to the KL Tigers, an affiliate of the Leicester Tigers. Following his family’s decision to move to the United States, he joined Back Bay Youth Rugby Football Club where he continued to excel at fly-half. He appeared at camps and on the pitch with Eagle Impact Rugby Academy, earning his first international tour nod in 2022 and again in 2023, to Spain.  During his high school career, he founded the Laguna Beach High School Rugby Club. Euan will advance his academic and rugby career at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Kevin Higgins College Scholarship: Gabrielle Bryant
Over the past four years, Gabrielle Bryant has transformed from rugby rookie to collegiate athlete. She found rugby during her freshman year of high school and quickly hit her stride with the Try Time Rugby Club. Her rugby career has been about playing and learning as much about the sport as possible. “This sport has quite literally changed the way I live my day to day life. My life revolves around this sport. I have practice 2-3 times a week with tournaments on Saturdays, and every day I don't have training or a game, I weight lift and workout. Every aspect of my life I try and use to help me become a better player and teammate. I love this sport so much that I want my life to be about this sport.” Her hard work and determination has led her to achieve MVP honors in her junior season and an Eagle Impact Rugby Academy tour invite. She will continue to play rugby at the collegiate level while attending Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri.  She will pursue a bachelor’s degree in exercise science with aspirations of becoming an athletic trainer.

Kevin Higgins College Scholarship: Jacob Mandel
Jacob Mandel is a third-generation rugger. Mandel began his rugby career at age five with the San Diego Young Aztecs Rugby Club. As a member of the Aztecs, Jacob had the opportunity to expand his rugby horizons by traveling to New Zealand in 2018 and Ireland in 2023. He has also participated in several camps and tournaments across the United States with the Eagle Impact Rugby and Rhino Rugby Academies. He also played for the OMBAC Rugby Club and finished his high school club career with Try Time. He founded the Mission Bay High School Rugby Club and led the team to two championships as both president and co-captain. Mandel will continue his rugby career at the collegiate level while attending Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He will study robotics engineering with career aspirations of designing and building robots that improve the world.

Kevin Higgins College Scholarship: Jeremiah Odvina
Jeremiah Odvina explored rugby when he was looking to improve his tackling and game development on the football field. Soon enough, his love for rugby took over and he decided it was the game he wanted to pursue. Odvina played for Long Beach Polytechnic High School Rugby and Belmont Shore Rugby Club. He helped Belmont Shore win a 15s National Championship title and a NAI U18 Open Division title. He expanded his exposure by participating in the LA Giltinis and San Diego Legion Academies. Jeremiah will continue his academic and rugby career at Cal State Long Beach University, where he will pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

Kevin Higgins College Scholarship: Olivia George
While experiences in other athletic atmospheres led Olivia George to feel judged and discriminated against, the rugby pitch welcomed her with open arms. One practice was all it took for Olivia to find her passion. She played for the Hamilton Rugby Football Club where she served as team captain and helped lead the team to a state championship appearance. She was also awarded scholar athlete and MVP honors. She was invited to play for the Midwest All-Stars in 2020 and earned a USA Rugby East Camp invite in 2023. Olivia will attend the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse where she will study business. 

Kevin Higgins College Scholarship: Quinn Spieker
After years of watching his father play touch rugby, Quinn Spieker’s interest in the sport was sparked. He joined the San Diego Mustangs at age seven and advanced through the club to his senior year of high school. Most notably, Quinn pioneered the Francis Parker High School Rugby Club, leading as team captain and earning MVP honors on three occasions. He helped lead Francis Parker to consecutive top three finishes within the Southern California Youth Rugby Championship 7s tournament. He was recognized as the 7s Back of the Year from Southern California Youth Rugby. He will follow in his father’s footsteps, as he attends the University of California, Berkeley. While playing for the Cal Golden Bears, Quinn will pursue a career in business.

Kevin Higgins College Scholarship: Roan O'Connell
Born into a rugby family, it was inevitable Roan O’Connell would one day find his way onto the pitch. At the ripe age of five, Roan began his rugby career with the San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby Club. O’Connell’s young career would lead him to appearances with Eagle Impact Rugby Academy, the Bay Area Sharks, and Rebels. O’Connell will continue his academic and athletic career at the University of California, Berkeley. While working toward a starting spot for the perennial powerhouse Golden Bears, he intends on discovering a major that leads him to a career of service within his community.

Kevin Higgins College Scholarship: Ryan Putka
Ryan Putka began his rugby career in the third grade for the Westpark Shamrocks in Cleveland, Ohio. With the Shamrocks, he helped lead the team to several city and state championships and a handful of undefeated seasons. Once he advanced to the high school level, he played for Saint Ignatius High School. With Saint Ignatius, he helped the program to three Ohio 15s state championship titles, one national championship title, a national runner-up finish, and an Ohio 7s state championship. Following his senior season, he was selected to the USA U18 National Team to compete in the Corendon summer tour to Amsterdam. Ryan will continue his academic and athletic career at the University of Notre Dame. He will major in computer science and intends on pursuing post-graduate studies. His career goal is to become a software developer for tech giants like Apple or Google.

Meg Votta Memorial Scholarship: Barton "Harold" Hacker
Barton “Harold” Hacker began his rugby career in the fifth grade with the Dublin Rugby Club in Dublin, Ohio. At first, he did not enjoy the flag, non-contact form of the game, but once full contact began, he fell in love with the sport. As his career progressed, so did his exposure to the game playing both 7s and 15s. As he entered high school, he moved to flanker and was picked to his conference’s select team on numerous occasions. Harold graduated from The Columbus Academy in Gahanna, Ohio with a 3.76 GPA. He was a dual sport athlete, earning numerous honors on the gridiron. Hacker will attend the University of Tennessee and pursue a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology with a focus in pre-med while playing for the Volunteers.

Meg Votta Memorial Scholarship: Mykaela Reed
For Mykaela Reed, one small step out of her comfort zone led to the journey of a lifetime on the rugby pitch. While Mykaela had previously played many sports, none stuck with her until she was encouraged to attend a preseason practice for Corning Rugby Club during her freshman year of high school. With the Corning RC, she has had the opportunity to play at various positions on the field, most successfully at fullback. In her time with Corning, she helped the club place second in the 2022 New York State Championship and helped her team in becoming the first New York State Champion team in club history in 2023. She will continue her academic and athletic career at Siena College in Loudonville, New York. While playing for Siena, she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a registered nurse licensure.  


Richard A. Donelli Memorial Scholarship: Callie Rautenbach
Callie Rautenbach started her rugby career in Oxford, England. Once she moved stateside, she joined the North Pitt United Rugby Club and became a pillar in the local rugby community. She has appeared on the pitch for various teams including the West Pittsburgh Foxes and Blair United Rugby Club and was selected to high school select teams like the Allegheny Rugby Union, Pennsylvania Select Side, Celtic Barbarians (Hawkeyes Academy), and Atlantis. Rautenbach graduated from North Allegheny High School in Wexford, Pennsylvania with a 4.2 weighted GPA. She was a multi-sport athlete, garnering numerous honors in field hockey and girls wrestling. Callie will attend Penn State University where she will study criminology while playing for the elite DI club squad.

Terry O'Reilly Memorial Scholarship: Ava Reuter
A lifelong football player, Ava Reuter transitioned to the rugby pitch during her junior year of high school. Ava found a home in Eagen Rugby Club playing primarily at the #8 position. She was a two-time MVP, First-Team All-State Minnesota select player and served as team captain in her senior season. She was also named to the Minnesota 7s All-Star team. In her senior season alone, she scored 37 tries across seven regular season games. She appeared at #8 with the Minnesota Select Side team and helped lead the club to back-to-back state championship titles. Ava earned invitations to the USA U18 Rugby East Development Camp on two occasions. She will attend Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri where she will major in biology with a focus in pre-veterinary medicine.‍

William V. Campbell Memorial Scholarship: Patrick McCann
Encouraged by his football coaches to try a new sport. Patrick McCann began his rugby career during his freshman year at Xavier High School in Garden City, New York. He helped Xavier High School Rugby complete an undefeated season and also to a handful of appearances in the High School Rugby National Championships. He will continue his athletic and academic career at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.‍

Don Burgess International Scholarship: Max Stone
Max is a product of the Earl Marriott Secondary School in Surrey BC, Canada. A very skillful player from the #9 or #10 position. Captain and Club President.  An excellent leader on and off the field. Selected to the ACR All American team in 2022 and 2023. Graduating in just three years, Max will attend law school in the Fall of 2024. 

The Jeff Lombard Eagle Scholarship: Jack Martin
A flyhalf or center, Jack Martin is a Study Abroad student from Manchester Metropolitan University in England. Jack has played the game for 15 seasons including the Sale Sharks Academy, Lancashire age-grades, and his hometown club of Leigh RFC. He is a Pre Law major at Western Washington University.

Paul Horne Out of State Resident Scholarship: Oliver Kelleher
A center/fullback, Oliver Kelleher is out of Walpole, Mass. He played his rugby as a youth for the Barbarians Youth rugby in Wrentham Mass. and is an Environmental Studies major at Western Washington University.

‍Preston Worth Scholarship: Harry Moore
A back row player, Harry Moore played his HS rugby for the Eastside Tsunami in Portland, Ore. A versatile player with the speed and skillset to also play in the backs, he is also shines as a loose forward. He is an Environmental Studies Major at Western Washington University.

Preston Worth Scholarship: Joe Merlino
A prop/ lock who played his HS rugby at Camas High School in Washington, Joe Merlino was also an all-conference football player. He chose rugby, however, and suited up for the Pacific Northwest Loggers select side. He is a Cybersecurity Major at Western Washington University..

Preston Worth Scholarship:Ned O'Brien
Wing/FB. Ned is a product of the Seattle Vikings youth program. He plans on majoring in Business at Western Washington University.