New year, new me

Westmont’s oldest club gets a fresh perspective.

Aaron Best, Staff Writer

There comes a time in every athlete’s life when they ask, “Why am I playing?” Athletes need to ask this question. It helps create goals, it keeps them motivated, and it gives a reason to keep playing when they start to doubt themselves. Rugby players tend to ask this question sooner than most. When the final whistle blows and they walk off the field, broken and bloody, the first question they ask  is this: “Why did I do that to myself?” Hopefully, they have an answer.

Historically, Westmont Rugby has been full of rough-and-tumble, hard-hitting men. The same is true of the team today. They’re tough, ready to battle, they know exactly who they are when they step on the field, and they know exactly why they’re playing. This stability hasn’t always been the case, though. For a long time, Westmont Rugby struggled to get men to show up to practice and to games. The few that showed up didn’t share the same tenacity that the rugby team was known for in the past. 15 men must show up to play a rugby match with no substitutes. At times, the team would show up with just eight men. This combination of factors almost led to the end of the club during the 2019 season, but, seemingly overnight, something changed. There was exceptional growth during the beginning of the 2020 season. Eight players turned into 18, then to nearly 30. The wins started to stack up. In an instant, the rugby team seemed to have turned over a new leaf.

By growing a good team ethos and honoring the mission and vision statement of the team, more respect will be brought to the team.”

— SEUN AFOLAYAN

Then COVID-19 hit and didn’t allow the team to practice or play games. Westmont Rugby is a club sport, so it’s not able to take the same measures as varsity sports to ensure they can compete safely. So how does Westmont Rugby reorient itself after another unexpected turn? 

I asked lifetime rugby player and Westmont Rugby team leader, Seun Afolayan, what this new challenge means to the team. He said, “I wanted to use this opportunity as a means of taking Westmont Rugby to greater heights … the motivation to win or to make the important tackle in crucial moments was seriously lacking.” 

The rest of the team reflects this mindset too. The motivation to play well and get the student body involved is higher than ever. Westmont Rugby is ready to demonstrate that they are driven, hardworking, and up for any challenge. 

Afolayan said it best: “I want to leave a legacy in the rugby team. By growing a good team ethos and honoring the mission and vision statement of the team, more respect will be brought to the team. I love this sport, and I want others to share my passion.”

With this in mind, I think Westmont Rugby knows exactly why they’re playing.

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