MCRC Update

2015-2016 was another outstanding year for the MCRC, as the boys in blue enjoyed success both on and off the pitch. This season, the MCRC expanded its community engagement after Raouf Belkhir ’17.5, with the help of Forest Wallace ‘17, established a successful partnership with the Charter House Coalition. The Charter House provides food and shelter to food-insecure and disenfranchised Addison County residents. Each Sunday MCRC members prepare a free grilled lunch for local residents. In this year alone, the MCRC served over 1200 meals and our efforts were recognized through a nomination for an Excellence in Student Leadership Award. The club also continued its long-time association with the Vermont Epilepsy Foundation by supporting their annual Casino Night and Big Chill fundraisers. 

After welcoming two new teams, New England College and Fairfield University, into the East Coast Rugby Conference, the Blue finished with a 3 – 5 record during the fall 15s season. Wins were recorded over UConn, Fairfield, and Albany, with loses to NEC, AIC, Boston College, UMass, and Northeastern. Cole Baker ’16 and Jackson Bock ’19 were honorable mentions for all-conference recognition. Additionally, Middlebury was awarded the sportsmanship award. 

In the spring, the MCRC elected to focus entirely on 7s rugby and saw significant success. The spring season started with a training trip hosted and organized by Natalie Judge P’16.5 in St. Petersburg, FL. After a week of hard work the side took on the Empire rugby conference in Stony Brook, winning the plate final after a narrow pool play loss to rugby powerhouse Kutztown University (12 – 14). The side continued their success by winning the plate final at the ECRC conference tournament and a plate final loss to Colgate at the Kutztown 7s. The season ended on a high note as the side took home the cup at the Chris Munn 7s ALS awareness tournament hosted by Norwich University. The second side also excelled, showing tremendous development over the season and took home the second-side first place trophy at the Kutztown 7s. 

The MCRC said farewell to Props Cole Baker and Chad Kahn, Flanker Griffin Jones, Flyhalf Tucker Hopkins, Center Ted Benge, Wings Sander Mora and Sam Schwarz, and second-side members Shak Mullings and Will Schwartz. 

The 2015-2016 school year welcomed many new faces to the MCRC, including five players with prior rugby experience: Flankers Alex Hogenhuis, Gad Kibet and Doug Wilson, Fullback Henry Kremer, and Flyhalf Kwame Mukasa. With an additional 17 new members that experienced rugby for the first time with the MCRC, the MCRC is poised for success in the future seasons. 

The last 18 months have been a period of significant transition due to the departure of both former coaches, Ben Wells and John Philips. After some uncertainty, the MCRC was able to retain Pete Sickle as head coach for the fall season. Pete currently resides in Tel Aviv, Israel and was incredibly generous with his time, passion, and commitment to Middlebury rugby. Despite being away from his wife and two daughters for an extended period of time, he was an extraordinary asset during his time with the Blue. Unfortunately, after the fall season Pete was forced to return to Israel, despite his strong desire to continue with the MCRC. 

After a potential coaching hire fell through just days before the spring season, the MCRC were lucky enough to benefit from the continued support from forwards coach Junior Tuiqere and the addition of Franklin Dean-Farrar. Franklin joined the men’s team after a year away from the Middlebury Women’s program, which he helped coach for the previous five seasons. Because Franklin also serves as the Operations and Events Manager for the Athletic Department, he was unable to fully commit to the fall season and the MCRC continued searching for a long-term coaching solution. 

To help lead the program now and into the future, we are excited to announce the hiring of Kerry Wiebe. Kerry was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and was first introduced to rugby in high school. Playing mostly in the centers, Kerry was selected to the City, Provincial and national Canadian sides at the U19 and U23 levels. He graduated from the University of Alberta with a degree in Athletic Therapy and continued his education at Palmer Chiropractic College in Davenport, Iowa. At Palmer, where he was under scholarship as a rugby player, Kerry played in the highest domestic competition in the US, making it as far as the Final Four of the USA Division I Men’s Club National Championships.  In 2001 Kerry and his wife moved to Burlington, Vermont to open a private Chiropractic practice. He joined Burlington Rugby in 2002, playing several seasons with their men’s side and also coached their backs for two seasons. In recent years, Kerry has stayed involved, providing medical coverage at their home games. With a strong coaching staff that includes Kerry and Junior, the MCRC is poised for success this year and into the future.  

Within the coming weeks we will have several different announcements including the Fall 2016 schedule and details about our 2016 Alumni Weekend. In the mean time, please save the date for Alumni Weekend, which will be held during Homecoming on September 23rd-25th. We are going all-out for our alumni this year, making it the most elaborate and rewarding alumni weekend in our time at Middlebury, so please save the date. Details to follow soon.

Thank you for your continued support! Go Blue!