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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Rugby Washington Receives Significant Donation

Rugby Washington recently received a gift of $15,000 from rugby parent and local real estate entrepreneur Vance Hill. The donation will allow more kids to play rugby and enjoy the game we all love. We spoke with Hill and Rugby Washington Executive Director Susan Michaels about the gift.

TIAR: Donating $15,000 is a significant amount of money. What made you want to give?
Vance Hill: In all honesty, I have always been a big proponent of the "Go Big or Go Home" mentality. When I commit to something, I commit all the way. It was the only way I could see really making a difference for the organization. Sky's the limit on where we can take Rugby WA and make it the premier Rugby organization in the US. Who knows, maybe this relationship can grow around the country and ultimately to USA Rugby and our Eagles. #BlueNation

TIAR: How do you think rugby has impacted your family?

VH: It has helped us meet some amazing families. Being from Texas we don't really know a lot of people. We've met a few here and there and they are great! However, getting involved in Rugby has certainly afforded our family to meet some very cool and amazing people with a lot of things in common. Funny story, our new President of Rugby WA and I grew up on the same side of town in El Paso, TEXAS. Turns out he lived just a couple of blocks from my Uncle and his family. He went to the same elementary school and juinior high as a lot of my friends. I am sure we would have met in high school had he still been there. It's a SMALL WORLD! Some great friendships have been made all around and in all honesty, I didn't expect to meet this many wonderful people. It has been such a fantastic experience with so much more to come!
Take the jump to read more.

TIAR: Do you have any specific goals for the money?

VH: I do, however, it's not about me or what I want. The money is more for what Rugby WA needs it for. I could say "I want it earmarked for this or that" and make it all about me, OR I can just let them do what they do best and use for what they see makes the most sense for the organization.
TIAR: Where do you think rugby will be in Washington State in five years?

VH: Considering it's the fastest growing sport in the USA right now; with more and more integration between Rugby and the NFL, with the help of companies like Atavus of course, I can see the sport's popularity growing rapidly. I can see it being as popular as NFL in 5 years. We have the Olympics next year to draw a big crowd and help bring the awareness to those that may not have cared before. We have the World Cup going on right now, the 7's tournament coming up next March with a stop in Vegas and then right up the road in Vancouver (which I will be going to BTW)...many factors playing key roles that if played and marketed in the right way, can really help the game grow. Our population is super diverse all around the country and with that comes interest in more sports than just our MLB, NBA and NFL. Look at the MLS. Just 10 years ago it was a joke. Nobody cared. We had a few teams around the country and then BOOM. It exploded. I think the same will happen with Rugby. Just faster.
TIAR: How exciting is it for you to gt such a generous donation?

Susan Michaels: We have never had such a large gift and I was embarrassingly giddy!  I saw the giant check made out to RugbyWA and I was ready to throw it in my van and go deposit it.  We've never had such a huge financial support such as this.  As most non-profits, we try not to loose too much, so to have a bit of a cushion is a sigh of relief!

TIAR: What are the plans for the donation?

SM: It is our responsibility to grow the game of rugby in the state of Washington.  We'll use some for marketing and some for safety.  We want to reach out the the community centers and the youth clubs to try Rookie Rugby, which is the non-contact version, and we'll be able to supply flags, balls, and maybe some t-shirts!

TIAR: Do you think the donation is a sign of trust in the Organization?

SM: Vance is a long time rugger and the father of a young player.  He wants the organization to grow and continue to develop new teams and new opportunities for kids of all ages to  play the sport.  Spokane is part of RugbyWA of course and our Eastern Commissioner has acquired 40 new players from the local high school.  More rugby balls, more cones, more of everything.  It's kind of a great problem and this donation takes the pain out of getting the items we need to play.

TIAR:  Where do you think rugby will be in Washington in 5 years.

SM: 5 times bigger!  Really, we have about 1100 kids now, so why couldn't we have 5000 kids playing some or all 3 seasons of rugby!  Not every kids plays fall football or runs spring track or goes to school in the summer.  Our infrastructure will need to expand but why not!  I've taken several emails in the last couple of weeks of guys wanting to play but are too old for our organization.  We have kids from 3rd grade to seniors in high school.

Our name suggests we either have teams for all ages or we know where they are and can link players to teams and places.  Why not!

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