Northeast Academy coach Josh Smith was recognized during Saturday's 2016 Coach of the Year Awards at the 2017 USA Rugby National Development Summit Awards Dinner for his work with the American Ruby Premiership senior men’s club, Mystic River RFC.
Smith took over head coach responsibilities for Mystic River at the start of the 2014-15 season, launching the club into a new era of competition. Smith then motivated his players to a history-making season the following year. The club finished its 2015-16 competitive season 10-3, winning its first Division I National Championship in 42 years in June 2016 against the Austin Blacks in a dramatic second-half comeback. Smith's coaching skills have also proved successful beyond 15s. The Mystic River Club 7s squad reached the Quarterfinals at the 2016 USA Rugby Club 7s National Championship before falling to the third-place team.
Known for highlighting the basics of the game, from tackling to pass-catch techniques, Smith distinguished himself and his athletes at Northeast Academy, propelling them towards national and international acclaim.
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The National Development Summit also included presentations and panels led by and featuring multiple Northeast Academy directors and coaches.
Rugby New Jersey President and Academy medical advisor KJ Feury's “Make Rugby a Front Page Headline” presentation provided members of the rugby community with creative and—most importantly—fun ideas to make the game a more public activity. Her presentation cited the national success of flag rugby, high school, and youth programs pertaining to sport safety, Olympic Day, and in-school activities.
Northeast Academy’s Director of High Performance Ryszard Chadwick gave an enlightening presentation on the “Rugby Advantage”—specifically, he provided a different outlook on how coaches can approach and develop their coaching philosophy in order to gain positive results. Chadwick’s message focused on developing positive connections between coaches and players.
Academy coach Koma Gandy Fischbein led a unique panel discussion exploring the evolving and increasingly significant role of rugby in the Armed Forces and featuring current and past players, directors, coaches, and high performance athletes from all five branches of service. The panel covered issues ranging from how to promote engagement at the grass-roots level in the military and veteran community, to the challenges of identifying military athletes with elite rugby potential and how to create opportunities for them to train and compete at the highest level.
The Northeast Academy is a National Development Academy sanctioned by USA Rugby as the official designated pathway to the USA Eagles National Team selection for both Men and Women in the Northeast of America. With training locations in New York City, Boston and Buffalo, the Academy offers development in three distinct areas: elite player advancement; coach education; and local union enrichment; and has the ultimate goal to augment the skills of players and coaches alike, growing the game within the EMPIRE and NERFU Unions.