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Former Nashoba Regional star Devin Doyle enjoying rugby journey – News – telegram.com

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LANCASTER — Devin Doyle applied to two colleges, and was accepted to both, prior to graduating from Nashoba Regional in 2012.

She elected to attend UMass Lowell over Purdue due to its proximity to home and her perceived lack of adventurism.

Three semesters later, Doyle dropped out and moved to California and then Colorado. Along the way she became a five-time national champion in a sport she had never played until three years ago.

“So definitely not the track I thought I was going to take,” Doyle, 25, recently said with a smile.

The second oldest in an athletic family of four, Doyle played all manner of sports growing up. There was soccer and softball, basketball and volleyball, alpine and Nordic skiing.

Doyle took a liking to martial arts in middle school and became a black belt. She began pole vaulting at Nashoba and capped her high school career by medaling at the Central/Western Mass. Division 1 Championships as a senior.

Recruited to compete in track at UMass Lowell, Doyle, a mechanical engineering major, hung up her spikes after a couple of weeks to focus on her classes. They included one in ROTC, or Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.

“I absolutely fell in love with it and what the military was doing and what it had to offer the people in it, so that’s why I ended up enlisting,” Doyle said.

Doyle joined the Air Force and was stationed at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California. She calibrated electric equipment used to maintain aircraft.

It was not only a big step in a different direction for Doyle, but her family, as well. Her parents, Sean and Johnna, both have master’s degrees while her three siblings, Joe, Haley and Keenan have graduated or are on track to graduate from four-year universities.

“So for them, for me not to get my degree was kind of a big deal,” Doyle said of her parents. “But they’re very proud of me for choosing to enter the military and they didn’t necessarily see it as off track, just a different track that I was taking.”

About a year and a half after enlisting, Doyle received a letter from the United States Air Force Academy detailing the application process. She applied toward the end of 2015 and was among the 12 percent of applicants accepted.

It was off to basic training at the elite institution of 4,200 students in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the following June.

“So when all of my friends were graduating from college I was going back into college,” Doyle said.

On one of the first days of school, a fellow cadet stopped by Doyle’s dorm room and asked if she was interested in playing rugby. On a whim, Doyle said why not.

It was love at first scrum.

“The sport was definitely interesting and I just loved the girls,” Doyle said. “It was all about the people on the team and getting to spend time with them because the Air Force Academy is very demanding on your time. You have military you have to do on top of academics and leadership that you’re learning.

“So being able to go out and play a sport in more of a relaxed environment was rewarding and I loved it. So I kept coming and the next year I got a little bit better and better and eventually I am where I am now.”

Initially a reserve player, Doyle has since become a captain and the starting scrum half — sort of the quarterback of the offense and the defense — for the Zoomies, the Air Force Academy’s hugely successful women’s club team.

Air Force won the USA Rugby Division 1 fall collegiate championship for the second straight year and the third time in the past four years with a 26-10 victory over Navy at Charlotte, North Carolina, in early December.

With Navy clamping down on Air Force’s top offensive threats, Doyle stepped up to fill the void. She scored 15 points on three tries (think touchdowns) and was named MVP of the match.

“All of them were team tries,” she said. “I think I had a total of four on the season before that game just because I’m not the one who normally takes it in. But I had my team march down the field for me and I was right there in that position.”

That capped a 9-0 season that included wins in the quarterfinals and semifinals against Indiana and Minnesota, respectively, by a combined score of 138-10 at Columbia, Missouri.

Add in national championships the last two years in the spring, when the game is played Olympic style with seven to a side rather than 15, and that makes five titles — and counting — for Doyle and the Zoomies.

“It’s awesome and I’m definitely grateful,” she said.

Doyle, who posted a 3.6 grade-point average this past semester, is scheduled to graduate in May with a degree in systems engineering. She’ll begin serving a multi-year commitment shortly thereafter.

No matter where she’s stationed, one gets the sense adventure rather than proximity is what Doyle will be seeking.

—Contact Rich Garven at rgarven@telegram.com. Follow him on Twitter @RichGarvenTG.

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USA Rugby Hoping To Soar In 2019 Rugby World Cup

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What does it mean to be a rugby player in the USA?

It goes without saying that rugby is not a mainstream sport in the land of Washington and Jefferson. There are those, no doubt, who believe it one day could be. But for the 31 men who are heading to Japan for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, they go as ambassadors of a game with which their constituents are largely unfamiliar. They go to a tournament which they cannot win.

But they can earn respect.

For the group of teammates and friends that have dedicated so much to this endeavor –an endeavor that will not bring them fame, an endeavor that will not bring them riches, an endeavor fed by nothing but their passion for the sport– that would be enough.

The World in Union

There is something moving about their journey. In a time of great international dispute and enmity, the Rugby World Cup represents a glimpse of something better. It’s a forum where people from every corner of the world, from Namibia to Uruguay to Russia to Fiji, come together and meet as opponents and as equals on a field of glory.

Which is not to say that all teams are equal, of course. Quite the contrary. Compared to the larger international landscape, dominated by global powers such as the United States and Russia, the World Cup will be a poetic reversal. Between the touchlines, it is the mighty New Zealand who reigns supreme. Former Cold War rivals USA and Russia are no more than fringe talents.

But they are equal in that each team relies on the skill and courage of their 23 best, subject to the oversight of an impartial referee enforcing a clear set of competition laws. Whether it be a rugby power like England or a semi-professional side like the Eagles, they both receive the honor and the challenge of the same Haka. And after the final whistle, they almost universally meet as friends and brothers in a fraternity that only those who have stood in the defensive line together could understand.

Appropriately, the 1995 World Cup song “The World in Union” has become the anthem of the event forevermore. Associated as it is with the end of apartheid in South Africa, there are few more touching stories in international sport. Though, despite a feature length movie (“Invictus”) and 30 for 30 (“16th Man”) on the subject, rare is the American who knows about it.


Related: TRS Book Club: Playing The Enemy: Bigger Than A Game


Everything to Gain

So what, then, is in store for the Eagles as they travel once again to the Rugby World Cup, the pinnacle of the sport held every four years? A championship?

No, certainly not. Even a berth in the quarterfinals seems so unlikely as to be nearly impossible. For a team that has produced a 3-22 record dating back to the first World Cup in 1987, the three wins it would take this year to advance to the knockout rounds is all but out of reach.

Their pool, featuring England (#3 in the world), France (#8), Argentina (#11), and Tonga (#15), seems designed to give the Eagles as few wins as possible. Currently ranked #13, no one will be expecting the Americans to challenge in their first three tests. Only the last contest against Tonga is seen as winnable, and even that, on only three day’s rest, should be very close.

And, should things go as expected, and the Eagles wear three blowouts and maybe a close loss to Tonga, they will have done just about as well as recent American entries into the World Cup.

But there’s something different this year, isn’t there? There is something different about this team. There is something different about this sport, in this country. At least, it seems so.

Call it the introduction of Major League Rugby, a professional league (though nowhere near the pay scale of major rugby nation domestic leagues) here in the states. Call it the Americas Rugby Championship, a newly revamped annual international tournament that gives this team valuable experience together. Call it the win against Scotland, America’s first victory over a rugby power since the 1924 Olympics. Call it what you will. For anyone watching, there is a hint of something to see.

With the bare beginnings of momentum for the game finally visible on our shores, the Eagles have a chance to do something no USA team has done in nearly 100 years. They have the chance to make an impact on the national scene.

Maybe not a big one. Maybe the most they can hope for is a quick segment on ESPN or a mention in your local paper. But with these first stirrings of momentum for domestic rugby, a memorable positive news clip would be vital in crystalizing the nascent trend. And that could be the most important service to the sport than any American team has ever performed.

A Lake Placid Moment

So what will it take to declare success for this World Cup?

At a minimum, a win against Tonga is a must. Another winless trip to the World Cup would be ever so disheartening with all the efforts to improve the USA Rugby program since 2015. Tonga, the only team ranked below, will be the one contest expected to be close. The Eagles must find a way to prevail so they can show measurable progress. Investments have been made in American rugby. If those investments don’t start paying out, few will follow.

But even just a win over Tonga feels like a missed opportunity. More than anything else, what the USA needs to do is show they have the potential to hang with the best. Not regularly. Not yet. But if they show that potential, even just a glimpse, the benefit to domestic rugby could be significant.

They need a Lake Placid moment.

In 1980, the USA Hockey team, made up of amateur college players, took on a Soviet team in the Olympics that was essentially a professional outfit. No one expected the USA to have a chance. But in a semifinal match at the Lake Placid Olympics, a tight-knit group of American youths reminded the sports world that it was okay to believe in miracles.

This is what USA Rugby needs. Not necessarily to win. Just to compete. Stand toe to toe with England, France, or Argentina. Go the distance. Put it all on the line for each other and for the stars on stripes on their kit.

Make a rugby power fear this sleeping giant, even just for a short while. It may not be a spot in the quarterfinals. Hell, it may not even be a win. But it would be an inspiration. And that is the best thing these young men can do for rugby in America.

Pool Play Schedule

England v USA: Thursday, September 26, 645AM ET

France v USA: Wednesday, October 2, 345AM ET

Argentina v USA: Wednesday, October 9, 1245AM ET

USA v Tonga: Sunday, October 13, 145AM ET

Craig Gridelli
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David Carroll’s News and Notes: 40 reasons to love the USA | Free Share

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This is an opinion piece.

What a country, right? As we celebrate America’s 244th birthday this week, let’s pause and list a few reasons to love America.

Thanks to cable TV and YouTube, we can still enjoy Elvis, Johnny Carson, Carol Burnett, Marshal Dillon and Hoss Cartwright, even though few people under 40 know who they are.

We have amazing first responders who respond directly to the situations the rest of us are trying to run away from.

We have news channels that lean to the left, and news channels that lean to the right. And we are not forced to watch any of them.

We have towns called Ducktown, Turtletown, Suck Creek, Gruetli-Laager, Orme, Hogjaw Valley, Rising Fawn, Talking Rock, Peavine, Nutbush, Bell Buckle, Rugby, Greenback, Bucksnort, Bugtussle, Flintstone, Burning Bush, Isabella, Box Springs, Rocky Face, Lick Skillet, Butts, Arab, Bartlebaugh, Beersheba Springs, and Scratch Ankle. I’ve been everywhere, man.

We have farmers’ markets with fresh, homegrown produce.

We have the Country Music Hall of Fame.

They still make Yoohoo, Nehi Grape, Zagnut bars, and Samoan Girl Scout Cookies.

We have the “Hot Now” sign at Krispy Kreme.

We have an American original named Dolly Parton, who shares her good fortune.

We have Betty White, Tom Hanks, and Willie Nelson. Not long ago, Willie recorded a song called, “I’m Still Not Dead.” That’s his best title since “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.”

We still have “The Price Is Right.” It’s TV comfort food.

We still have sweet tea, and southern restaurants that consider macaroni and cheese to be a vegetable.

We still have waitresses that call old men “Sweetheart.” Or, at least that’s what I’ve heard.

Even with tablets, Kindles, and all the other items that are “better” than books, we still have great libraries.

A guy in Florida who was responsible for making millions of robo-calls, ripping off folks all over the nation, has been arrested and imprisoned. It’s a start!

We still have some folks who don’t park illegally in handicapped spaces, who stop at the white line at a traffic intersection, who use their headlights in the rain, and who return their shopping carts to their stalls. We don’t have enough of those people, but we’re working on the others.

We have low gas prices. For now, anyway.

We have shopping malls. For now, anyway.

We have weather forecasting technology that can usually tell us it’s going to rain five days in advance, and can usually give us a few minutes notice on a tornado, right down to our street.

We have homegrown tomatoes, Georgia peaches, and Sugar Baby watermelons.

We have Caller ID.

We have texting. Yes, it can be annoying, but it’s a blessing when your children live far away. It sure beats long distance calls, doesn’t it?

We have record stores, so we can buy back the vinyl records we cashed in twenty years ago, before we realized vinyl was cool.

We still have nice people at convenience stores who can give us verbal directions.

We have less painful dental procedures, thanks to that wonderful nitrous oxide that makes my toes tingle.

We have school bus drivers who safely transport children to and from their homes each day.

We have root beer floats, banana splits, and hot fudge cakes.

We have chocolate chip cookies. Not the ones you buy in packages at the store. The ones fresh out of the oven. I’ll have just one more. Then another.

We have postal employees and police officers who check on elderly residents.

We have great food labeling, with information on nutrition, calories, ingredients, and expiration dates. Not that many years ago, we had none of that information.

We have “Jeopardy.” Yeah, thirty-something years after I said it wouldn’t last. “It’s too hard,” I said. And thankfully, we still have Alex Trebek, who has been battling cancer in its deadliest form.

We have online, do-it-yourself income tax services that cost next-to-nothing. I said that wouldn’t last, either. Don’t you love it when I’m wrong?

We have robotic vacuum cleaners that work, sort of. I also see robotic lawn mowers. I’m glad we have them, but I hope I never need one.

We have wheeled suitcases that really work.

We still have toilet paper. For a while there, I was starting to wonder.

We have Honey Nut Cheerios, with banana flavored Almond Milk. Talk about a guilty pleasure!

We still have newspapers, and I hope you are thankful for that. I know I am.

And, we still have a free press that seeks truth, and holds those in power accountable. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. But trust me: you don’t want the alternative.

David Carroll, a Chattanooga news anchor, is the author of “Volunteer Bama Dawg,” available on his website, ChattanoogaRadioTV.com. You may contact him at radiotv2020@yahoo.com.

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Rugby Underdogs Again, the U.S. Team Hopes to Turn a Corner

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The organization has been hampered by infighting over its mission and bad financial deals. But in the past year, the group went through an internal overhaul, replacing most of its board. Thanks in part to loans from World Rugby, the group’s finances have stabilized, freeing more money to spend on developing the amateur ranks.

“The biggest issue we have to address is mass participation and to build on that base and push them through the funnel and out the other end,” said Ross Young, chief executive of USA Rugby. “The total number of people playing rugby is increasing, but trying to retain them is a major initiative.”

Over time, Young and others hope the growth of homegrown talent benefits the Eagles’ 15-man squad much as it has aided the national men’s and women’s rugby sevens teams, which are both ranked second in the world. The men’s and women’s teams have already qualified for the Olympics next year in Tokyo.

The 15-man squad has improved, albeit more slowly in part because of the continued dominance of New Zealand, Australia and other Tier 1 nations. This year, the Eagles rose to a record 12th in the world after defeating Scotland last year, its first-ever victory over a Tier 1 nation, and knocked off Samoa, another formidable opponent.

The Eagles are 13th in the World Rugby rankings, but Gold, who led teams in England, Japan and South Africa, is focused on trying to get his team more chances to compete against elite teams and letting players develop even after setbacks. The team is also bringing in more players from the national rugby sevens squad.

Young said that he would be delighted if the Eagles “upset one of the big boys” in the group stage, but that he also would be pleased if the team simply held its own in every match. In four years, he expected the Americans to be in better position to finally break through to the knockout stage.

Young said his group was also considering bidding to host the Rugby World Cup in 2027 or 2031 to jump-start enthusiasm for the sport much the way soccer benefited when America hosted the FIFA World Cup in 1994.

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