Rugby Club spends afternoon teaching ECDC students
Lily Hough | Friday, October 2, 2009
Players from the Notre Dame Rugby Club spent their Thursday afternoon hard at work, but unlike any other fall afternoon, it wasn’t on the rugby field.
The club teamed up with Notre Dame’s Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) to organize a visit where players welcomed a change of pace from their usual aggressive game to teach the sport to a class of four-year-olds.
As a part of ECDC’s focus on hands-on and experimental learning, teachers have been arranging visits this fall from various Notre Dame athletes to share their sport with the students, Program Director Thayer Kramer said.
“These visits provide the children hands-on experiences with the equipment and the opportunity to learn about the sport from athletes who participate in the sport — an authentic way to learn,” Kramer said.
The Rugby Club became involved with the program after junior Nick Severyn responded to his professor’s request that students interested in sharing their sport with her four-year-old son’s class contact ECDC.
Severyn, who is in charge of the Rugby Club’s marketing this year, thought the activity seemed like a good opportunity to encourage interest in rugby in a region of the country in which the sport has little awareness.
“It’s definitely a chance for the team to get young children interested in the game, but it also gives the kids an opportunity to spend time with rugby players and learn all about what we do,” Severyn said. “Most of the kids have parents who are University faculty or alums, so they’re already huge Notre Dame fans and this is really exciting for them.”
The players began the afternoon explaining the rules of the game and demonstrating plays and fundamentals like passing, catching and kicking. By the end of the afternoon, the children were lined up passing balls back and forth with the players.
“Their faces lit up when they would make a good catch or throw,” Severyn said. “The team had a great time cheering them on.”
According to Executive Director Terri Kosik, the visit was mutually rewarding.
“The members of the rugby team had an opportunity to experience the interest, enthusiasm, and perspective of four-year-olds as the children learned from the athletes about their sport,” Kosik said.
Severyn also saw Thursday’s visit as a unique opportunity for the Rugby Club to give back to the Notre Dame community.
“The University has given the team so much in terms of facilities, coaching and other privileges like allowing us to compete at the Division I level,” Severyn said. “Activities like this are a good way for the team to say ‘thank you’ for everything the University has given us.”
“The visit was a great success as evidenced in the children’s questions, interest and excitement,” Kosik said. “[The rugby players] were positive, enthusiastic, and helpful and were very kind, encouraging and supportive in their interactions with the children. We look forward to a return visit next fall.”
There was, however, one part of the afternoon that didn’t run exactly according to plan.
“We stayed for a lot longer than we expected,” Severyn said. “We were having a ton of fun and lost track of time.”