TRAVERSE CITY — The Blues are looking for a few good men.
Actually, just a few more.
The Traverse Bay Blues are a little over a week from their opening rugby games of the season, and coach Matt Szatkiewicz is still on the recruiting trail.
The Blues currently have 24 players, and average between 10 and 15 at each practice session due to work commitments.
"Obviously, the more players we can get out, it gives us more options," Szatkiewicz said.
With 15 players needed to field a full team, it's difficult for the team to scrimmage in practice, so instead much of their training consists of individual skill development and conditioning.
"Rugby is two 40-minute halves of continuous play," Szatkiewicz said, "so fitness is a big aspect of the game."
The team practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the lower TC West Junior High field, and Szatkiewicz said no experience is necessary to play. Interested players can show up to practice or contact the team at www.tcrugby.com/contact.
"We've been slowly building the number of guys," Szatkiewicz said.
The Blues were 2-5 last year with a fairly young squad.
"Last year, we had lost a lot of players either going off to college or having them move away to find work," Szatkiewicz said. "So last year, we were looking at eight to 10 of our guys who had just begun to play or just had one year under their belt. This year, we will have a fairly inexperienced squad, but we do have quite a few players from last season coming back, which always helps. They have developed a continuity and familiarity with each other that really does well on the rugby pitch."
Eleven of the team's players are in their first or second year.
Some of the team's top returning players include prop forwards Derek Councilor and Nick Pfropper, scrum half Josh Benghauser, flanker Dave Wenkle, back Eric Pfropper and Scottish fly half Jim Turnbull. Veteran Craig Fortuna was selected as team captain.
The team's schedule kicks off with the eight-team Cherry Pit Rugby Tournament on Aug. 18, including squads from Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Detroit, Chicago and the Tri-City area, as well as Central Michigan University and Michigan State.
The day before, the team is hosting a golf outing at Elmbrook Golf Course to held raise funds for the program, which also includes youth squads. The 1 p.m. event includes dinner and golf for $75. For more information on the event, contact Darric Newman at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.tcrugby.com.
TRAVERSE CITY — The Blues are looking for a few good men.
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