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Inside the Olympics – Recollections of Rio

Play Rugby USA welcomed Olympic 7s stars Kelly Griffin, Madison Hughes, the Women’s and Men’s Captains, as well as speedster Perry Baker to New York City this week to learn more about and help raise support for our youth development programming!

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Perry and Madison were eager to meet our students upon their arrival Monday afternoon at a 7s skills clinic held at Columbia University’s Baker Field. 35 student athletes gathered to meet the 7s Stars, representing youth programs from throughout the city, including our own Manhattan RFC and NY Academy, as well as a handful from New Jersey programs. As a kickoff for the evening, Perry and Madison were joined by Nate Augspurger, who was a traveling alternate for Team USA in Rio and a current YDM for Play Rugby USA. The three answered questions from students, many of whom have aspirations of one day becoming Olympic athletes themselves,

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Following the Q&A the Olympians eagerly got involved in the practical portion of the 7s clinic, with the help of our Community Olympic Development Program Coaching Staff. Nate Augspurger lead the charge in the passing continuity activity, showing he’s a not only a talented athlete, but a positive and effective coach, while Ryszard Chadwick and Joe Kelley worked alongside Perry and Madison to facilitate the other activities.

The session ended with a few rounds of 8v8, where Perry and Madison jumped right in, and Perry  was even stepped by the NY Academy’s own Shifty…can’t believe it? We’ve got it on video!

The following day we welcomed Kelly to join Madison and Perry at our ‘Recollections of Rio’ event hosted at The Cornell Club. The fundraising event was aimed at raising vital funds for our Community Olympic Development Program (CODP) following its inaugural season. The event was attended by a variety of board members, donors, sponsors and Sevens Rugby fanatics.

Following a three-course meal, the three Olympians were then brought up for a Q&A session with Play Rugby USA’s own funnyman Dallen Stanford. The three Team USA Stars talked about their experiences at Rio, how they fell in love with Rugby and some of their early memories in the game. A video of  the Q&A session is available below. CODP members Noah Geltman and Calaysha Byrd also spoke about their experiences so far in the CODP program and how they were also introduced to the game.

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With auction items on offer like a signed Australian Women’s Sevens jersey, a trip to Tuscany and balls signed by the Olympic attendees, the event helped raise some of the important funds required to carry out the CODP program.

We would like to say a huge THANK YOU to the Olympians Madison Hughes, Kelly Griffin and Perry Baker, Olympic squad member Nate Augspurger and MC Dallen Stanford for their contributions to the success of the two events.

Another huge Thank You to our table sponsors, your generosity last night raised an incredible $50,000 which directly supports our local programs and the thousands of youth they serve each year. We are overwhelmed with gratitude for this incredible accomplishment, and can’t wait to put those dollars to work. Your generous contribution provides the critical funds needed to provide programming that supports our mission to use the unique power of rugby to inspire and empower youth, primarily from underserved communities, to Go Forward and realize their true potential.

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