Our youth side, with Mark Bevilacqua and Ben Allen driving it, has seen a lot of growth and we're now fielding several youth sides (and about 50 players) per tournament. We've done particularly well recruiting girls to the program by coordinating rugby events with the local Girl Scouts. Our youth side in Loudoun has been doing well too with Jorge Arias and Fernando Anduaga actively involved. Axel Arias and Fernando Anduaga,Jr., who grew up in our Loudoun Youth Rugby program, were able to go to Mexico to play on the Mexican National Side. How cool is that? A special thank you to Terri Bevilacqua who managed the off the field efforts for the WS youth club. Thank you very much for your commitment of time and energy to this club!
Our successes in the last couple of years, as well as a growing partnership with George Mason Men's Rugby, have allowed the club to perform well in D3 competition and return to D4 competition. Currently, the D3 and D4 sides are third and fourth in their respective divisions with opportunities to improve their standings in the spring. Suburbs has long been a physical team, but Coach Stephen "Zimba” Cleary is working to grow our rugby IQ and modernize our style of play with the goal of making the club more competitive on the pitch and attracting new talent.
Our fundraisers were really something this year. We coordinated a successful fundraiser in October for Drew Cartwright. For a long time, Drew has been a pillar of our club, so, when he had a stroke unexpectedly, we knew we needed to do something to recognize what he means to us. In addition to our fundraiser for Drew, we coordinated a fundraiser earlier this month for Lily Ware. Lily, who is currently battling leukemia, is the daughter of Rob Ware, our former team captain. The club and the community really chipped in to make these fundraisers a success. For donations to these two worthy fundraisers, we'd like to thank Sunset Hills Vineyards, Jeff Gardner, Jon Carter, 8 Chains North Winery, Patrick Robinson, AKG Designs, Melissa Moore at Monumental Sports, Vienna Vintner, Brian Gronkiewicz, Olive Garden, Murlarkey Distillery, Blue Ridge Grill, Jorge Arias, Picket Fence, Cheryl Kennedy, Ciao Restaurant, Bowl America, Movement Chiropractic, Tyson's Biergarten, Ono Brewing, Pinot's Palette, Custom Creations by Carlson, Melissa Ferguson Photography, Copperwood Tavern, RTIC, Tim Brown and Mary Washington Rugby, John "OD" O'Donnell, UFC Gym, Fortune House, Hopsfrog Grille, Villa Bella, Blue Iguana, Glory Days Grille, Thousand Oaks Barrel Co., Bryant Cruzado, Rappahannock Cellars, and the Washington Capitals. A special thank you to Blue Iguana for providing the venue for these events and for Laura Allen’s expert guidance in making these events a success.
Our club runs on dues and sponsorships. We endeavor to keep our costs low while offering the most opportunities to our players, but equipment, fields, training, socials, permits, and more cost money. Thank you to all of the club members for your continued support of the club and thank you to Blue Iguana, Murlarkey Distillery, StickerYou.com, MBL Technologies, and Artius Integrative Medicine for your support of our sport and program.
As for our future, we've got a lot to be thankful for as the club continues to grow and get stronger. We are no longer fielding a side or two every Saturday; we field boys and girls at the PreK/K level, 1st/2nd grade, 3rd/4th, 5th/6th, 7th/8th, and men at the D3 and D4 levels. We have about 55 youth and 70 men representing the club. With work, we will grow and add to our current sides, and rugby’s growth at Western Suburbs is truly something to be thankful for.