By Patrick Francis ‘19
Being able to handle practices, homework, games, finals and so many more things can all be overwhelming at times for the student-athletes here at St. Ignatius High School. But the reason people keep playing their sports is because of their love of the game and for some, once in a lifetime perks, like traveling to different states and countries with your athletic team to compete against different high caliber teams.
This Spring sport season is going to be filled with many new experience for all the coaches and athletes in Rugby, Baseball, and Lacrosse.
One of the newer sport teams here at St. Ignatius High School, the 6 year old rugby program will be traveling to South Africa for a tournament against the best high school rugby teams in the world. South Africa, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, England, and Argentina, are just some countries represented. At the moment, the wildcats are the only American team in the tournament.
The news of the South African trip is fairly new to everyone. Coach Dan Arbeznik ‘00 was looking to local schedule for the 2018 season, not planning on leaving the country. Plans changed though right before Thanksgiving, when the Representatives of Heyneke Meyer, the former coach of the Springboks (South Africa’s national rugby union team) reached out to Coach Arbeznik, extending an invitation to play in the first-ever World Schools Festival located in South Africa.
“This is an amazing opportunity for us,” Coach Arbeznik said. “The trip presents a unique opportunity for our students to acquire a larger perspective on culture, history, and civilization.”
Along with Rugby, the Baseball team will be traveling for the first time out of the country, heading to Nettuno, Italy. The baseball team will face the very skilled Nettuno Baseball Academy team in 4 exhibition games and will be traveling to several historic cities including Capri, Pompeii, and Rome. While the baseball team is in Italy, the team will be exploring the culture, food, and historic facts of the country and it’s cities.
Though baseball is widely known and played here in the USA, it is also extremely popular in Italy. Popularity for the sport grew after World War One when it was played by the soldiers from America, then caught on to the locals of the city. The city is now called “The city of Baseball” by many.
The lacrosse team, under new head coach Gary Cintron, will leave for California on March 30th to play against 3 very skilled LAX teams from the Southern California region.
The Wildcats will face Coronado High School, Torrey Pines High School, and Loyola (LA) High School while there. All three of these programs are well-respected in the sport of lacrosse. Loyola LA and Torrey Pines near the top of last season’s final Under Armour / Inside Lacrosse high school lacrosse rankings, coming in at the No. 4 and No. 5 teams in the entire West region.
The experiences that these men will experience will be unforgettable. It is put best by athletic director Rory Fitzpatrick;
“Playing premier teams is great, but the goal of this type of trip is to expose our students to new experiences, ideas, and cultures, expanding their worldview along the way.”