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Life lessons on the rugby field

Posted on July 7, 2018 by Sonoma Valley Sun

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By Cat Smith | Special to The Sun

“It’s not about dropping the ball, it’s about what you do after”

If you are around the tiny “ruggers” at Maxwell Park on any given Wednesday, you’re sure to hear Coach Kevin say this exact phrase to the kids. In the game of rugby or in life, do you go back and pick up that ball? Or do you walk away because it just doesn’t matter?

“It does matter,” says Kevin Brown, local realtor with Vanguard Properties and newest volunteer coach of the Boys & Girls Club of Sonoma Valley. “I will never be cranky at a player for dropping the ball. But if they give up on their teammates, I will be. On the field, they have a commitment to each other.”

Team is the heart of the Coed Youth Touch Rugby Program at the Club. The trial program last April was such a success, Brown was invited to return for a summer program.

“The kids in the last program had an amazing time!” Said Mindy Neves, athletic director at BGC Sonoma. “We have been so fortunate to have Kevin, a local rugby enthusiast and coach, work with our members to introduce them to a sport that is completely new to them. They are being exposed to teamwork, conditioning, toughness, speed, development, pride, and confidence through this no contact opportunity while learning the game with ease!”

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A veteran of the sport, Brown has played rugby for over 30 years, beginning in the off-seasons of his high school football days. He quickly found this game to be a better fit for him. “In traditional sports, your job is to go out and do something, and you either fail or succeed. There are a set play and a plan.”

“Rugby,” he continues, “is spontaneous, fast-paced, and there are rules that everyone adheres to, but there’s a lot more independent thought and direction. I found that very exciting.”

After playing rugby for Saint Mary’s College, he coached at Marin High School. In Sonoma Valley, many locals refer to him fondly as “Coach Kev” from his days coaching a rugby club here, which drew not just from Sonoma Valley High School, but also students from Marin and Napa. He is the current president of the 501c3, Napa Valley Rugby; a club he founded with Paul Hughes, a former player/student of his.

“The people I’ve met at the Boys & Girls Club truly care about their students and want to make a difference in their lives. I wholeheartedly support that and want to do the same.” Said Brown.

Neves also added, “We truly believe that exposing kids to multiple sports opportunities increases their likelihood of sticking with sports longer and throughout their lives!”

Coed Youth Touch Rugby happens every Wednesday from 5.-6 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club of Sonoma Valley. It is a drop-in program for BGC members. No experience is necessary and there are only two rules for the tiny band of ruggers. Respect is the first. “Respect of yourself, respect the players, respect the rules.” And two, “Have fun!”


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