CINCINNATI - On a crisp afternoon in Cincinnati, the Indian Springs Jets Rugby Club began defending its 2012 division 2 State Championship.
The off-season practice starts with warm up, drills, instructions and introductions, as every week new faces mix with the returning rugby veterans.
"We get a lot of kids who have never played before, which is great. They come out and get to learn the sport," said assistant coach Nick Deignan.
The Jets bring together an unlikely mix of high school rivals. The players come together from different high schools from around the area to join the same team.
Deantay Hayes, a senior at Princeton High School, believes the team has strong bonds.
"We come out here, we're a team. We're one. As Coach Nick says we play as a fist. Tight,” said Hayes.
Head Coach Hennie Pieters says size doesn't matter. He welcomes anyone who may be interested to come out and tryout for the team.
“Typically, your big burly guys, they are your forwards. They push in the scrums. And then the more slender fast, quick guys play on the back lines, the wings," Pieters explained.
Pieters remarked the skill set he looks for emphasizes attitude over aptitude.
“All you need is a willing heart, and a desire to work hard and support your team," Pieters said.
Assistant Coach Nick Deignan teaches the proper tackling techniques. He also assigns everyone to a position on the team.
“We don't want to cut anyone, so there's a varsity team, a junior varsity team and there's a freshman team we can work with," said Deignan.
Lakota East Senior Troy Smith has found a life-long passion.
"It's really become a big part of my life. I want to play this until I'm in college for club teams. It's something I really love," said Smith.
The Indian Springs Jets are continuing to practice. Regular season play gets underway in March.
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