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New Mexico Highlands Excels On and Off the Pitch

June 14, 2019

The Vatos rugby team from New Mexico Highlands University recently captured its third National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) 7s national championship at the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship. Through a strong team effort, the Vatos defeated the defending national champions, Claremont Colleges, at the death.

Winning a national championship is not the only way the program is excelling. The club is committed to dedicating a significant amount of time giving back to the community. To be a member of the club, each player must dedicate at least 10 hours of volunteer work each semester.

This year, the team volunteered once a week at a local elementary school as part of an after school program, helping kids with homework and teaching them rugby. Whether it is serving dinners for the Rotary Club on campus, ringing bells during the holidays or moving furniture for the local community, the Vatos are establishing a tremendous culture.

NMHU win at the 2019 Penn Mutual CRC

“It is important for our players to appreciate the importance of helping others. Playing rugby at New Mexico Highlands University is a privilege and each person on our team knows they are more than just rugby players. They are representing themselves, the University and the program in everything they do,” said program adviser Keith Maes.

One of the more recent opportunities to give back occurred at a Penn Mutual educational conference held in New Mexico.  The team boarded a bus and drove two hours to teach rugby skills to the children of Penn Mutual advisers. Held two weeks prior to the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship, the successful event foreshadowed more success on the field.

“We were honored to work with those kids. Our players loved it and we were privileged to be a part of it,” Maes indicated.

The NMHU VATOS continue to work towards sustainability and longevity of the club. Thanks to hard work, a great team culture and a commitment to community the future of the program looks bright.

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