Atlanta, Georgia – On July 16, 2020, ‘The RATL Roundup’ hosted the second part of our Summer Residency Camp series, and featured the coaches who took part in the learning experience down here in the 404. Involved in the camp were coaches from the University of Washington, Western Washington University, the University of Louisville, Kennesaw State University, and USA Rugby South. After presenting to the coaches an onboarding meeting of our values, and with a presentation on leadership from coach Scott Lawrence, our visiting coaches witnessed four days worth of camp: before they had the chance to sit down in the redeveloped business side of our headquarters to comment on what they had seen.
From the start of the group’s discussion, what stood out from the first presentation was how player-driven the organization is, and how our values of PACE are embodied by all of our players, from the professional athletes of Rugby ATL to developing players in the 404, to the players brought into the Pathway 404 camp. In each group, the players are trusted to exercise their creativity: they define what they want their legacy to be, through choice symbols and words, before bringing the rest of the organization together into alignment under a united ethos.
One of the most beneficial things to take away from the camp so far came from the fact that these principles on organizational conjunction and clarity are reliable, in that they may bring greater value to any level of rugby, sports performance, or organizational structure in general. We’ve allowed our players to help create an environment that benefits both our franchise and our greater community, and how our coaches have managed to facilitate that for our group is through nothing but hard work and a constant attention to detail. As the player group begins to evolve, coaches must continue to articulate, and keep the players clear on their roles for a proficient execution.
Atlanta, Georgia – Following the success of last month’s inaugural Major League Rugby draft, the snake pit here at Rugby ATL has just grown a little larger, with the arrival of our first two picks, Michael Matarazzo and John Scotti. Each player drove down last weekend, in order to be checked out by the athletic training staff and begin participating in organized team activities. Last Monday, our two newest young men found themselves making a series of introductions; to the coaches and staff, to the facility through a tour, and to their baselines with the club, through physical screenings to assess their mobility and mechanics. After their official check-in, the men completed their first workout in the gym, setting a standard for the work that they hope to put in for this franchise.
Last Tuesday, both picks found themselves at Life University, the home ground of Rugby ATL, to bear witness to the pace of a high-intensity training session that involved both skills drills and competitive games. John Scotti’s working through a hamstring injury and could not participate, though Michael Matarazzo did. After a check-in with the Athletic Training Staff to verify that every participant had an acceptable temperature, Matarazzo and the rest of Rugby ATL’s Wider Training Group were put through a ninety-minute session that involved intervals of training the skills of their pass and catch, along with impassioned touch rugby matches, to foster the competitive spirit of the group.
The remainder of the week mirrored how the picks first week in their new home had begun, with days split between sessions of lifting weights in the gym or practicing skills on the field, coupled with all of the recovery and rehabilitation necessary to establish a good baseline of work for the upcoming season.
For more news and information on our franchise, feel free to follow us on our socials: like our Rugby ATL page on Facebook, follow our @RugbyATL and @404Pathway on Instagram, and check out our website, RugbyATL.rugby.
Rugby ATL Partners with Cumberland Diamond Exchange
Press Release: For Immediate Release
July 16th, 2020
We are proud to announce that Cumberland Diamond Exchange (CDE), will be the Official Jeweler of Rugby ATL through 2022.
Cumberland Diamond Exchange is a full-service, fine jewelry retailer specializing in engagement rings, wedding bands, custom design, and more. Ranked in the top 5% of independent, specialty jewelers in the United States, CDE is a first-generation, family-owned fine jewelry store. The philosophy of “Service with Excellence” has remained the foundation of the business and has helped to develop and sustain long-term relationships with its customers for over 35 years.
“We are excited and honored to partner with Rugby ATL (RATL). As the Official Jeweler, we feel that RATL’s core values coupled with its management and coaching staff will become the Gold Standard of Major League Rugby. After our exposure to the game day experience, we were hooked on partnering with such an exciting action-packed sport. We look forward to aligning our organizations to make a difference by helping others prosper in our community” said Owner Mark Jacobson.
One of those long-lasting relationships CDE has sustained is with Rugby ATL owners, Marcus, and Clea Calloway. Their commitment to excellence and service to the community aligns perfectly with the PACE values Rugby ATL was built upon.
“Cumberland Diamond Exchange always goes above and beyond to serve their customers with excellence and are always creating opportunities for advancement in the community. We are beyond grateful to have them behind Rugby ATL as we prepare for the 2021 season. Mark, his wife Rhonda, daughter Melissa and their wonderful team have raised the standard on providing resources and opportunities for us (RATL) to win on and off the field,” said Rugby ATL Owner Marcus Calloway.
Highlighted in the agreement is CDE’s commitment to helping spread the PACE values to the youth in underserved communities in the Greater Atlanta Area, through Rugby ATL’s non-profit, Pathway 404. Together, through the sport of rugby, we look to create positive change and growth for everyone involved.
Explore the Cumberland Diamond Collection
Atlanta, Georgia – For this week’s episode of our informational live series, ‘The RATL Roundup,’ Rugby ATL had on three of our newest residents on-camera to chat about their experiences so far, members of our Summer Residency Camp, Rocco Arnold of St. Bonaventure University, Dominic Odden of St. John’s University, and Damoreon Travis of Life University. After a rigorous and meaningful first week of camp, the three young men gathered around our granite island in the player lounge to talk about their initial experiences.
Dom Odden grew up in a small suburb outside of Minneapolis, and started playing the game of rugby as a high school junior. As a defensive lineman in American football, Dom enjoyed using his physicality in sport, and was turned onto rugby union through his positional coach. Upon graduating high school, Dom was eager to join the team at his college, and as a member of the back row, he’s continued to work on the physicality, body profile, and explosiveness that he first learned through football.
Damoreon Travis was a folk style wrestler and running back from Louisville, Kentucky. Well versed in the concepts of grappling and tackling other players, as well as ball carrying and evading defenders, Damoreon is not unfamiliar with the core skills to rugby union. First arriving at Life University to join the wrestling team, Damoreon quickly solidified his presence on the men’s undergrad rugby team, while learning from working in the same environment as Life alumni and our current professional’s, Duncan Van Schalkwyk, Harley Wheeler, & Julian Montes.
Rocco Arnold moved around a lot as a kid. Born on an Air Force base in Florida, he later moved: to England, back to Florida, to Colorado, to Germany, to South Carolina, and finally to Buffalo, New York, where his dad is originally from. That was during his junior year of high school, and was when Rocco first started playing rugby, for Orchard Park. The chance to play for a club comprised of a few different communities gave Rocco the chance to connect with kids from inside and outside of his new hometown, West Seneca, New York. his experience with this club also gave him the opportunity to meet Coach Tui Osborne of St. Bonaventure, and inevitably led to his decision to attend St. Bonaventure and play rugby for the Bonnies.
As our Summer Residency Camp finishes the first quarter of their itinerary, all three of these young men spoke of how they found themselves supported by the coaches and staff of Rugby ATL, and how grateful they were for their own unique pathways that led them to spend their summer training in the 404. If you would like to learn more about our Summer Residency Camp through our live series, go online to our Rugby ATL page on YouTube, give our video a like, and subscribe to our page to stay updated for more online content.
Seventeen new faces stepped into Headquarters on the morning of Monday, July 6th, as the first members of Rugby ATL’s Summer Residency Camp of our new youth development program, Pathway 404. College players from all around the Eastern Seaboard and the midwest made their way down to Marietta over the weekend, to take part in the franchise’s first-ever development program tailored for collegiate players.
In what began with a Sunday onboarding session, the new group of players from schools like American International College, St. Bonaventure, Saint Joseph’s University, Central Washington University, and Kennesaw State all came in force to headquarters with a desire to #PushthePACE. The boys met with ATL’s Head Coach Scott Lawrence, Vice President of Operations Kevin McCorry, and the two professional players who will serve as Head and Assistant Coaches of the camp, Neethling Gericke and Kurt Coleman.
The first full day of camp consisted of: a tour of the new space, orthopedic screenings and biomechanics assessments, followed by discussions on athlete performance from our director Matt Dallow, baseline tests of speed and aerobic capacity, and a skills session to end the day with a rugby ball in hand. In each activity, player groups were split in order to optimize social distancing, and each athlete was acquainted with the precautions we are currently taking with our players and staff, in both the training environment and at home, to continue to do our part to contain the transmission and spread of the COVID-19 disease.
For the coming weeks, our new team members will get to experience what life as a professional athlete means here at Rugby ATL. They’ll live in our player housing, use our equipment and facilities daily, and rub elbows with (metaphorically speaking) members from all realms of the organization: trainers, coaching staff, contracted players, and current members of the Senior side of the 404 development team. By the time each camper has to go home, he will be returning to his home, university, and club with an invaluable experience; he will bring back with him the core values of our organization, and will continue to #PushthePACE.
A message from Rugby ATL’s General Manager and Head Coach Scott Lawrence on what it means to live at PACE.
Living at PACE
For the last 17 years, I’ve held two jobs as both a software executive for Accenture then Oracle, and what most would consider a “full-time” coaching roles with Life University, the USA Rugby National Teams, and RugbyATL. Now, add in 3 children, 40,000 miles per year on the road, 4-hour sleep nights and it’s the perfect cocktails for a life controlled chaos.
Reflecting on these past years, I’m very grateful for the flywheel effect rugby coaching, corporate leadership, and parenting has all had on each other. Each avenue has had a developmental impact on me and with practice, allowed me to help software developers, executives, players, and coaches move closer to the best version of themselves.
Until the formation of RugbyATL, I hadn’t truly appreciated all of the lessons learned and how they would apply in an entirely new way. In its infancy, with like-minded people, we sat down and built a simple model to run our business. We decided to be unique and establish the first franchise in Major League Rugby to build itself on core values.
The acronym P.A.C.E. is what came out of those conversations and PACE represents our actions and behaviors inside and outside of rugby and the sports business environment. More importantly, PACE is the lens through which we view all of our important decisions.
P is for developing People
A is for embracing Accountability
C is for Create Change
E for focus on Execution
PACE is a mindset of giving the gift of making others around you successful. It’s accepting reality instead of your own biased feelings. It’s owning your actions, looking for ways to not just accept and adapt to change but to be the catalyst for that change. Finally, it’s being a person of your word and who executes what you commit to.
PACE applies in all of the environments I live in; sport, technology, and most importantly at home.
These values really kick into action with developing new, creative initiatives. Now, more than ever is a wonderful time to create change for your business in a way that invests in pain now for results later.
Two specific things were started in week 2 of our shut down. First, at RugbyATL, we decided to kick off Pathway 404 and launch a U19 program with two of our senior players in the lead. In the software realm of my life, we are launching a major enterprise initiative that will turn a 100+ person team in an entirely new direction using never before seen technology at a very aggressive timeline.
I’ve committed to executing these powerful initiatives to both of my teams, Chairmans, CTO’s and CEO’s personally.
Admittedly, I was not doing great succession planning in either place before these two initiatives. The timing of everything presented a perfect opportunity to stretch and develop the people who are the future leaders and coaches to take my job at both places. It’s an exciting thought working to make myself doubly obsolete!
Good coaching is good questioning. By developing people in their new roles and questioning them through the PACE mindset, I can help them #PushthePACE as well.
P: “What resources are you leveraging to increase your competency to do this role well? Tell me about what you’re doing to develop your people”
A: “Where are you strong? Where are you weak and need complementary skills to get the job done?”
C: “You have the high-level intention of what we want to achieve from the leadership team. How have you made it better since we last talked?”, “Anything else?”
E: “Here are the 5 metrics I’m after. Tell me about how you see us measuring success on this”
While I’m looking forward to seeing both of these big initiatives come to fruition in the next year and feel confident in the changes made, what I’m looking forward to the most is seeing the growth of everyone involved.
I hope this spurs some thoughts on how you can set your own PACE as parents, coaches, fans, and supporters.
See you on the road soon.
General Manager and Head Coach