Saturday, January 4, 2014

Coach's Corner: Meet Eyal

Over the course of the Stars founding chats, John Tinsley introduced me to Eyal Hakim out of Florida where he coaches Florida Atlantic University Women and plays for the Boca Raton Men's club. As it turns out Eyal and I share much of the same rugby network so it's fairly inevitable that we'd meet at some point; almost every interaction has involved a "do you know Joe Rugby in California? Or Jane in New York" to mutual discovery of "yes"; the "nos" become quick new contacts and friends in typical rugby fashion.

It was a match made in rugby heaven as we share much of the same philosophies when it comes to principles of play, game strategy (although Eyal has a crazy focus on re-starts - I hear about it daily), team building, and tradition. It's evident that he cares greatly about his own players and about the growth of women's rugby in Florida; the efforts he puts in as a volunteer coach, administrator, fundraiser are mind-bogglingly impressive. Bottom line: Eyal is one of the rugby good guys.

Additionally, having an experienced 7s specialist as a coach is a blessing for the team - plus it allows me to focus on playing, a hand in organizing logistics, and gives another set of eyes when it comes to selections. Plus I was even able to get him some playing time between our games in Vegas with the Sexy Manatees touring side from Calgary (friends from my travels the last 2 years to play at Stampede 7s and the brother team to another of my touring sides, the Sexy Mermaids). Eyal shares my same enthusiasm for growing this team into something sustainable and we've played off each other's energy and visions such that a business plan is in the works to incorporate the Stars into something large and long-lasting.

Here's Eyal's story:

After a career playing football in Texas, I began my rugby career as a lowly wing/fullback trying to learn the game with a bunch of amazing players. I have had the benefit over the course of 20 years in the game to play with some of the best in the country - from playing with Texas A&M University to club level with New York Athletic Club and Boca Raton Rugby.  I've also had the chance to play with the South Men's All-Stars and West Developmental sides.

Being around these players helped motivate me to play better and accomplish more on a larger stage. The pursuit of high level rugby led to athletic travels around the world with Boroughmuir Rugby in Edinburgh, Scotland and being capped for Israel's National Team. After returning to the States, I am trying to give back to the rugby community that I so very love.

I began coaching the FAU Women’s Team roughly 2 years ago and have seen growing success from these young women, but with that success also comes a want for more. The team  has quickly grown and we have our sights set on the D2 National Championship tournament this spring. 

In initial conversations with Liz I brought forth the idea of having players that are from lower caliber rugby areas playing with high level players to see what happens. This has turned into what Liz and I are hoping will be a full program to start allowing women’s players from areas without a lot of high level rugby to have the chance to see how they fit into the spectrum of the rugby world. Vegas means a huge deal to me because I will be able to see how the girls I have coached step up to the challenge of a high level of rugby.

No comments:

Post a Comment