he sport of rugby, often referred to as the "father" of American football, has joined the better known club sports here with the launch of the Pleasanton Cavaliers, a USA Rugby-sanctioned organization that now has field space in Sports Park and other city and school athletic fields.
The sport was started at least 70 years before American football and is by far more popular than baseball and basketball outside the U.S. Coached by Paul Bretz, a teacher at Amador Valley High School, the Pleasanton Cavaliers Rugby Club has been climbing the ranks not only through major wins against formidable opposing teams, but also through local sponsorships. This week, thanks to the promotional work of the DECA business club at Amador, 7-Eleven, Inc. the world's largest convenience-store chain, agreed to sponsor the team for the 2010 season.
A major leap for the nonprofit club, the Cavaliers hope the sponsorship will help spread their message of "responsibility, compassion, self-discipline, honesty, respect, and integrity through the sport of rugby, regardless of ability" -- the club's motto. The Cavaliers have been working together with Amador Valley High School's award-winning DECA club to acquire sponsorships while at the same time providing DECA students the opportunity to practice their skills.
Although the Cavaliers are a rugby club that strives to excel in rugby, Bretz also insists that team managers seek opportunities to develop youth in all facets. That's why the Cavaliers are leading the way among organized youth sports clubs in Pleasanton to establish connections with local businesses and the Pleasanton community to "create a philanthropic ideal that demonstrates that kids and adults can work together to make the lives of the community more meaningful," Bretz told me.
7-Eleven's support of the team was obtained by the work of Amador seniors Rachel McCaslin and Alana D'Onofrio. As members of the DECA club, the two searched for companies willing to back the Cavaliers and eventually met with a representative of corporate 7-Eleven. The duo also managed to attain patronage from Access Information Management, ARIA Technologies Incorporated, Enlightening Learners Tutoring and Academic Coaching Services, MM Crossfit, Melissa Pedersen Realty and Hotels Combined.
Laurie Andrews, the Amador DECA advisor, believes the 7-Eleven sponsorship was a welcome opportunity for the DECA club, the Cavaliers and for 7-Eleven. For her students, the assignment to look for potential sponsors gave them a street-wise project based on lessons in the classroom. Youth sports sponsorship was a new area for 7-Eleven, which makes the success of the Amador DECA club even more impressive in its continued outreach to the community.
Andrews believes that the partnership with the Cavaliers will also greatly benefit 7-Eleven locally. At the rugby games, players and fans will see the logo and might pay more attention to 7-Eleven products.
Due to the efforts of the DECA club, a total of $4,200 has been raised for the Cavaliers team with 7-Eleven adding another $1,000 in a check presentation last week in front of the store at 4200 Hopyard Road. Managers at the store and from the 7-Eleven regional office at 4301 Hacienda Drive joined 50 Cavalier players who were in full uniform for the event.
In only its second year, the Cavaliers team has grown from 25 high school students to over 100 members ages 9 to 60. Yes, that's right! The Cavaliers' adult team has seasoned players in their 50s and 60s who played the sport in mostly East Coast states and Canada. The high school team is undefeated in league play and has only lost one of nine matches overall.
For more information about the Cavaliers, sign on to www.pleasantonrugbyclub.com.