When someone knows of Rugby, but has never seen or played it before, normally one thing comes to mind.
“That it’s a barbaric sport played by a bunch of drunk loud mouths,” 4 Corners Rugby Academy CEO Joshua Pendergrass said. “That’s just not the way it is anymore.”
Slowly but surely, the sport of rugby is spreading across the Westernslope and that’s why Pendergrass hired Cassidy Veach.
Veach is the new chief executive programs director and has been playing rugby for the last six years. She moved from Virginia to spread the sport in western Colorado.
“I knew this would open up a lot of doors, help me learn as a rugby player,” Veach said. “I want to help give back to the community, and help build the rugby family and rugby community in general.”
“As soon as I met Cassidy, her spirit and her youthfulness, especially her passion for rugby, I thought that was the perfect person to bring to Grand Junction, so we can start unlocking the box on this thing.” Pendergrass said.
So far so good. Since moving here in September Cassidy has increased 4 Corners Rugby Academy’s attendance by 80 percent. What’s normally a male-dominated sport, Cassidy’s effort has brought an attendance that’s mostly female.
“Women, culturally and traditionally, have not been treated fairly I believe,” Pendergrass said. “I want to prove to them that we can treat them fairly and they will have an equal shot that the men will. Making sure that everyone is happy in this sport.”
That’s what 4 Corners Rugby Academy is all about, giving everyone a chance to play the sport they love.
“We do wheelchair rugby, touch rugby, youth rugby, non contact sport, contact sport,” Pendergrass said. “If you’re on the fence and you just want to try it, come out and try it. We’re a family.”
“I’m not an aggressive person,” Veach said while laughing. “It was hard to see myself playing rugby, cause you have to be aggressive. What sold me and kept me coming to practice and games and sticking with it are the friends I’ve made connections I’ve made.”
The connections you can make at the academy are pretty impressive. Pendergrass recently was invited to receive the premier rugby scholarship in England. He got his level 300 coaching certificate and has brought it back to Colorado to instill a higher rugby standard.
“If I can expand my knowledge to other people and educate people on how great this game is, that’s my ultimate goal.” Pendergrass said.
One of the ways he plans on doing that is getting the youth more involved.
“The biggest stalemate I’ve run into is the youth never got started,” Pendergrass said. “It’s very important that we make sure the grass roots are touched first.”
4 Corners Rugby Academy meets three times a week. There are practices at the Mesa County Fairground Tuesdays and Thursdays, and there’s a non-contact pick-up game on Sunday evenings.
The sessions are free for everyone until the beginning of the new year, and even after that will be cheap.
If you would like to join, you can contact them on their social media platforms.