Joe Donley, playing the rough-and-tumble sport of rugby has taught him
more than just how to compete.
It's known for being a rough sport. It is also known for being
a "gentlemanly" sport with players who are often doctors,
lawyers, and executives. To Joe Donley, rugby - a club sport at Truman
- is more than just competition. Despite carrying a full load of coursework
and participating in the National Guard, Donley manages to find time
to play the position of hooker on Truman's rugby team. This business
administration major from St. Louis, Mo., often finds himself out on
the rugby field when the trials of college life start to wear on him.
"For me, I never want to leave the field, whether playing a game
or just running jingle jangles," says Donley, who describes his
team position as a "battering ram."
Dating back to
the 19th century, the game of rugby has been described as "soccer
meets all-star wrestling." It requires mental toughness combined
with the ability to take physical hits, yet the players never seem to
lose the spirit of the game. For Truman's rugby team, Homecoming
highlights one of the best games of the season. Between 20 and 30 former
Truman rugby players converge on campus Homecoming weekend to challenge
the current team. "It is probably the most fun and most contentious
game of the year," says rugby coach Bill Sexton.
The ferocity of
the alumni game is matched by the camaraderie, friendship and sportsmanship
found among the players - both past and present. The ongoing dedication
of the players is demonstrated through the support the team receives
from alumni. Donley has been the recipient of two rugby playing awards
underwritten by alumni, which paid his club dues for the following season.
Alumni contributions also help with travel expenses and will fund two
$500 scholarships that the team will be giving to two incoming freshmen
this fall. "The support of the alumni makes playing on the rugby
team a lot easier because, with that assistance, we do not have to worry
so much about the financial burden," says Donley.
Serving as the
team's current treasurer, one of Donley's responsibilities
is collecting club dues. His ability to combine popularity with a ruthless
efficiency for the job impressed the team's coach. "Joe was
able to hound people in such a way that they were not offended,"
says Sexton. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that one of Donley's
favorite classes at Truman has been organizational behavior. "I
like knowing how to motivate people that you are in charge of,"
says Donley. "You learn a lot about how to be a leader and a manager."
Donley will have
a chance to exercise even more of his exceptional motivational skills
during the upcoming year when he serves as team captain. "Election
to captain by your teammates is the highest honor," says Sexton.
"It has evolved from being a popularity contest to a matter of
who do we want to lead us, who has the right motivation and who has
the right on-field persona." With Donley at the helm, the rugby
team will continue its sporting tradition - enduring a few scrapes and
bruises along the way.