Story by Christopher Di Virgilio
Photos by Loren Worhtington
Quad rugby is known for its quick pace, hard hits and rowdy atmosphere and this year’s Rugby Rave had all those elements. What was new this year was the Oscar Mike (OM) Militia, an all-military team.
“We’re constantly trying to find new team members,” says program director Nicole Verneuille. “We don’t always get to play together as a team, so OM hosts clinics for both beginner and elite quad rugby athletes which helps the players practice, learn the game and prepare for up to eight tournaments per year.”
Rugby Rave is the highest-level tournament that the Oscar Mike Militia has played — their typical games are at the D-2 level. But that didn’t keep them from putting together a roster of players, some of whom have played together in past games, and heading out to sunny Arizona.
From the start of the series, the Militia came on strong against the 360Heat. And while they fell to the Heat for that opening game (56-31), they continued to improve with each game throughout the weekend series, even beating a couple of the more seasoned teams.
They gave their all during their final game of the weekend and made the London Annihilators work for their 52-47 win, which bumped them out of the running for championship play.
Despite not being an official United States Quad Rugby Association (USQRA) team, the Oscar Mike Militia continues to work to change that status. USQRA rules state that team members cannot live outside a 150-mile radius from their home court.
Because many of the members of Oscar Mike are from all points across the country, they are not eligible for team status.
“Our population is so diverse,” says program manager Rick Kolberg. “We’re not special. We’re not owed anything. We’re just a unique talent and bring something to the sport that not every team does. We represent something bigger than ourselves every time we roll onto the court.”
Christopher Di Virgilio
Christopher is the web content manager for SPORTS `N SPOKES magazine. The Chicago native has called Phoenix home for more than 20-years. He proudly served in the United States Marine Corps as a field radio operator and attended Phoenix College’s Journalism Program.