This year we are excited to announce that our baseball, lacrosse and rugby teams will be traveling to compete all around the world. In the spring, our Lax Cats will travel to Southern California while the Rugby Cats travel internationally to South Africa. And in July, the baseball team will travel to Nettuno, Italy, to learn and compete.
Five years ago, rugby became a varsity sport at Saint Ignatius. In those five seasons, the Rugby Cats have won three state championships and traveled to Ireland, Texas, and France.
In its sixth year of existence, Saint Ignatius rugby team will represent the United States of America in a prominent tournament featuring the best teams in the world, taking place in Cape Town, South Africa.
Following last year's 10-day trip to France, head coach Dan Arbeznik '00 figured on a quiet 2018 season for travel, planning to stay in Ohio with the exception of a national tournament in Kansas City.
That changed just before Thanksgiving. Representatives of Heyneke Meyer, the former coach of the Springboks (South Africa's national rugby union team) reached out to Arbeznik, extending an invitation to play in the first-ever World Schools Festival.
The tournament will bring together the best high school teams from across the world, including top programs from South Africa, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, England, and Argentina, along with the French and Italian national rugby teams. The Wildcats are currently the only American team set to participate in the tournament.
The trip also presents a unique learning experience for the Rugby Cats. The itinerary calls for a flight from the U.S. to Istanbul, with a 9-hour layover in Turkey. The Wildcats will take advantage of the opportunity to visit the Hagia Sofia and other landmarks in the historic city. Then, the Rugby Cats will fly to Cape Town, where the team will play in two matches, with opportunities to explore cultural and historic landmarks during free time.
“This is an amazing opportunity for us,” Arbeznik said. “The trip presents a unique opportunity for our students to acquire a larger perspective on culture, history, and civilization. We want to teach our students to become more independent and more confident in life. Travelling abroad and immersing oneself a foreign culture is the perfect way to accomplish that.”
Global education, including through sports, is a significant part of a Saint Ignatius education. The school's global education initiatives include seven mission trips (to the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, etc.), the Irish Studies program, and other educational travel opportunities.
The Saint Ignatius Athletic Department has provided more frequent chances for travel in recent years.
The Lax Cats will travel to battle three top teams from Southern California in spring 2018. The journey will be the first under new head lacrosse coach Gary Cintron.
The success and ascent of the Saint Ignatius lacrosse program in recent years has culminated in this important trip, by far the lengthiest in the history of the program.
The Lax Cats, on the heels of back-to-back trips to the state championship game, will depart on March 30, 2018. The Wildcats will face Coronado High School, Torrey Pines High School, and Loyola (LA) High School. All three programs are well-respected in Southern California lacrosse. Loyola LA and Torrey Pines near the top of last season’s final Under Armour / Inside Lacrosse high school lacrosse rankings, coming in at the No. 4 and No. 5 teams in the entire West region, respectively.
And for the first time in school history, the baseball team will travel internationally this summer to Nettuno, Italy. They will play in four exhibition games against Nettuno Baseball Academy and over the nine-day trip will travel to Nettuno, Capri, Sorrento, Pompeii and Rome. Baseball grew in popularity after the end of World War II due to the U.S. soldiers in Italy. Today, Nettuno is coined, “the city of baseball.”
“Travel abroad through sports offers our student-athletes a wonderful opportunity to learn different cultures and expand students’ boundaries,” said Athletic Director Rory Fitzpatrick ’88. “Playing premier teams is great, but the goal of this type of trip is to expose our students to new experiences, ideas, and cultures, expanding their worldview along the way.”