Dyess Air Force Base leaders showed support for ACU through the rugby club Tuesday night at a practice.
Technical Sergeant Keith Goeddertz, the unit deployment manager at Dyess, is the connection between ACU and the base. Goeddertz found the ACU Rugby Club online and contacted the president, Juan Escobedo, to see how he could be involved in the program. After a meeting discussing the plans that Escobedo had for the club, Goeddertz observed the team during a touch practice and offered his expertise. In the spring semester of 2016, Goeddertz volunteered to coach the team, which has become a competitor in the Lone Star Rugby Conference.
The wing commander, Col. David Benson, wanted to get involved with the Abilene community, and looked for ways to do so through the three universities. Their first engagement was with McMurry University in September, in which the base’s staff was recognized at a Military Appreciation football game. Tuesday evening, commanders, deputy commanders, chiefs or superintendents, all some form of Dyess base leadership, participated in a practice that furthered their university connections.
The practice started with usual warm ups and moved into a time of base level drills after about 15 minutes. ACU rugby players offered their knowledge to the Air Force members and taught them the basis of the game. Toward the end of the two-hour practice, the group split into 4 different teams mixed with military personnel and university students, and played 7-on-7 touch games. The base commander of Dyess AFB even scored a try, similar to a touchdown, during a match.
“The youthful energy of the students was infectious and inspiring, said U.S. Air Force Col. Justin Boldenow, 7th Operations Group commander. “Their knowledge of the game was evident throughout the night. It was great to show them that we are always willing to learn something new- both rugby and how to inspire others to be part of a team.”
The rugby players said their experience was humbling, and offered them a new perspective on the game and their right to play it.
“Being supported by them was a blessing,” said Adrian Escobedo, freshman health promotion major from Round Rock. “They fight and give everything so we can play the game of rugby. We strive to do the same on the field. Being supported by them is big time and we support and thank them for everything they do. Rugby in the Abilene community is growing and this was another step to impacting everyone around through Christ and the game of rugby.”
Coach Goeddertz said that he was impressed by both the Air Force members’ desire to learn and his players’ ability to teach despite being fairly new to the sport.
“The ACU players did a great job coaching our visitors,” said Goeddertz. “When most of our players joined the club, they were in the same position as our military leaders. I was very impressed with the rugby knowledge of our players and the patience they gave to our guests. Especially when it was only 2 months ago when they started to play rugby.”
The rugby team will travel to Lubbock to play Texas Tech on Nov. 19, and will be back at home on Jan. 28 playing the University of Dallas.