In February of 2020, Coach Ryszard Chadwick looked forward to starting a new job with the school’s relatively new rugby team, he said. However, within one month, the school had switched to remote learning. Nonetheless, according to Director of Athletics, Health and Physical Education Robert Annunziata, the new coach began to make an immediate impact on the school’s rugby program.
“Since his arrival, Coach Chadwick has created an environment that connects with the student-athlete on a level that supports their growth in learning and enjoying the sport of rugby,” Annunziata said.
Chadwick has been an active rugby player since the age of six. “The thing I love most about rugby is how it’s an all-inclusive, equal opportunity sport,” he said. “For me, it’s also the most effective sport to teach life skills and values.”
When describing his coaching style, Chadwick provided the following phrase: “developing excellence, inspiring success.” He believes the best rugby teams show comradery, confidence, and effort, and he hopes these ideals translate into values that his players will carry with them into their day-to-day lives. “The most important part of coaching to me is building a relationship of trust and feeling safe and comfortable with the players,” Chadwick said.
Chadwick has been coaching for many years. He began his coaching career at the age of 14 and has worked across the world, coaching rugby players as well as supervising and assisting other coaches.
“Coach Chadwick is the quintessential factor of the team’s cheerful and energetic dynamic,” Jhanae Ottey (11) said. “I am looking forward to learning how this sport works with him.”
Before coming to the school, Chadwick ran a NIKE rugby camp in Oregon. He learned about the school from rugby team captain, Catherine Mignone (11), who attended the training camp, said.
Clementine Bondor (10) was impressed by the depth of Chadwick’s knowledge when he began coaching the team. “He has a great eye for identifying specific problems or hesitations and helping us overcome them.”
“He has a lot of love for the game, which carries over to us as players and gives motivation and a positive attitude going into every practice,” Josephine Mignone (9) said.
Along with holding many other rugby-related positions, Chadwick is the Junior National Team and Female Pathway Coach for the official U.S. governing body for rugby, USA Rugby, where one of his roles is helping develop female athletes who hope to have future careers in rugby. Thus, Chadwick was especially excited to work with an all girls rugby team. “This game is as much for women as it is for men,” he said. “It gives women a platform to be strong and [teaches them] how to lead without judgment from outside influences. I have coached a number of women’s teams and it’s amazing what they are achieving.”
Despite the challenges that COVID-19 poses for this year’s season, Chadwick still has several clear objectives in mind. He hopes to encourage more students to try rugby, as the sport not only has physical benefits, but is also an extremely enjoyable extracurricular once athletes master the rules of the game. Chadwick also wants the team to focus more on conditioning as well as the details of the sport. He compared rugby to a form of art and believes it requires the same level of fastidiousness as any creation of art.
“I have high hopes for the portion of the season we will be spending online,” Bondor said. “It’s difficult to imagine playing rugby in a virtual sphere, but, somehow, Coach Chadwick found a way [last year]. I have an intricate understanding of the game — I could talk to you for an hour about the principles of play, both from offensive and defensive perspectives, because of how he taught us.”
Despite knowing Chadwick for only a short amount of time, the players have felt the positive effects of their new coach‘s teaching and have seen vast improvements in their game.
“At the end of practice last week, we talked about setting high expectations for ourselves and then breaking through the ceiling,” Bondor said. “Even in only two weeks, the ceiling has been broken.”