A local sports organization is providing an academic and athletic pipeline to higher education.
In 2012, Shane Young and Devin O’Brien founded Memphis Inner City Rugby. The organization is unlike any other sports team in Memphis, displaying an opportunity for kids to indulge in a myriad of positive opportunities. The founders have spoken in-depth about why the focus of this team contributed to success in many ways.
The team’s success was compounded by a team culture which simultaneously fostered academic & character growth. Using this model, MICR expanded to bring fully competitive rugby programs to more schools in Memphis. In 2015, MICR’s first girls programs were founded at Soulsville Charter School and Freedom Preparatory Academy. Entering it’s 5th year, MICR now serves approximately 140 student-athletes throughout Memphis- none of whom pay anything to be a part of it. – Shane Young, Founder of MICR
As city school teachers with Teach for America, the two men harbored a desire to start a rugby team, and shortly after holding their “football interest meeting,” desire to play exploded. Now, Young sits as the Deputy Director and O’Brien as the Chief Programming officer, serving an organization that has grown into a brotherhood characterized by 140 student athletes (both girls and boys). These athletes can play on 1 of 5 different teams in the Memphis area, located at 3 schools.
To showcase some of the results the mentors have collected, here are a few statistics:
- 90% Academic Improvement
- 100% College Acceptance
- 99% Gained a Support Structure
- 97% Reported Developing Leadership Skills
- 94% Made a Positive Role Model
MICR Teaches me values like respect, responsibility, and loyalty” – Tyler Vaughn, Full Back
Aside from these numbers, the organization has graduated 4 D1 athletes. This means that 4 individuals were able to approach college with an infrastructure for the future.
One of the stellar athletes is Donovan Norphet. He had never heard the word rugby until he attended a meeting for “football”. Three years after becoming involved, Donovan accepted a scholarship to Life University. Within the year, he was the only freshman starter on Life’s USA National Rugby Champions team.
The organization, having experienced exponential growth and interest over the last 4 years, is now looking for donations to help fund the initiative. The group provides inner city school kids with a completely free experience, meaning they are provided field time, uniforms, or rugby balls. Additionally, the organization coordinates free tutoring time, yoga sessions, and college prep opportunities. The Opportunity Fund information can be found at the following links.
In the few years we’ve been around, we’ve grown tremendously. This summer alone, we have high schoolers competing in competitive camps from California to North Carolina. This is with no resources. Imagine what we could do with adequate support, financially or support through cheering at games on most Saturdays. – Michael Deutsch, Member of the Board of MICR