It was not too long ago that Castleton rugby was considered a joke of a club sport. The team wasn’t dedicated and only wanted to party.Oh my, have the times changed.
“Coaches and teammates have really stepped up. It’s a brotherhood now,” said Alan Page, a senior on the squad.
Page not only plays here at Castleton, but also in Rutland and on the New England All-Star team.
Page was only a sophomore playing club soccer when a few of the players encouraged him to play rugby. He had never touched a rugby ball before.
“My first pass was a football pass downfield. I got yelled at and never did that again,” Page said laughingly.
Hard work and determination helped Page become the player he is today. Page is all over the field making the small plays that help the team win. This past weekend, all of Page’s leadership skills and quiet demeanor were on display at Scorpion Bowl, Castleton’s annual rugby tournament.
“Alan has really excelled in the past year, and that is a testament to his hard work. He comes in and works his ass off to make himself better,” said Coach Josh Smith of the New England team.
This hard work can be seen not only there, but at Castleton as well.
“Alan has really helped our program here at Castleton. The drills he introduces to us have really helped us become a stronger team as a whole,” said Mike Baldino, a senior teammate of Page.
Page enjoys sharing his knowledge to everyone he plays with and it really shows on the field.
“He is a huge help for our program. He not only helps everyone else get better, but he asks questions for his own benefit to make himself better,” said the coach of CSC rugby, Pat Ainsworth.
Alex Airoldi, who started playing at the same time as Page, remembers the program struggling at first but growing over the years as a team and not only competing, but move up to a better division to play.
“We were brutal at first, but recently have put together some great years. It helps when you have people that have played for a few years to lead the team. We have a few players that do that now,” Airoldi said.
This was seen most recently this past Saturday when Castleton men’s rugby beat Middlebury College during Scorpion Bowl.
“It was only their B team, but to have a win against a college that is nationally ranked feels pretty good. A team, B team, or C team, it doesn’t matter, a win is a win,” Airoldi said.
Page has not only helped himself become a better player, he has helped a lot of the younger guys who have never played get better. Page owes a lot of credit to Al Jean, who he says, “helped me tremendously,” to get into game shape and better himself.
“It’s any kids dream to go pro in any sport, but I’m not worried about that now cause there is always room for improvement,” a modest Page said.
Coach Smith enjoys watching Page play because of his “lead-by-example” type play.
“He won’t show up on the box score much, but he definitely sticks out on the field,” said Smith. “I always ask him to tell the other guys from the big Division I schools where he came from because he is always working hard. It comes from his small-school background at Castleton, always having to work to get where he is.”
This summer Page is heading out to the West coast to try-out for the under-23 U.S. National team. Page has an opportunity to fulfill every kids dream as well as his own, playing professionally.