The Northern Michigan University men’s club rugby team will celebrate its 30-year anniversary this fall.
Formed in 1979, the Moosemen are planning to kick off their season with the annual Old Boys Game alumni celebration and jamboree style tournament on Sept. 5, followed by a social at Tourist Park.
Although the alumni game takes place every year, this year holds special significance. Generally, alumni attend from the local area, but this year’s anniversary event was better publicized.
“We have people coming back from 1979, from the original class,” said team vice-president Sam Blohowiak. “There’s a crew coming out from California, about half a dozen coming from Colorado.”
The alumni will divide by graduation date and play the annual games against other alumni and the current Moosemen squad.
The event also includes a tournament against the rugby club teams from Michigan Tech and rival Minnesota-Duluth. The University of Michigan club may also participate.
The event is being sponsored by local businesses, so fans who attend will be treated to food and a T-shirt. Following the alumni games and tournament, the party will move to Tourist Park after one last stop for grilling and kickball.
“Tradition is all the players and visiting guys always jump off Black Rocks before we go to the social,” Blohowiak said.
Counting the players, fans and alumni, Blohowiak expects nearly 400 people to be at Tourist Park.
“Anyone’s invited,” he said, noting that he hopes prospective athletes will attend. “Part of the idea is recruitment and retention.”
Blohowiak believes students interested in joining the Moosemen will like what they find at the anniversary celebration.
“We’re competitive but we’re also social,” he said. “We’re all a group of friends, and that’s the best part of it.”
Sean Baptist joined the Moosemen when he transferred to NMU, opting for rugby over a tryout with the varsity football squad.
“It’s just a lot of guys who are athletic,” he said, noting that the camaraderie on the team creates a very enjoyable atmosphere.
Baptist also hopes that anyone interested in joining will not be afraid to give it a try.
“You don’t have to be the stereotype (to join),” said Baptist. “Anyone that’s willing to show up and put forth an effort will be embraced by the club.”
In addition to providing NMU students an opportunity to be competitive and travel, the team also allows athletes to give back to their community.
“We always do [work with] Habitat for Humanity,” said Blohowiak. “We’re going to do some work for St. Vincent de Paul, that sort of thing.”
Students interested in joining the team or simply enjoying an afternoon of entertainment are invited to watch the festivities Sept. 5.
Those wanting to join can also contact Sam Blohowiak at [email protected]