Featured Friar Sebastian D’Ambrosio ’21: Tackling COVID through Team Effort
by Eileen Cooney ’23
This week, the Featured Friar spotlight shines upon Sebastian D’Ambrosio 21.
D’Ambrosio, a Redondo Beach, CA native and a senior quantitative economics major with minors in mathematics and theology, is president of the Providence College Men’s Club Rugby Team. The team competes in the Rugby Northeast Conference and is formally recognized by both the New England Rugby Football Union and USA Rugby. It has a reputation as being one of the premier collegiate club rugby programs in the greater New England area.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team has not been able to practice formally together, nor have they been able to compete in any collegiate games. As is clearly evident, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced almost every club or organization to change its usual methods in order to adapt to the necessary social distancing protocols. Finding ways to adjust becomes especially difficult within the context of sports, and particularly rugby, which is a high contact sport.
Despite these challenges, D’Ambrosio has maintained a commitment to keeping the club rugby team up and running. He says, “As a team, we have been working tirelessly with Chris Schmidt, the head of club sports, to ensure that we develop a plan to reinstate practices in a way that is both safe and sustainable.”
The key words here are “safe and sustainable,” as the College does not want to bring back club sports prematurely only to have to shut them down again if there is a spike in COVID-19 cases. Thus, the return of club sports will involve a careful balance of precision and accuracy in order to ensure that it can be done effectively.
In order to do this, D’Ambrosio says they have been trying to work out a plan with the College that could allow for non-contact skills training and conditioning in the hopes of doing an inner club rugby competition. While he acknowledges that this will not be the same as competing against other schools, he says that it could still help the team improve their game by challenging one another.
While one might think that this lull period would lead to laziness and complacency amongst team members, D’Ambrosio says that this challenge has only further motivated his team. He says, “Until a plan is put in place, many of our players are taking it upon themselves to continue prepping for the spring,” when he anticipates club sports may be able to return under more normal circumstances.
Additionally, he said the team has been communicating via group chats to keep the team spirit up, and “there is a lot of momentum and motivation towards off-seasoning training.” This intense commitment, even in the face of adversity, is a testament to the spirit of D’Ambrosio and the PC club rugby team.
D’Ambrosio says that the hardest part about these circumstances is not being able to practice out on the field with the rest of the team, as his ultimate goal is to keep the legacy of the PC rugby team alive. When asked about the future of PC club sports, D’Ambrosio advised other club team presidents to do whatever possible to keep the team morale high and look ahead. “Don’t get caught up in what you can’t do; look at what you can do to push your team forward.”
Another challenge with club sports amidst the pandemic is not being able to recruit new players as effectively. Though the team is currently not practicing together, D’Ambrosio says that PC club rugby has no cuts or tryouts, and he encourages any prospective students to reach out to him about what they can do to prepare if they want to join the team when play resumes.
While it is hard to say that a team can grow stronger when they cannot practice together, D’Ambrosio says that this experience will “in the long run create a greater understanding of the importance of practice and off-season training.” When he and his teammates do return to the field, D’Ambrosio expects that the PC club rugby team will continue to shine and carry on its legacy.