Haas Student-Athlete Profile: Sam Welch | Rugby

Name: Sam WelchSam Welch - Cal Rugby 2014

Major: Business Administration

Sport: Rugby

Graduation Date: May 2015

Continuing or Transfer: Continuing

What sport do you play and what position do you have on the team?

Rugby is generally described as a mix between football and soccer. It is a sport played with 15 players on each team. The goal is to try to score as many points on the other team as possible within two continuous 40-minute halves. The teams score by touching the ball down into the try-zone or by kicking it through the uprights. We can only advance the ball forward by running or kicking it. It cannot be passed forward.

I play inside-center, which is a back player. I touch the ball a lot and my position is usually saved for smaller, quicker guys who have more ball skills. My position is both defense and offense.

Why did you choose to play this sport?

I didn’t start playing rugby until my senior year in high school. Dixon High School started a team when I was in 8th grade and I didn’t really have too much interest at the time because I was playing football and other things. However, football ended my senior year and I wanted to give rugby a try. So I tried it!

Here at Cal, I was a spring admit for my Freshman Year. My coach from Dixon High School had played Rugby for Cal back in the 80s. I ended up emailing the Cal Rugby coaches and told them I had an interest in walking onto the team but I haven’t had a lot of experience in rugby. However, I expressed that I am a hard worker and would love to try out for the team. They allowed me to try out and talked with my previous high school coach to see if I had potential and I guess they saw it. It’s really cool.

Do you see yourself making a career out of this sport? Why or why not?

No. This will be my 6th season playing rugby; however, I don’t have enough experience to play rugby at a higher level. I am not really interested in playing competitive sports after I graduate from Haas. From collegiate rugby, a player can go into a league in Europe, U.S. or even a club team here in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can also go into the Olympics for rugby as well, but only for the seven’s version.

So you go to the Haas School of Business. Do you feel that your sport has not only contributed to you getting accepted into Haas, but also allowed you to be successful in your business academic and professional careers?

Playing rugby has really allowed and forced me to manage my time better. I think the best thing I’ve learned while playing rugby here at Cal is to focus on the most important aspects of what you’re doing first, and not worry about the 10th most important thing. I think this has really helped me improve at the game and it has also helped me do well during my time here at Cal and Haas, specifically. Being an athlete also really showcases that I have good work ethic and organization within my life.

What is it like being a student-athlete at Haas (describe a day in the life of a student-athlete)? What resources do you get for being a student-athlete? Is it easier or harder to dedicate time to your academic career when you have a demanding lifestyle from your sport?

I’ll talk about my Spring schedule. So, I wake up about 7:30 AM and get some breakfast prior to practice in the morning. I get to the locker rooms at 8:00 AM, get dressed, and arrive on the field by 8:30 AM for practice. We practice for about an hour and a half. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we will go down to the weight room to do weight training as well for an hour at the High Performance Center (HPC).

I go to class right after practice from about 11:00 AM until 3:00 PM and then I have the rest of the day to myself to study, do homework or relax. We have games on Saturdays and so we will meet on Sundays to go over film study to see how we did on Saturday’s game day. As far as being a student-athlete, we do get additional resources to help us here at Cal. We get free tutoring if we need help in our classes, priority registration for Tele-Bears so we can coordinate our classes with our practice schedule, and we get to use all of the training facilities at the HPC too. I am very fortunate to have access to all of these amenities as a student-athlete.

I don’t think it’s too hard to dedicate time to my sport while studying at Haas. For football, I could imagine it being very hard. Same thing goes for being a swimmer at Cal. However, for rugby, I don’t think it’s too hard because the most we ever practice is for 2.5-3 hours max every day and I’m done with school by 3:00 PM. So, I have the rest of the day to develop my professional career, dedicate time to my classes or whatever I need. Although, I would say it definitely is a toll on my body, considering I have a black eye right now. However, because we don’t use pads in rugby, we definitely aren’t getting hit as hard as we would if we were actually using pads. In football, you can use your pads as a weapon and hit way harder and it won’t really hurt you. In rugby, you certainly aren’t hitting as hard. But it definitely is a tiring sport and I struggle to make it through entire games, at times.

Do you foresee yourself going into a career that is tied to the sports industry?

I’m not exactly sure what I would like to do; however, I don’t see myself going into a profession that is tied to the sports industry. I think what I might end up doing upon graduation from Haas is to work for this company called Bigge Crane. I’ve worked there the past two summers and they basically buy, sell and rent heavy equipment and cranes. That is what I will start out doing and then explore from there how I would like to develop my professional career.

Having gone to school as a student-athlete, is there anything that you wish to change in your experience here at Cal and Haas? If not, what is the most important thing you have gotten from being a student-athlete at Haas?

It would be nice to know what it feels like to not be training all the time and to just be a student here at Cal. But, I would only like to experience that for maybe half a semester. Otherwise, I would not change anything.

As far as being a student-athlete, what resonated with me the most was being recognized as a scholar-athlete here at Cal. There are certain football or basketball games here at Cal in which they bring in all the students who qualify as a scholar-athlete and they bring us out onto the court or field and announce our team as we walk out. There was one time where they brought out Cal Rugby onto the football field, it was a Thursday night game, and they did academic recognition for us. And when they announced Cal Rugby, there was a huge applause, just because of the history of the team and our successes. It was really cool hearing and feeling that energy from our Cal Rugby supporters.

Sam Welch - Cal Rugby 2014

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