The Georgetown University Rugby Football Club raised $6,000 for Dog Tag Bakery, a nonprofit organization aimed at enabling disabled veterans through entrepreneurship, with an intrasquad round-robin tournament on Friday.
The idea for the fundraiser started a few years ago, when former GURFC President Robert Rosa (COL ’14), as a sophomore, took a class taught by bakery founder Fr. Richard Curry, S.J. Curry approached Rosa and the men’s rugby team this past May and asked to plan an event.
Curry came up with the idea of the Georgetown bakery, located just off of Wisconsin Avenue on Grace Street, in 2011 as an effort to help veterans and their families get back on their feet by working at the bakery. According to Dog Tag Bakery Chief Operating Officer Meghan Ogilvie, 35 years of working closely with veterans has prepared Curry for this venture.
“It’s a work-study program for veterans with disabilities and their spouses. The idea is that they go through a tailor-made program in the School of Continuing Studies in entrepreneurship and small business and communication, and then they work in our bakery so they get the experience of what it is to run a business or start it,” Ogilvie said.
The first employee was hired in 2012, and the bakery, although still under construction, looks to launch this summer and start its program by employing 10 to 12 veterans.
Rosa said the fundraiser, which was finalized in November, spoke to the Jesuit values of the university.
“I wanted to do this because Father Curry has helped so many people and doesn’t ask for anything in return, so we really wanted to give back to him. It was for the veterans, but it was also for him because he’s such an incredible person who has helped so many,” Rosa said.
The team absorbed associated costs to ensure that all ticket sales went to the bakery.
“Any of the costs that we had to pay for referees and things we just kind of took on ourselves, so all the ticket sales and donations went directly to the bakery and the vets,” Rosa said.
In order to create the teams, the rugby captain and President Alex Skarzynski (SFS ’15), rugby captain Conor Shea (MSB ’15), former President Rosa and captain Jack Sheridan (COL ’14) drafted from the roster.
“We went up and down through our players and just drafted the teams, it was pretty subjective. We wanted it to be random,” Shea said.
The four teams played a round-robin format, with no clear winner, but Skarzyinski’s team held the best record of 3-0-1.
Shea noted that the fundraiser was a great way for the entire team to get more experience in the game of sevens, as most rugby games require 15 players.
“We are definitely going to do it again next year because it raised a lot of money, and it was a really good time,” Shea said. “It was really good experience for a lot of the new guys who hadn’t had a game yet this season. Sevens is more ball-handling and passing-related compared to 15s, so they learned a lot more of the fundamentals and got more experience.”
In addition to the games, the Georgetown University Grilling Society contributed burgers to the cause. Rosa hopes that the event, which attracted over 100 people, will be even larger and more successful in the coming years.
“My idea in setting it up this year was to lay the ground work. Next year, my hope is that other teams will come and play, like GW and American,” Rosa said.
Although Rosa is graduating, the underclassmen on the team hope to carry out the tradition and cultivate the success of such fundraising tournaments.
“As a freshman, it was a really fun event. I’m excited that it’s going to become an annual thing because it will only become more successful, so I’m excited to be here to make it grow,” Michael Hosbein (NHS ’17) said.
“All of the guys were really on board just because of what the cause was. It was just a very small thing we can do for these men and women who are willing to sacrifice everything, a small showing of our gratitude for these heroes who have given everything for our country,” Rosa said.