Garrett Hofer of East Lyme, a lifelong athlete, former collegiate rugby player, and active community volunteer, has married two of his great passions by co-founding a new sports league. Garrett Hofer and co-founder Michael Meyer established the Shoreline Spartans Rugby Team in 2017. Their goal is to provide kids and teens on the Connecticut shoreline with an opportunity to learn and play rugby in a safe, supportive, inclusive, and fun environment.
“We set up a youth program that allows young girls and boys to play rugby no matter their ability,” Garrett Hofer Connecticut said. “We have some children with autism, Asperger’s, cognitive disabilities, and physical disabilities that all get considerable playing time.”
The league also keeps costs to a minimum, making the sport accessible to low-income families. Garrett Hofer CT and Meyer both know firsthand the value athletics can have on kids and teens in school and life. Cost should not be an obstacle to reaping those benefits, the co-founders say. The Spartans host fundraisers to help offset costs for participants.
When the team had its first practice in spring 2017, there were just seven participants. Today, there are about 40, including about 20 high schoolers. Garrett Hofer and Meyers’ kids play in the league and the two men are volunteer coaches.
The Spartans hold weekly practices and in 2019 hosted their first rugby tourney. The event, which included three high school teams and four youth programs from other areas, was an outstanding success. The Spartans and their fellow teams had such a great time, Garrett Hofer said, they’re planning another tourney in 2020.
In addition to hosting more tourneys, Garrett Hofer and Meyer are hoping to expand the league’s offerings to include summer camps, an adult league, and a women’s league.
Before starting the Spartans, Garrett Hofer East Lyme played two years of Club Rugby at the University of Wyoming. Meyer, too, has a long history with rugby. Meyer was a captain at Southern Connecticut State University and played in several adult leagues, including the Connecticut Gray. Mr. Meyer was the head coach at Mitchell College rugby for eight years.
“We are very proud of the community that has formed around these young athletes. We have parents who knew nothing about rugby and now love it. We have players that were not excelling in other sports but now get to play a sport they are good at and love,” Garrett Hofer said. “We teach important fundamentals at every practice, such as sportsmanship, anti-bullying, self-worth, teamwork, and the knowledge that a person can accomplish great things if they give 100 percent. We believe because of these teachings we created a great organization.”
Connect with Shoreline Spartans Rugby via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ShorelineSpartansRugby/