With a $250,000 grant from Republic Services and partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis, Gestalt Community Schools will receive the first ever community rugby field in Memphis for their nationally recognized rugby team at Power Center Academy High School.
Last Thursday, the PCA Knights were brought together for what they thought was the unveiling of new uniforms donated from Republic Services. Little did they know that a much bigger surprise was in store for them.
“During the grant application process, we learned so much about the positive impact the game of rugby has had on Power Center Academy’s scholars and the Eden Square community,” said Brandon Colom, general manager of Republic Services of Memphis. “Republic Services wanted to be part of this movement because we understand the power of neighborhood revitalization. This field will not only be used for recreational purposes, but it will also serve as a constant reminder that communities work best with collaboration.
Having recently completed nine homes in the Eden Square development near the school, Memphis Habitat was eager to connect Republic Services with Gestalt and PCA for this collaborative opportunity.
“Habitat is known for building and improving homes, but we also want to be a strong partner to the organizations that anchor the communities we serve,” said Dwayne Spencer, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis.
After the founding of PCA in 2011, students were persistent in asking for a football team. When space and cost proved to be an obstacle, Teach For America educator and co-founder of Memphis Inner City Rugby, Shane Young, stepped in an introduced the English contact sport as an option. The PCA Knights’ progress steadily grew over the next couple years having made it to the 2014 State Championship and three students being named national all stars.
“One of the most impactful ways our scholar-athletes excel in sports and academics is through the power of rugby,” Young said. “Beyond college scholarships and other higher-education opportunities, rugby offers our scholars a chance to grow as individuals, as well as teammates. This field provided by Republic Services will take their enthusiasm and athleticism to a new level.”
A volunteer cleanup day with Republic Services and Memphis Habitat is scheduled for the summer to prepare the rugby field for construction. There’s no date set for the groundbreaking of the field, but the anticipated completion is set for fall of 2017.