By: Todd Evans – Copy Editor
The William Paterson University rugby team was blown out two years ago by NJIT. They would go on to lose their next two matches and eventually would lose their coaches as well. But that was the past and since that lackluster season, the Pioneers have rebounded with the additions of new players to support the veterans and a new coach.
“We knew we had something special, we knew our team could do something big this year and that is exactly what we did,” said WPU Rugby Team President Andrew Massefski.
This past fall during the 15-man squad season the team was the runner up in the Tri-State Rugby Conference and was one win away from the Division II national tournament.
Massefski was a freshman during the 2015 fall season but decided to step up the following semester by becoming team president.
“I saw the potential of the team and I wanted to take it further than where it has ever been before,” he said.
The team president’s responsibilities include scheduling practices, matches, abiding by university health and wellness guidelines for athletes, payment and USA rugby insurance.
The rugby team is considered a “club sport” by the university, meaning their funding and administration comes from the campus activities office instead of the athletics department.
“We really have to put everything together because we don’t have the athletic director to do that. That roles falls on me as a student athlete,” Massefski said.
The Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey resident did not start playing rugby until he enrolled at WPU, coming from an amateur wrestling and football athletic background. His senior high school year Massefski wrestled to a 5th place finish in the 195 pound weight class.
Though he could have pursued wrestling or football at WPU he chose rugby because he felt he could not commit the full time required to be a NCAA division three athlete while enrolled in the honors college.
Soon after beginning to learn rugby he fell for the sport but also values his relationship with his teammates.
“It’s the sense of brotherhood, memories, friendships that are made. Success is great but even when we weren’t winning we’re still having a great time. It gives you a sense of comradery,” Massefski explained.
The sophomore’s rugby position is the hooker. His main job is to win possession of the ball during a scrum using his feet and pass it back to the player called a scrum-half.
Besides attributing the team’s recent success to his teammates, he also complimented their coach, Morné Pretorius.
“He does it for the love of the game. He’s here at 6 in the morning for us and he lives about 53 miles away from the school,” Massefski said. “He is up at 4 o’clock to make it for our 6 a.m. practices. He is putting in extra time. We can’t thank him enough for what he has done for the team.”
Outside of rugby the 20 year old is a double major in accounting and finance while being a resident assistant, Student Government Association senator, member of the student advisory committees for the Business College and Higher Education Student Assistance Authority among other extracurricular activities.
Coach Pretorius described Massefski as a hard worker, “He is certainly well respected on the field” and “has probably brought between eight and ten players to the program.”
Massefski still has a few years left in college but sees himself as a certified public accountant upon graduation.
Buthis dream is to enter into politics. “I know its cliché, everybody says they want to leave a mark on the world but I just want to make the world better than what it was when I wasn’t there,” he stated.