Babson Doesn’t Travel Lightly - Collegiate Rugby Championship

Babson Doesn’t Travel Lightly

Philadelphia, Penn. — June 4, 2016 — So far this weekend Babson College Men’s Rugby Club has only come away with one win, but they’re used to challenging times given Head Coach Carrick Pell’s favorite training ritual. Starting in the fall of 2013, the team makes an annual three hour hike in New Hampshire where everyone carries a 35-50 lb rock the entire time; the intense bonding session was inspired by training Pell did during his time in the United States Air Force and Marines Corps.

“We were ‘chastised’ the first year by a small group of adults screaming for the leader because it was ‘hazing.’ When myself and assistant coach came upon them, they were stunned to see that we had our rocks on my shoulder and were carrying a rock of a player that was struggling. I explained that it was a TEAM BUILDING event and that everyone does the same thing…No hazing,” wrote Pell in an email.

The “Rock Hike,” as it’s known by the team, consists of 4.5 miles with a 1,650-foot elevation change called the Welch Dickey Loop near the White Mountains. These rocks are not carried in any sort of bag, but on everyone’s shoulders. They are not allowed to be dropped or put down for traversing challenging obstacles. The only time they are allowed to put their rocks on the ground is for specific exercises and minimal rest as dictated by Pell.

The first time it was fun but we hadn’t really built the tradition. [The second time] I had been looking forward to this for months. Obviously it’s hard to do, but it’s cool to do something that not every team does, so it really is a bonding experience. I was really excited and I even go back sometimes with alumni now to just go on the hike with the guys just because it’s so fun,” recalled 2015 alumnus Conor Regan.

There’s also a 50 lb “Team Rock” that starts the hike with one captain and ends with the other. The captain that starts carrying the rock will switch rocks with a designated player and carry his rock until its time to pass the Team Rock to the next player. Players must share the load and pass rocks with each other in order to maneuver through challenging obstacles.  

“The first year we did it, it made a few people that were on the fence commit. The second year we did it two people that came to Babson to play basketball, and were just trying rugby, made the decision to stay,” reflected 2015 alumnus Ryan Vayo.

After completing the first hike in 2013 the rocks were brought back to campus and onto the Harrington Rugby Pitch, named after one of the late founding members of the team, Charlie Harrington ‘83. The Team Rock was painted black and brought to every game, meanwhile all of the hikers laid their rocks in a large pile along with it. The Team Rock travels with Babson to all their games, meanwhile the rock one chooses for their first hike is then ‘recycled’ and used in any future “Rock Hike” one goes on.

“It is a very intense adventure and pretty much puts the guys on the proper mindset that TEAMWORK requires commitment,” continued Pell who has been coaching for the business college since March 2012.

Babson’s June 1 Results:

Susquehanna 19 vs Babson 10

Babson 0 vs. New Mexico Highlands 45

Babson 19 vs Louisiana State-Alexandria 12

For all of today’s match scores and to see tomorrow’s game schedule click here.

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