The South River Sentinels High School boys had a fun season that did have its challenges. Despite injuries, the guys had a lot of fun and great camaraderie. See the pictures below for evidence!
My name is Ben Ficklin and I am the head coach of the South River Sentinels Boy’s Rugby Club. I started playing rugby when I was a junior in high school after a friend of mine had been pestering me to play for two years already. Not starting rugby earlier is one of the biggest regrets of my life. I have been involved with rugby ever since. In college I had the privilege to play for St. John’s University for my entire tenure. I was selected for the All Minnesota team two years, as well as the All Midwest team for two years. After college, I began playing for the Eastside Banshees, a men’s team based out of the South Minneapolis area. I have loved rugby all the while and hope to share that passion with my players. During the day I am an 8th grade science teacher at Twin Oaks Middle School in Prior Lake. I love my job, and I love science! In my spare time, I enjoy doting on my wife, Kelly, riding my motorcycle, working out, doing yoga and reading (a lot of National Geographic and Smithsonian magazines).
My motivation for coaching rugby is simply to share the game. It is a great game because of it’s unique physical and mental challenges as well as the social aspect of rugby. It is the only sport that I have ever been a part of with the expectation being that the hosting team feed the visiting team after the match. This seems so unique in high school, that the players are forced to socialize with the opponents, and I think that is wonderful. This leads in to a national network of ruggers. Once you meet a fellow rugger, you immediately have a friend. This is why I coach rugby.
When I coach, I try to keep in mind that we are fortunate enough to live in a time and a place that allows us to have time to get together and play a game. We spend time together and play a game. We are very fortunate for the opportunity and need to keep that in mind. It is a game that we can take seriously, but we should try not to take ourselves too seriously.
As we move forward, obviously I would like to grow the team, but I’m much more focused on growing the players. I endeavor and hope to instill dignity, respect, a hard work ethic and humility in my players. I want to produce solid people more so than solid players. If I succeed in that, I think the rest will take care of itself.
My name is Dan Sikowski and I am the High School Boys Assistant coach. I got my start competing in organized sports at a young age with wrestling. I attribute much of my success as an athlete, coach, and teacher to lessons learned in the sport; however, during my Junior year of high school, several wrestling teammates convinced me to tryout with the local rugby club. Looking back, this was one of the single best decisions I have ever made. I have since competed with the UW Stout Men’s Club team, the WI U-19 Select Side, the WI U-24 Select Side, and currently play for the Eastside Banshees here in MN. My passion for the sport continues to grow with each passing year.
In addition to rugby, I am also a Technology Education Teacher at Prior Lake High School. After earning a degree from UW Stout in education, I spent several years in central WI teaching and coaching (wrestling, football and of course, rugby.) Among other reasons, moving to MN has availed me additional opportunities to be near the sport of rugby as both a player and coach. Outside of teaching or coaching, students and athletes alike know I enjoy spending time riding motorcycles. When I can’t be found on the open road, I am probably in the shop tinkering away at another custom project.
I approach coaching similar to teaching; I believe learning is fun and have tried to pass that along to the individuals I work with. In the classroom, I do not expect to turn out welders, plumbers, engineers or cabinet makers. I use technology education as a vessel to teach life skills such as problem solving, communication, quality and grit. On the rugby pitch, I want to develop the same characteristics in young athletes. Rugby doesn’t come without dropped passes, bruises, extra conditioning or tallies in the loss column. The experiences, memories and relationships are worth every second and I wouldn’t trade the fun I’ve had around this sport for the world.