Carllieon “Carl” Felder ‘19 grew up on the East side of Cleveland with his older and younger siblings. Before Carl’s rugby career in high school started in eighth grade, Carl tried his luck at shot put and was a one time hurdler, but this wasn't the right fit for Carl. His parents wanted him to be careful, but where very supportive of his athletic ventures. Due to a lack knowledge of rugby, they could only support Carl in his decision to play rugby freshman year. At this point, I’ll hand over the mic to Carl to reflect on his four seasons with the Rugby Cats.
“My first year at Saint Ignatius High School was something new for me—a new beginning. Going into my freshman year after settling in, I began to get bored. I thought to myself, “How about you join a club?” And so I did.
“The first club I ever joined was the ping-pong club and Senora Sebring was the person in charge. Not only that, but she was my Spanish 1 teacher, so we were already cool. After many months of involvement with the ping- pong club, I began to get bored again, so I told myself “Find yourself something else to do,” and so I did. I don’t remember exactly how I found the rugby team, but I did, so thank you, God.
“I went to the orientation to find out more about the game that I was about to get myself into, but it didn’t matter because I got tired of being bored. I finally had my first rugby practice and I got to meet my freshman coach, Coach Vegh and he was simply the best first coach I’ve ever had. That's when I started playing rugby.
“Moving on from my freshman year into my sophomore year was a big thing for me. I knew what I had to do school-wise and I was beginning to understand the game of rugby more. Who would have thought that I would be playing with the big boys coming from off the freshman team? Not me. That year was a memorable year for me. I participated in practice with varsity guys, learning new line outs and new techniques. I played in a good amount of games, and made new friends. I also had the opportunity to play in France, where we won all three games. My sophomore year was one of my best years of playing rugby because I saw how much I was progressing in the game of rugby.
“In my junior year, rugby started to become a breeze because I learned that basics of the sport, the techniques, and had a really good feeling of how the game was supposed to be played, which is at a fast pace and being very physical. I remained a part of the varsity team and still worked hard and learned everything I could to keep my spot on the varsity team. At the least, I wanted to show the coaches how hard I was working so they could keep me with the starting fifteen. That year was good because we won our third championship against Saint Edward at Fortress Obetz in Columbus. We played physically, we played great defense, and we held our ground, which made the Eagles very frustrated. We simply went by our game plan that Head Coach Dan Arbeznik planned for us and dominated that plan. Good things came from it. It was honor to play in that game, with that being the last game as a Saint Ignatius Rugby player for last year’s seniors. Not only did I have a great rugby season in my junior year, but I also had a great academic year.
“Now, it’s my senior year and it's time for me to give everything that I have to make sure this team ends on a good note. It's been such a great experience to learn about rugby, to play rugby, to be a leader on the team, and most of all, to enjoy playing rugby with my teammates. Rugby has played a huge role in my life in so many ways, such as making new friends, meeting new people, traveling the all over the whole wide world, and just being part of a sport that is all about brotherhood. I can’t thank this sport enough, because it's such a blessing to be able to encounter so many wonderful things.”
Carl has many people he would like to thank for helping him along his Saint Ignatius rugby journey.
“Thanks to Coach Vegh for being my first rugby coach. Thanks to Coach Arbeznik for being such understanding and discipline coach. Thanks to Coach Whitey and Coach Dipietro and Coach Gaughan for being such a funny forward coaches. Thanks to Jacob Novak and all the other managers for being so helpful to the team. I really appreciate everything you have done for me on the rugby pitch, emotionally, and personally. You guys are truly M4O.”