Junior Dominic Mann was always athletically inclined, but didn’t have much opportunity to play organized sports growing up, so he often satisfied his athletic interests by playing Frisbee, basketball, and football with friends. While in high school, he was a serious student, graduating Seton Home Study High School with a 4.0 grade point average and with an eye on attending Christendom after graduation. But while visiting his older brother, Jordan, at Christendom, he encountered the sport of rugby. Not having seen a rugby game before, nor knowing any of the rules of play, he was nevertheless impressed by the speed and force of the game. Mann watched from afar as Christendom competed in hard-fought, varsity rugby, and started to pay attention to videos and standings of the Christendom Rugby team. After that, he was hooked. With the intention of someday being able to be called a Crusader on the rugby pitch, he threw himself into his regular weightlifting and training and started working out and building up his strength and stamina for the tough sport.
When Mann arrived at Christendom in the fall of 2014, he attended a few team practices and then tried out for the team. At most colleges, walk-ons without high school experience in a particular sport have little chance to make the team. At Christendom, things are different. Any student can try out for any sport at Christendom and, in the case of rugby, they have a decent chance of at least making it onto the team’s B-Team. He initially made the B-Team and got some playing time against other college’s B-Teams, but, by the spring of his freshman year in 2015, he was on the A-Team. Mann’s size, speed, mastery of technique, and eye for strategy gave him an advantage on the field, impressing his coaches. Even more, Mann was quickly realizing a fact: he had found a true passion in Christendom’s rugby squad.
“Being a member of the varsity rugby team has truly been one of my highlights here at Christendom,” says Mann. “It helps me focus my energies both on the field and off, and helps me to remember that I can’t excel at anything unless I do my absolute best in everything. Due to the team nature of the sport, it has given me a unique sense of brotherhood through sacrifice that cannot be achieved in any other way. I believe that Christendom has given me this unique opportunity, because here the team is inclusive and accepts all guys no matter their experience, whereas it would be much more difficult to make the cut for some larger schools. That said, I find it truly incredible that Christendom’s rugby team has taken on and defeated much larger-name schools such as Duke and James Madison University, which claim a much more elite athletic status yet don’t possess the spirit or discipline of the Christendom Crusaders.”
Today, when he’s not in the classroom, there’s a good chance you will find Mann with Christendom’s rugby team, helping the rest of the team condition and train in between practices as a key member of the squad, thanks to a workout program he devised. With Mann on the team, Christendom’s rugby team is enjoying the most success it’s ever had, with a 20-win season last year (a Christendom record), a 4-1-1 record so far this year, and a berth in the NSCRO 7’s National Championship this coming June. Mann may not have played rugby before coming to Christendom, but now, thanks to coming to the college, he’s become a true threat on the rugby field, and could not be happier.
“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of athletics, especially in an academic environment. It gives you the outlet to channel all of your energies, both intellectual and physical. However, I feel that the greatest value of sports, especially here at Christendom, is the way they center everything around Christ and living a virtuous life. Sports at Christendom are about winning, but here the purpose of winning and of sacrificing for the team is ultimately to give greater glory to God. Playing rugby at Christendom has increased my love of my Faith, and has given me the desire to be a Crusader for Christ both on and off the field,” says Mann.