NORFOLK, Va. - A block away from the intersection of Barraud Avenue and Rugby Street, coach Keith Wright is taking Norfolk teens down a whole new road.
"You need every physical attribute you have to play rugby," Wright explained. "Mind, body and spirit."
What's not required? Experience. Last year, Wright and Anthony Kowalski started the Norfolk Blues High School Rugby Club.
"We had to start by telling them what the sport is," Kowalski admitted. "They`ve never heard of rugby."
The club is made up of two dozen students from high schools like Norview, Booker T. Washington and Granby who have a nose for one of the oldest sports in the world. And just a nose for the world, when they travel up and down the east coast for tournaments.
"A lot of the kids had not been out of Norfolk," Kowalski realized. "We drove by a pasture, they smelled cow manure and didn't know what it was."
"Rugby gives you the opportunity, in a competitive environment, to make decisions," Wright added. "Not just for yourself, for other kids."
And some on-the-field decisions, like merely going on the field, effect more than just the win or loss column.
"If it wasn't for rugby - I don`t know where I`d be," 18 year old Demonta Williams said honestly. "Probably in jail somewhere."
When he first joined the high school club, Demonta Williams wasn't even in high school. He was relegated to an alternative campus because of behavior. He's now a captain of the Blues.
"I grew up a troubled kid," Williams revealed. "Since I started playing, it's taught me a lot about respect & self control."
"They can further their education, broaden their sense of the world," Wright pointed-out. "This is going to give them another avenue."
An avenue that can be found by going down a whole new road - one block off Rugby Street.
--To learn more about Norfolk Blues Rugby, click here to visit the club's website