News and Announcements
Our teammate Matt McKnight has recently written a children’s book so we decided to ask him a few questions about it and share the info on where you can find Matt online and where you can purchase the book.
1. What is this book about?
The Animal Alphabet is a fun way to learn the English alphabet through an assortment of colorful characters.
2. Why write this book in particular?
I wrote this book because, when I was a little kid, I was very shy and didn’t have a lot of friends. The way I connected with the world was through my art. People would see me drawing, so I played a game where I asked them, “What is your favorite animal? What do you want to be when you grow up?”. Then I would combined their answers and make a drawing completely tailored to that person. It helped me learn about people. I’ve always been very curious on what makes people tick, what motivates them, and what they want to do every day they wake up. I believe that we are an accumulation of all the people we have met and we can learn a lot from each other.
3. Who would you say is the target audience for this book?
Ideally children, anyone looking to learn the English Alphabet, and people who enjoy colors and/or animal drawings. I aim more for the younger audience because they are sponges, always taking to new things and learning from them.
4. Where can we get this book?
You can go to my shop set up on Blurb – here’s the link http://www.blurb.com/b/8681453-the-animal-alphabet
5. If someone reaches out to you and buys a book will you do a custom inscription?
Absolutely. If you want me to sign your book, Ill happily oblige and do a little doodle. Makes me feel all fuzzy wuzzy inside :)
6. Where can people find you online and on social media?
You can also go to my website – www.mattmcknightart.com – or shoot me an email – email@example.com – You can checkout my Facebook page " Matt McKnight Art " or follow me on Instagram – @mattymcknut – I post a lot of art, a lot of the time. If you’re looking for commissioned work or prints of other work, don hesitate to reach out :)
7. What can we expect from Matt McKnight in the future?
I definitely know I will be drawing a lot more, making more art, and working on my next book (As I type this answer). Updates will be posted on my social media and websites, GO FOLLOW NOW :D
Schuylkill River’s John Hines has recently launched his fitness brand alongside some of his family members. We’ve asked John a few questions so that you can decide if Hines Fit is right for you. Find them on Instagram at hinesfit or e-mail John at hinesjohnathan14(at)yahoo.com to get started!
1. So what exactly is Hines Fit?
Hines fit is a movement thought up while we (me, my brother Vaughn and my cousin Rajohn) were doing Uncle Rob Fitness (which is a workout series at my Uncle Rob’s home gym). We’ve been talking about it for a while and I just decided to make it a reality.
2. Who is involved with Hines Fit?
So far on the team we have me, Vaughn and Rajohn. You can actually even include uncle Rob because he’s a Hines and he always posts that he’s active and working. We are a growing team, Vaughn had his first client recently and we have a few prospective clients. We are looking for even more members to further push and build the movement and brand.
3. What are your credentials?
We don’t have any schooling credentials but we have plenty of experience. I’ve been working out since about 2013 and I also was the strength and conditioning coach of St. Bonaventure University’s women’s rugby team in the 2014 season (state champs!!). Vaughn has been lifting since about 2014, his freshman year of High school, with the St. Joe’s Prep football team. He’s been super enthusiastic about working out since he’s gotten the first of his gains and even pushed himself further than the already rigorous football workout routines. Rajohn’s been working out for a while now. He and his wife weren’t happy with how they looked and felt and they decided to jump head first into the health and fitness world to continue their progress and to help others.
4. What’s the pricing structure for Hines Fit?
Right now, we’re starting small. We do personal training sessions for $10 per hour and we do group sessions at the gym and even outside, when the weather is nice, for $10 per person. This is distance specific as defined below.
5. Where are you located?
We travel to accommodate to our trainees because we want to reach as many people as possible, however, our home gyms are Planet fitness on 24th and Oregon Ave, Planet fitness on Island and Lindbergh Blvd and also, for LA fitness members, LA fitness on 24th and Oregon.
6. What services are provided?
At the moment we only really advertise workouts and training but we’re working on dietary advice and movement apparel.
7. Do you travel to clients, and if so, what’s the fee?
As stated above, we do travel to our trainees if need be. The rate is $5 for travels between 35 and 49 minutes and $10 for anything exceeding 50 minutes.
8. What is your fitness philosophy?
My fitness philosophy isI just encouraging others to always strive to be a better version of themselves. Fitness is a great representation of that because during your fitness journey you can learn important attributes like patience and perseverance, which carry over into other facets of your life.
9. It’s a good thing you’ve been spending so much time getting fit because I hear you’re going to be in a movie pretty soon about the North Philadelphia Nomads U19 rugby team. Tell us a little about that.
The Nomads movie is gonna be so awesome! I’m having so much fun being a part of this project! Anywho, I’m just a Special Abilities Extra (I prefer Rugby Extraordinaire). That’s all I can really say at the moment, as that’s all I know.
Schuylkill River had another big weekend at the Collegiate Rugby Championship (https://www.usasevenscrc.com) in Chester PA two weeks ago following up on last year’s tournament which featured four coaches and twelve players with connections to our club. This time around the numbers were even higher for Philadelphia rugby’s flagship 7s tean as an incredible eight coaches and fifteen players with previous involvement in our program competed in the event.
In the Freedom Division the Villanova Wildcats were coached by River U23 Academy coach Biddy Boyle alongside Schuylkill Hall of Famer Steve Green and were led on the field by PJ Maher and Matt Hughes. Drexel also participated in the Freedom Division with River 7s head coach Mike Burch and 2017 All-American Kyle Kent leading the way. Last but not least, West Chester was coached by Schuylkill old boy Bjorn Haglid and current Schuylkill 7s player Tyler Anderson with players Paul Diorio and John King taking the field.
In the Championship division the University of Delaware Blue Hens were coached by Schuylkill old boy Stru Murray alongside current Schuylkill 7s player Mitch Vannoy and on the field featured a quarter of Schuylkill players including John McCurdy, Joe Osinubi, Grayson Haynes, and Matt Ramires. Kutztown was also in the Championship division and matched UDel with a quarter of their own with Jason DeNofa, Sam Devine, Angel Santiago, and Brandon Boon led by legendary KU coach and Schuylkill manager Doc Jones. Also competing in the Championship division were Boston College and Riley Curtain as well as St. Joes and Chris Curcio.
This of course is in addition to the fact that Schuylkill’s new U19 team made their debut with twelve players at the high school division of this event and was coached by five active Schuylkill players including Greg Mininger, Ben Janssen, Dan Deal, Ryan McHugh, and Dave Codell. Schuylkill River is proud of what all of these great players have accomplished and we are happy that our 7s program has helped them along the way. We look forward to developing even more talent in the summer of 2018 and continuing to work on our grass roots Philadelphia rugby initiatives.
With the first MAC qualifier of the season coming up this weekend Ben Janssen has been named Captain of Schuylkill River’s 7s program. To get to know more about Ben’s background and what he brings to the table check out the interview he recently did for us.
1. What is your rugby background?
I first played in high school with Coatesville Rugby Club, a club that unfortunately received no support from the school and has since disbanded, during that time I also played with Brandywine Men’s Club and eventually found my way to Penn State Men’s Rugby Club. Penn State opened the door to the select sides of Atlantis and representing Philadelphia in the Select Cities tournament in Houston where I met Pudge (Chris Ryan). After the Select Cities tournament, I knew I wanted to play on whatever team he was coaching and that brought me to Schuylkill River.
2. What notable accomplishments do you have in 7s and what sort of select side representation have you been involved in?
As mentioned above I played with Atlantis and Philadelphia Selects but I was also back-to-back first team Big Ten and had the privileged of competing in the first 5 CRCs.
3. What are you going to bring to the table as the Captain of Schuylkill’s 7s program and how would you describe your leadership style?
Well first and foremost I think everyone on the team, the rugby community, possibly the planet knows how much I hate losing so I think that will drive performance but I also bring a solid range of knowledge and a never say die work ethic to the team. When I’m on the field I’m running as hard and as fast as I can till the game ends or you pull me from the field. In the really gritty minutes of sevens I think guys respect a person who lays it on the line for the team.
4. Schuylkill’s 7s program is much more than just the Premier side. How do you intend to help develop the players on the U-23 side and help the less experienced players learn the game?
Aside from recently taking up coaching our U19 program, I start with recruiting. It’s really sad to me that there are not more Penn State Men’s club Alumni in the Philly area willing to play high level rugby so I go after players from my alma mater first. From PSU I move onto the connections I have made throughout my rugby career to pull in as many players as possible. Then comes development, I believe one of the greatest ways elevate your play is to play against higher competition. Collegiate athletes, recent graduates and less experienced players can come to Schuylkill knowing they will get better because they will be competing against a nationally competitive side every practice. Our coaching staff and senior players are exceptional at explaining our style of play and will field any question a younger or less experienced player may have. Schuylkill also has the advantage of entering multiple teams into tournaments and frequently get to watch one another play. This gives the more experienced players an opportunity to watch the U23 side play and critique their individual and team play, conversely the U23 and open sides get to watch the premier at a high level and learn from our mistakes and what we do well.
5. Speaking of helping less experienced players learn the game, you recently helped coach Schuylkill’s first ever U-19 team at the High School Rugby Championship as part of the Collegiate Rugby Championship that takes place in Chester every year. How would you describe that experience and what have you learned from it?
Being a first time coach was incredible. Teaching our U19 players the game I love and seeing their ability to learn and fall in love with it was an experience I will never forget and hope to continue to do. I learned areas where I need to improve as a player and a teacher and learned somehow I am more psychotic on the sidelines as a coach than on the field as a player…… definitely an area for improvement.
6. What do you most look forward to as a member of Schuylkill’s 7s program?
I love everything about sevens; the fitness, the training, all day tournaments, the brotherhood you form with your teammates, and especially winning. My wife has six national championships (four 15s and two 7s) and I have 0, SRE 7s puts me I a solid position to attempt to narrow that gap as we’re nationally completive every year.
7. If someone was on the fence about coming to play 7s for Schuylkill River what would you want them to know?
If you want to become a better rugby player, come play with us. Even if you do not have the premier side time commitment we can accommodate whatever level of 7s you are looking to play but I can guarantee you will get significantly better throughout the summer. No other program in the area will develop your game like Schuylkill.
Bonus Question: You scored a match winning try for Penn State at the Collegiate Rugby Championship against Ohio State and Nate Ebner who currently plays for the New England Patriots. Is it true that the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots in Superbowl 52 with a backup quarterback and are currently the defending Superbowl champs?
It is in fact true, I like to believe the seeds of the patriots defeat were created that day in 2011. I’m sure the tale of a PA team snatching victory from the jaws of defeat of a “better” team spread far and wide and shook the patriots team to the core.
We’ve got a special interview this week as 7s season kicks off and we chat with Director of Rugby Pat Boyle.
1) What is your background in 7’s and what have you accomplished in your career so far? For anyone who has walked around with you at 7’s event, its seem like you know everyone.
Well, it probably just mean’s I’m old. Serious now, I am actually lucky, as I always say I was brought up in 7’s. Long before 7’s was played in college, the only 7’s was with men’s teams. When I was 20, I found Lehigh Valley Rugby Club who were very serious about 7’s and coached by Joe Morrison, and the Emperor, Emil Signes. Those 2 coaches really showed me the competitive side of rugby. In those first couple years, I went to Nationals twice with LVRC, played for Atlantis, attended All-American camp, and did a bunch of select side stuff. After that, all I wanted to do was play at the highest level I could. In 2008, most of us from LV had moved away from the area, and that’s when Will Knipscher and I started the 7’s program at Schuylkill River. We are now a decade in and SR has made it to Nationals 8 times. I really don’t take enough time to stop and really appreciate it, but the consistency we have had is remarkable. A lot of that credit goes to Chris Ryan as well who has been a rock for our program as coach for many years.
2) Piggybacking off of that, at 33, you are young to be a Director of Rugby of a Nationally recognized 7’s program.
Yes, certainly, that is true, but I never really thought of it like that. I started the 7’s program here when I was 23. So age aside, I have 10 years’ experience. We started this thing from the ground up, so there isn’t a detail I don’t know about, and I think that really helps. Certainly, made some missteps through the years, but we are stronger for it.
3)A lot of talented players have obviously chosen to play 7s for Schuylkill but what do you do to develop talent internally and help all players reach their peak?
Honestly, this is what separates our program I believe from everyone else. We are a true club model. We have never turned away a player no matter their skill level or athletic ability. We have done all of that while still playing 7’s at the highest level. From our earliest beginnings, we always had 2 sides, and now we consistently put out 3 to 4 sides every weekend which is unheard of most places in the country. We know we can’t compete with a model other teams have of importing talent. We must build from within, and everyone in the program knows it, its ingrained in our culture, and it’s who we are. 10 years ago, we weren’t alone in this, but over the past couple years, the rise of the all-star 7’s sides have really come to dominate the scene. I fully support that and think it’s great for the game, but that’s not who we are. Certainly, our top guys have different goals and focus on that at training, but if you come to Schuylkill, 1 through 100 is getting coached and developing. I can guarantee that.
4)What can you tell us about the coaching staff that Schuylkill has put together this year?
Our coaching staff is really second to none, and I say that with the utmost confidence. This year, Chris Ryan, our longtime coach is stepping into an Associate Head Coach role, and Mike Burch is taking over as Head Coach. Beaver has been with our program from day one, first as a player, then as Chris’ assistant coach. Beaver is an embodiment of everything this program stands for, and we couldn’t be more excited for him. I don’t mean to steal Chris’ thunder, but in talking to him, he felt it was time for Beaver to lead the ship. Chris believes in coaching coaches, and although not walking away, it was time his apprentice led. On our U23 side, Biddy Boyle is the head man. I could go on about Biddy’s credentials, but the fact that this man leads our U23 team, just speaks to the strength of our coaching staff. Josh Mastromatto is also moving into a coaching role focusing on agility, and fitness, as well as developing the younger players. Josh is such an accomplished athlete, and came to rugby late, so he has a unique perspective on things. Having someone dedicated to the fitness side of things is a huge asset. Top to bottom, you would be hard pressed to find a staff so accomplished in the country but yet also improving every tier within our program.
One word, consistency. The game of 7’s is all about how consistent you can play for 14 minutes. Running a 7’s program is the same way. You come to Schuylkill River you know exactly what you are going to get: challenged every day, great coaching, great mentors for young players, play at the highest level. Now we have gotten to the point we have a dedicated U23 team and all they have done is win back-to back MAC Open championships in 2 years of existence. This year with mass amounts of work from our President, Dave Codell, we launched a U19 7’s side. This program isn’t slowing down, it’s only getting started.
We have grown All Americans, MLR players, Select Side players, and numerous National Camp invites, so if you want that, it’s here . On the same end, if you are a notch below, you still get all the same access to coaching and that identical environment.
In the end, we know exactly who we are and how to make players, and teams better. For 10 years, there has been one constant in the Mid-Atlantic and Philadelphia for 7’s, and that is River, that doesn’t just happen by coincidence. We have seen clubs come and go and I don’t think they realize how hard it is to play that level, and maintain it. Lastly, It is not easy to play for us, you have to want to the best which has nothing to do with ability. If you really want to be the best player you can be, there isn’t a question where I think guys should play.
6) Tell us about the development and success of Schuylkill’s U23 academy and about some players who have played for the academy but also earned a trip to nationals with the premier side?
The academy side is great and in both years we have had multiple players never even play for our top side (or very little) and make the Premier Side which went to nationals. Again, all of that is possible because our U23 side is playing in the exact same environment, and getting great coaching, so for us it’s not you didn’t make the top side this weekend, you are forgotten. Its more, how do I get you there. I always remember, our first year of U23, Biddy Boyle told Brian Keown he would make the top side by the end of the summer. No one knew Biddy told him this, but by the last tournament before Nationals, Brian made the top side and went to Nationals. Now a couple years later, Keown is arguably the best player in the entire club. That’s the beauty of the club, first, we have an environment where that growth could take place, but second, we have a culture where Keown didn’t complain, he simply worked harder. I would tell every college player, give us a summer, I guarantee you come back to school that much better.
7)Going with that, why have so many high level players (All-Americans, MLR, etc.) come to SR to play?
Pretty much everything I said before, but I think the biggest thing is they know it won’t be easy, but the reward is so much sweeter. Nationally, we know we are never going to be favorites yet year in and year out we play and succeed at that level. The reason is simple, grinding for everything both physically and intellectually. We will not succeed unless everyone is a step above our competition in understanding the game, and then also in top condition physically. Even then, it sometimes isn’t enough. At the end of that process though, you are such a better player and guys who have that desire, seek that out here. Again, it isn’t easy to play here, but if you want to get better it will happen. Obviously, if making all-American you have probably have that desire, so the attraction is there.
8) Lastly, tell us the best part about being a member of Schuylkill River 7s.
Cliché, but it’s the brotherhood. 7’s is grueling. For 6 or 7 weeks when everyone else is at the beach, you get up at 5/6am and travel to go play rugby for 8 hours in the heat. Trust me, if you don’t have a brotherhood with those conditions, your program is sinking quick. Its why 7’s guys get so close I think because just the amount of time you spend together is huge. On top of that, we have 3 or 4 for sides, so the mix of people is crazy, and amazingly entertaining. It’s a family honestly, you have your super talented cousin who is pushing for the Eagles, and then your crazy cousin who is primarily there simply to cheer for said talented cousin and maybe play some rugby. In all of that, it forms a family, and more than anything, probably why we have been successful.