March 25, 2024

What Husky Rugby Means To Me: Steve "Grog" Greiling

Within minutes of attending my first-ever rugby practice my freshman year, I was hooked on this new adrenaline high, and Husky Rugby quickly became the foundation of my collegiate experience. In retrospect, there is little doubt my five years playing Husky Rugby greatly influenced who I am today, on par with the academic credentials from my UW degree in Construction Management.

  • Most of my best collegiate memories are directly affiliated with Husky Rugby. A few practice hours into my new sport, I was the rookie wearing high school football cleats for my first-ever league rugby match against WWU when only nine Husky teammates showed up, and our coach also had to referee (we borrowed five WWU players to make XV and used three-year-old torn jerseys for both A & B-side matches – embarrassing & intimidating)
  • The adrenaline-inducing blood, sweat, and pain involved in every practice and match at the infamous "Mud Bowl" when the rain and wind never seemed to stop in fall '98 (I got hypothermia and was taken to UWMC Urgent Care – grit & perseverance)
  • An unfortunate extended gap in coaching resulted in our very own Kevin Fuller stepping up to be the Head Coach because he had the most international rugby experience – despite him being 17-years-old at the time!!! (trust in teammates) – before a legendary multi-year coaching saga ensued
  • Being interviewed by UW's "The Daily" for a giant front-page article (old-school newspaper days!!!) endorsing UW Rugby on campus (professional appearance – we ARE tougher than football players!)
  • Recruitment-fundraising-recruitment-fundraising-recruitment...that ethos led to dozens of friends as we swelled to 50+ routine teammates my 3rd – 5th years (strength in numbers, marketing, & diplomacy)
  • Getting my nickname "Grog" (when traveling on different continents, "GROG!" has twice been cordially called out in a crowd – only to learn they didn't know my real name!)
  • Countless parties and two great years living at THE Rugby House (10-teammates in one house with 250+ person parties!)
  • Exhilarating fun-filled weekend away games and hours of laughter and Kangaroo Court on the return trip (camaraderie)
  • Team president my sophomore and junior years and then teammates honoring me as their Forwards-Captain my 4th & 5th years (leadership & commitment)
  • Awesome volunteer coaches my final years (shout out to Ward, Duffin, and the late Larry Nash and Mike Jacobson – R.I.P. and thanks for all you taught me about life)
  • Monday night skills and fitness running the ramps and stairways of Husky Stadium followed by training on the main field turf under the full lights (inspirational, fun, and proof the University started taking UW Rugby's success seriously)
  • Eight-Man-Todd's mom Laurie Harry cheering us on with my then-girlfriend-now-wife physician being the team's "free triage ambulance" for 2.5-years' worth of match day injuries for most Home & Away games (faithful fan club)
  • The thrill of repeatedly beating CWU for the always hard-fought league title (determination)
  • A big win at the Cal Invitational and then a first-round playoff victory (hard work pays off!)
  • Most importantly lifelong friends' weddings, reunions, family celebrations, and celebrating the afterlife (brotherhood, blood, sweat, & lifelong tears – R.I.P. Ryan Job and John Straub – both Husky Rugby teammates and veterans of the U.S. Navy who taught me about honor and what it means to sacrifice on the grandest stage in both combat and battling cancer.)

Husky Rugby takes sincere mental strength to voluntarily engage in such an intense sport through Seattle's wet season weather while maturing and juggling UW's internationally renowned curriculum. It is a TOUGH game that requires dedication, self-sacrifice, teamwork, and resiliency. For those that "stick it out" for several years, the camaraderie is exceptional, and the character traits developed from weekly battles on the pitch are a primer for professional leadership and knowing how to push beyond a normal human's limits. UW's acceptance rate already filters out the best students, but I honestly believe Husky Rugby is one of the best screening tools at the University, creating extraordinary Husky graduates. ONWARD HUSKY RUGBY!

– Steve Greiling, "Grog" Husky Rugby 1997-'02

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