In a cross-cultural experience of a lifetime, the Roger Williams University wrestling team traveled to Northern Ireland from June 10 to 19, to compete in the first Celtic Cup, a wrestling tournament aimed at encouraging more young people across the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom to take up the sport. The Hawk’s participation in the historical competition was featured in a report by BBC Newsline, which included a brief interview with RWU’s Acting Director of Athletics and Head Wrestling Coach Dave Kemmy.
The Hawks’ eight-day stay included a pair of joint training sessions with teams from Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. After winning both sessions by scores of 55-19 and 35-4, the team found time to give back to local youth, hosting clinics for youth wrestlers for three days in the North Ireland town of Derry. In addition to their hands-on mentorship, the Hawks also provided wrestling shoes, t-shirts and other items to underprivileged youth.
“It was such a tremendous experience for our student-athletes,” Kemmy says. “To be able to explore the Irish culture and work with local youth first-hand was an eye-opening experience for our guys. The fact that we dominated in competition was just icing on an incredible trip.”
After hitting the mats, the team spent several days soaking in the sights, sounds and culture of the country, taking a guided walking tour of Derry, the only remaining walled city in Northern Ireland. They also explored Giant's Causeway – the site of 40,000 basalt stone columns formed by volcanic eruptions over 60 million years ago and 400-foot cliffs – as well as the site of ‘Bloody Sunday,’ where 14 people were killed January 30, 1972 during a 40-year period of conflict between Protestant and Catholic factions. Other sites visited included Boyne Palace, the Old Bushmill's Distillery, Belfast City Hall and the Thompson Graving Dock, where the Titanic was built.
The Hawks also traveled to Dublin, where they visited Dublin Castle, historic Trinity College, the Molly Malone and James Joyce statues, Oscar Wilde's former residence, St. Patrick's Cathedral, the House of Lords, the old city walls and, of course, Guinness-Storehouse and Brewery, the oldest brewery in Ireland.
“This was a trip I will remember for the rest of my life,” RWU Hawk John Paul Garlasco ’11 says. “It was awesome!”