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The USRFF has announced the winners of the 2011 Kevin Higgins College Scholarships. The $1,000 scholarships, named in honor of one of the all-time great U.S. centers, Kevin Higgins,  (pictured), are awarded to graduating high school seniors who have gone onto continue their education and rugby at the collegiate level. This year's 10 recipients brings the total to 31 Higgins Scholarship winners since the program was established in 2008.

"Selecting the Kevin Higgins College Scholarship recipients continues to be a difficult yet rewarding task for the Scholarship Committee," said USRFF Executive Director Brian Vizard. "Every application we receive is from a deserving young man or woman and all of them would be worthy of receiving a Higgins Scholarship."

This year's Kevin Higgins College Scholarship winners are:

 

Ben Mancuso led his high school team to back to back undefeated league seasons and this past year a 6th place ranking in the United States. He also gives back to his community by volunteering at a local nursing home; Habitat for Humanity, which builds low income housing in his area; Sojourner House for battered women; and Challenger Baseball, helping physically disabled children play baseball. He’s also made Christmas a special time for those in need as he’s been helping serve Christmas dinner with the local Lions Club since he was 10 years old. And that's just touching the surface... Read more about Ben Mancuso.

 

Race Noeldner helped lead his Pulaski Roos high school rugby team to two state titles in three years. In addition, he was a prestigious member of the National Honor Society his junior and senior years as well as being the business editor and journalist for the student run newspaper. He was a member of Pulaski High’s Spanish Club; the Leo Club, which promoted volunteerism; and the Raider Crew Club, helping freshmen adjust to high school life. He played basketball his freshman and sophomore years, and football all four years at Pulaski and was captain of the football team his junior and senior years. Rugby is so important to him he turned down Division I football scholarships... Read more about Race Noeldner.

Hope Rogers was a scoring machine her senior year in high school, dotting down 30 tries from her number 8 position and slotting 10 conversions as her South Penn high school won the Eastern Penn Division II championship. Her high school coach saw something very special in Hope. "She had the size of a prototypical prop, but she was the fastest girl on the team." A rare combination indeed. But then again, much about Hope is rare...  Read more about Hope Rogers.

Zach Thorum can be an inspiration to us all as he went through a young life that featured more downs than ups. Despite his setbacks Zach worked hard in the classroom and on the sports fields but nothing seemed to go his way. That is until he found rugby, and then the ups started gaining ground on the downs. A good player in his own right, read Zach's selfless act that kept him from playing rugby his senior season... Read more about Zach Thorum.

Matt Chipman was a member of multi-National Championship teams at Jesuit High School in Sacramento, CA, including his senior year when his team finished undefeated while also winning the California State Title. Matt was an honors student at Jesuit, carrying a 3.7 GPA. He was also the vice-president of Operation Smile, a group that raised money to get cleft pallet surgeries for children in Third World Countries. He also gave back to his Sacramento community...  Read more about Matt Chipman.

Kaisee Wiesmeuller was a shy and soft spoken freshman when she first started playing the sport. The sport helped her gain confidence and she led her high school team to national prominance. She has always been smart and carried a 3.7 GPA and was a member of the National Honors Society from 2009-2011. She also loves animals and has volunteered her time at the Wisconsin Humane Society. She has donated her hair to Locks of Love for the past four years and was the editor of her high school yearbook her junior and senior years. There's even more to know about Kaisee...  Read more about Kaisee Wiesmueller.

Rob Mabry was one of the St. Thomas High School’s vice-captains in 2011. He was chosen as the team’s Most Valuable Offensive Player and helped lead St. Thomas to the Texas State Championship. But as an Eagle Scout, Rob was just as important to the Houston Community, planting hundreds of trees and rebuilding duck houses destroyed by Hurricane Ike. Read why Rob's high school coach said Rob "Is the perfect example of what’s right in rugby.”...   Read more about Rob Mabry.

Chris Dempster wanted to see more kids come out for his high school rugby team so he did something about it, he went on recruiting blitzes before every season. And the effort paid off for his team. He also did something that most high school players wouldn't think of doing. He became a certified rugby refree. When he's not a scrumhalf on the pitch he's a Sea Scout on an 85' ship in California waters... Read more about Chris Dempster.

Talia Carrasquillo has always liked contact sports. She started kick boxing when she was just six years old. It only seemd natural for her to gravitate to rugby when she got to high school. She has enjoyed success with both her high school and All-Star teams, and individual success in the sport. She has had two looks with the USA U20s Women's team and when she's not on the pitch you can usually find her in the gym, where she works out three times a day...  Read more about Talia Carrasquillo.

Chris Mattina has enjoyed much success as a member of the Xavier High School rugby team. His freshmen team finished 15-0 and the last three years on the varisty team saw Xavier finish 3rd, 1st and 2nd respectively in the single school U.S. High School National Championships. Chris is following his dad's footsteps in rugby. See what profession he wants to follow his mom in...  Read more about Chris Mattina.

The USRFF would like to congratulate its 2011 recipients of the Kevin Higgins College Scholarships and thank all those who applied.

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