Salt Lake City, Utah –– The Highland Rugby Foundation today announced that Highland Rugby will return to its home at Highland High School for the Spring 2013 rugby season.
Mark Numbers, a Class of 1996 Highland High alumnus, has been named as Head Coach. Kory Olsen, a former Highland Rugby and USA U19 player, has been named as an assistant coach. Additional members of the coaching staff will be named prior to the beginning of the 2013 season.
“Highland Rugby is an important part of the Highland community and we look forward to welcoming the team back under the leadership of Coach Numbers,” said Highland Principal, Paul Schulte.
Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Katie Eskelson‐Ieremia said, “as the Athletic Director and a former Highland student, I am very excited to have rugby back at Highland High."
Brody Benson, Head Football Coach at Highland, said “having rugby back at Highland is a real positive development for our school and football program. It gives our student athletes another spring option for athletic and competitive development. I believe Coach Numbers’s approach and style are consistent with the standards we are trying to instill in our young people.”
Former Highland Rugby Head Coach, Larry Gelwix, Sr., said “I am thrilled that Mark will be writing the next chapter of Highland Rugby’s history. I have known Mark for 20 years as a player, friend and coach. He is the right person to lead Highland Rugby forward.”
“I am honored at the opportunity to return to my alma mater and coach the rugby team,” said Numbers. “My experiences at Highland were life shaping and I hope that I and my coaching staff can similarly prepare future generations of Highland Rugby players for the game of life. I look forward to working with the administration, athletic directors and other coaches to make rugby complementary to their pursuits.”
Highland Rugby comes back to Highland as a club sport and will draw its players from among the Highland student body. As youth rugby in the United States continues to shift from national, club‐based competition to state‐based, single‐school competition, Highland Rugby is adopting the single‐school model.
“It has been a rich experience for our program to have drawn players from all across the Salt Lake Valley,” added Numbers. “Life‐long friendships were formed between otherwise bitter rivals. However, the youth game is changing and we are moving to the single‐school model as this transition accelerates.”
Highland Rugby alumnus and current Baltimore Ravens and NFL all‐pro defensive tackle, Haloti Ngata chimed in, as well, about the return of the team.
“I think I speak on behalf of my fellow alumni in saying how excited I am that rugby is back at Highland High. My experiences playing for Highland Rugby were crucial to my development as a football player,” said the NFL star.
Mark Numbers played rugby and football at Highland from 1992‐1996 and was a member of three national championship teams during that time. From 1999‐2003, he played rugby at the University of Utah and was a member of Utah’s 2002 runner‐up national championship team.
From 2004‐2005, he played for the Haggis rugby club and was a member of its 2005 national championship team. From 2004‐2007, Numbers was the head coach of the University of Utah’s men’s rugby team, leading Utah to a runner‐up national championship in 2005.
Kory Olsen, a 2004 graduate of East High School, played rugby for Highland from 2002‐2004 and was a member of Highland’s 2002 and 2003 national championship teams. In 2004, he was named to the United States Under‐19 National Team. From 2004‐2005, Kory played rugby for the University of Utah and was a member of its 2005 runner‐up national championship team. In 2006‐2007, he played with the Kudu Select Side in California and in 2007 for the Takapuna and North Harbour Colts Under‐21 clubs in New Zealand.
About Highland Rugby
Highland Rugby was founded in 1976 and has achieved an all‐time win‐loss record of 418‐10, winning 20 of the 27 national championships contested since 1985. In 1998, it competed in the first World School Boys Championship in Harare, Zimbabwe. It was the only team from the Western Hemisphere to qualify for the tournament and finished third. Highland Rugby has competed all across the United States and in many countries throughout the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Tonga and Zimbabwe. The club’s objective is to develop world‐class athletes and compete at the highest level while also developing world‐class young people capable of high achievement throughout their lives. Mark Numbers is only the second head coach in the team’s history.
About Highland High School
Highland High School, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, opened in 1956 and has a student body of approximately 1,600. Highland High School exists to ensure that all students learn essential skills to become successful adults. These skills encompass academic, social, emotional and career proficiencies. At Highland High, educators work interdependently to improve their professional practice through analyzing student performance, aligning curriculum, and engaging in quality professional development. Exceptional instruction is complemented with timely interventions to ensure that all students learn. Highland High School exists as an affirmation that student success is the only option.