In last week’s game against Dallas, Life University looked to score a try using their lineout.
Lock Chris Headlee and his big head of hair was sent high to take the ball, which he claimed cleanly, and Headlee then set up the maul. The Life forwards slipped a little, and it looked like the entire operation was going to fall down. Headlee, though, grabbed his teammates, kept the maul upright, and from there Life scored a try.
That’s Headlee in a nutshell, and the Montana native is quietly leading the Running Eagles through gutsy, unselfish play.
“I’ve always been a grinder,” said Headlee. “Get around the field, do the dirty work. Get you head in the rucks and make plays on defense. In the maul like that, if you’re the guy who gets the ball you’re facing backwards and looking at everyone else set it up, so it’s your job to make sure everyone is together. That’s all I did.”
Headlee started playing rugby in Montana when he was 22, and was recruited by a friend to go to Life and play rugby. He has slowly become one of the most respected players in the Super League. And in doing that he has helped Life to its status as one of the most respected clubs in the league.
“I think we go into every game feeling confident,” Headlee said of the 4-1 Running Eagles. “We have made some mistakes, and little errors in all our games. For the most part we’ve been able to scrap our way back. We lost to NYAC because we made mistakes and they are very good at putting points on the board when you do.”
Life Head Coach James Isaacson has not been happy at how his team has been a little risky with possession.
“You have a balance to strike, with being conservative and trying something,” said Headlee. “You do not want to risk something and cause a turnover.”
So on to more serious things – the hair. Headlee has one of the more distinctive hairstyles in the game. He has a big head anyway, and on top of that is a mane of leonine standards.
“I started growing it about two years ago,” Headlee said. “I haven’t cut it since. I guess the plan was to cut it when we won a Super League title. Don’t know if it’s going to end up like that. I am getting my DC [degree] soon, so I guess I will have to do something about it then.”
Until then, the hair stays and helps make Chris Headlee one of the most intimidating presences in the game.