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article imageMeet Oliver Engelhart of the New England Free Jacks rugby team Special

By Markos Papadatos     Apr 24, 2020 in Sports
Oliver Engelhart chatted with Digital Journal about being a part of the New England Free Jacks as part of North America's premier professional rugby league.
"It's a huge privilege to be a part of the Free Jacks," he said. "As a player, I have been challenged and pushed to grow into the professional environment and have seen incredible improvements as an athlete with the growth of the game and the team. In addition, having the opportunity to work on the business side of the organization and work to create a professional organization in Boston and New England is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and with the ability to do both it is a unique and fortunate opportunity that I certainly am not taking for granted."
He is drawn to the Free Jacks since they embody so much what he loves in the sport. "Rugby brings people from all over the world, all walks of life, and all backgrounds together to build a new team, a new community here in New England. Our players come from 11 countries around the world. Our fans are from all over the region, nation and the world, some of whom played years ago, are still playing, and others are watching a game for the first time."
He shared that "MLR virtual was a great way to engage the fans that were looking forward to seeing the matches this spring but were not able to due to the cancellation of the season." "It brought players together for a unique look into the competitive spirit but also drew the momentum towards a good cause in the support of Feeding America. All in all, it was really just some good rugby fun in the virtual realm," he said.
Regarding his daily motivations, he said, "One thing I learned from a long time mentor of mine, and now the Free Jacks CEO, Alex Magleby, is 'control the controllable.' For me, this means getting up every day and working on the small challenges that better myself, others, the community, or my work. Focusing on the things we can impact and change. As an athlete, this really means focusing on how you prepare and how you as an individual can help your team prepare."
On being a rugby player in the digital age, he said, "Like everything rugby has to adapt to meet the new opportunities and challenges of the digital age. We have to use the platforms to promote excitement, build the community, and drive energy around things that matter. For me, personally, the digital platforms are about connecting to friends and family. I grew up in Hong Kong but have friends all over the world so use social media primarily for keeping in touch with them."
"From the Free Jacks, we look at social media as one of the primary avenues to build our brand and use it to shape how fans see the team. We try to be authentic and show the fun and personalities of the players, the sport, the events that we have. By doing that we can create a community of people that engage with one another through the Free Jacks and that is the ultimate goal - to bring people together to enjoy the game of rugby," he explained.
For young and aspiring rugby players, he said, "Rugby is a game for everyone and there is now a target for young players to shoot towards. The next Free Jacks are the kids that are taking part in skills clinics, camps, sessions and you have the best opportunity than anyone to continue playing the game at the highest level because it has come so far in the last few years. You will get out of it what you put in."
Engelhart defined the word success as controlling what you can control. "Success is knowing that you did everything you can to prepare, execute, and thrive in the environment that you are in. Sometimes unexpected things happen but success is coming through that with a smile on your face because you did you and did it to the best of your ability," he said.
For rugby fans and supporters, Engelhart expressed his gratitude. "Thank you. From all of us at the Free Jacks, we could not have built the community that exists today without the excitement and energy from the fans and supporters every day. Your support will carry us into the next Inaugural season in 2021," he exclaimed.
To learn more about the New England Free Jacks, check out their official website and Facebook page.
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