The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

May 27, 2013

College rugby: Valley native Mathias part of Penn State juggernaut

Penn State women won fourth title in five seasons

(Continued)

Yet, Mathias still makes the trips to Happy Valley. The dedication, Steinberg said, is not for the next championship, but for the players that pass through the team.

"He sees rugby...[as] a great way to develop people, and that's the primary reason that we're doing what we're doing," said Steinberg, who is also head coach of the USA Rugby's women's national team.

That developing occurs away from the game, too.

Mathias meets with certain players and acts as a one-on-one mentor, for more than just rugby strategy.

"That's one of the really important things that I think Jim sees," Steinberg said. "I think that's one of the important things that makes it very difficult for Jim to step away, is the ability to kind of engage with those players one-on-one and not really help them with rugby, but help them with their lives."

All of that, with the help of the rest of the coaching staff and team, has led to a squad whose focus is more on their own performance than championships.

"We actually don't talk much about winning national championships," Steinberg said.

Instead, Mathias sees more importance in the lasting relationships built on the rugby team, which he said can be the defining experience at Penn State for some players.

"The biggest satisfaction I get is just being around a high-performing organization where everybody cares about one another and is really, really part of what I consider a true team," Mathias said.

"If it's only about winning, then if you lose, there's nothing that you gain in the program...I love the experience of winning national championships, but I've also been on the losing side, and I know that it's important for the players to understand what is really valuable in the experience."

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