‘A team effort’

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    Coach Curt Trout talks to his team prior to the Indiana middle school rugby state championship. Trout has been nominated to be inducted into the inaugural class of the Rugby Indiana Hall of Fame. Submitted

    Pendleton’s Trout among nominees for Rugby Indiana Hall of Fame

    PENDLETON —The impact of Curt Trout’s teaching and coaching has affected many.

    So much so, he has been nominated for the inaugural class for the Rugby Indiana Hall of Fame.

    Trout is one of 13 nominees the committee will choose from. The inductees will be announced at the Rugby Indiana 30th Anniversary Celebration.

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    The celebration was scheduled for Nov. 14, but was postponed after Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Nov. 11 announcement of new restrictions on gatherings of large groups because of increasing coronavirus cases.

    A new date for the celebration has not been determined.

    Trout began playing rugby when he was a student at Pendleton Heights High School. He played on a team in 1993 that was a combination of players from Pendleton Heights and Morton Memorial high schools.

    The love of the game grew into coaching, and he has developed club programs in Brownsburg, Fishers and now back home in Pendleton.

    “It’s quite humbling,” said Trout, who got a little choked up talking about his nomination. “It’s unbelievable. You don’t start coaching and investing (in the sport, kids) to be a part of the hall of fame or anything like that. So, it’s pretty neat that people recognize hard work. It’s been more hard work than accomplishment, but we’ve been fortunate to have some pretty good accomplishments along the way.

    “I say ‘we’ because I’ve never done it by myself. It’s always been a team effort.”

    Trout, who is an English teacher and also an assistant football coach at Pendleton Heights High School, got the Brownsburg boys and girls programs off the ground. The boys program is now nationally recognized. The Fishers organization has also had recent success.

    When he came back home to Pendleton he wanted to start from the ground up. In 2014 he began a youth flag program. In 2016 the Pendleton Eagles were organized, a second-through fourth-grade flag rugby team.

    There’s now a fifth-and sixth-grade team, a middle school team for both boys and girls, and a recently started high school team for both boys and girls.

    In 2017, the fifth-sixth grade team won the state championship. As middle schoolers in 2019, the group added another state title.
    “I spoke to one of our donors the other day, and I asked them why they were choosing Rugby,” Alishea Hawkins, executive director of Pendleton Youth Rugby League, said, sharing a story of Trout’s impact in the sport. “He said, ‘That’s simple. Curt Trout took my son, and in four years he turned him into an All-American. I’ll donate to any program that man is associated with.’”
    The Pendleton program is one of only two in the state that have teams at all levels, flag (for second- to fourth-graders), elementary (fifth- and sixth-graders), middle school and high school.
    The program Trout initiated has gone from having numbers in the low 20s in 2018 to 70-plus participants in 2019.
    The first high school team was scheduled to begin in 2020, but the season was canceled
    because of COVID-19.
    “(Pendleton is) one of the few programs that has a team for every single grade level, and that was Curt’s vision for our program,” Hawkins said.
    She said when the high school program started in 2019, Trout suggested a Pendleton Heights senior — who had just been cut from the high school basketball team — try rugby.
    “That young man was offered to play in Ireland and got an athletic scholarship offer to play rugby at Thomas More (an NAIA university in Kentucky),” Hawkins said.
    That specific instance is a great example, Hawkins believes, of how Trout has gone the extra mile for the sport.
    “That personal attention, that commitment, that drive, his passion — not just for the game, but for the sportsmanship and for the players and coaches — is just amazing,” she said.