Rugby Profile: Levi Penter
Levi Penter never pictured himself as a rugby player. When Penter, a Central Oregon Community College student, first came to COCC as a freshman, he was a “6’1, 160 pound twig” with plans to eventually run cross country for Concordia University. Rugby was the farthest thing from his mind until a fellow classmate invited him to a rugby practice that would change his athletic career.
“I was supposed to go to cross country practice that day, “ Penter recalled. “I remember going to [rugby] and seeing [Coach] Woody. He walked up to me, grabbed my arm, and said ‘You could gain some weight,’ and then just walked away … By the end of practice, I was hooked.”
Penter traded in his cross country shoes for rugby cleats and started as the Bobcats’ wing. Wings are offensive positions whose primary focus is to run up the field and score “tries”– the rugby equivalent of “touchdowns” in football. His speed and endurance from his experience with running cross country proved to become an asset for the Bobcats’ rugby team. With Coach Bennett’s training techniques and Penter’s unconventional workout regimen of doing manual labor on his family’s farm, his body grew, and worked his way up the roster to become the Bobcats’ scrum-half, the position he currently plays.
“I am like the quarterback in football,” Penter explained. “I am the connecting point between the forwards and backs.”
Like quarterbacks in football, scrum-halfs are not only seen as strong athletes, but leaders in their sport. This level of responsibility gains a player exposure not only on the field, but off as well.
Recently, Penter was invited to try out for the USA Sevens, a premiership rugby league team based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. Premiership rugby is the highest level an athlete can play in the United States. Similar to the professional football league in the United States, athletes are usually invited to attend try-outs after attracting the attention of specific members of a team’s organization.
Being a good rugby player begins with being a “well-rounded” player, according to Bobcat rugby coach, Woody Bennett.
“[A good player has] to have a knowledge of the game, while being fit and conditioned to keep the pace of the game… Especially in sevens. The game is really fast-paced because you only have seven players as opposed to 15 like we do here, so you gotta have players who have speed as well,” Bennett explained.
In his two-year rugby career at COCC, Penter has proven himself to be a player who could be premiership quality.
“[Penter] is a player who always looks to improve,” Bennett said. “He is mentally and physically tough. He works hard on improving his skills and expects others to do likewise.”
Penter will travel to try-out for the USA Sevens in Las Vegas in Jan. 2015. As Jan. approaches, Penter maintains a positive attitude towards the possibility of playing at a premiership level.
“Most people hit their prime from 24 to 28,” Penter explained. “I’m 20, so I have four years, but I’m very happy where things have gone because of my training [at COCC].”
Emily Kalei | The Broadside