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McCarthy, Ardizzone bring Xavier High School friendship to Syracuse club rugby

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 15, 2014 at 12:08 am When freshman left wing Eddie McCarthy scored the first try of his Syracuse rugby career against Brockport on Oct. 11, teammate and roommate Steve Ardizzone seemed to cheer a bit louder than the rest of the Hammerheads on the SU sideline.And it’s only natural that Ardizzone’s a little more invested in McCarthy’s first score.Since their first steps on a rugby field at Xavier (New York) High School, freshmen McCarthy and Ardizzone have built a friendship that has only grown stronger as they have bonded through rugby, high school and even a natural disaster.Now rooming together at SU, the two friends and teammates are transitioning into college with the added difficulty of taking Syracuse Hammerheads rugby (2-2) to the next level in the Empire Rugby Conference.“Steve and Eddie were part of a graduating class that was a very tight group,” said Mike Petri, an assistant at Xavier and a player on the USA national team, in an email. “They had experienced a lot together during their time at Xavier and it was clear they all had developed a very strong bond.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textXavier High School, a Jesuit school located in New York City’s Chelsea section of Manhattan, has won 20 state championships and four national championships in the program’s 40-year history, and has long been a breeding ground for professional rugby athletes.Former head coach Mike Tolkin, who helped Ardizzone and McCarthy win two state championships in their time at Xavier, now is the head coach of the USA Eagles national rugby team.“Character is the cornerstone of our program,” Petri said. “Our goal is not necessarily to always develop elite caliber rugby players but rather to also ensure we are teaching the players how to be leaders and how to be accountable for their actions.”Neither Ardizzone nor McCarthy had played the sport before attending Xavier. But despite their lack of rugby knowledge, both soon fell in love and were named varsity starters by their senior seasons.“For me it was very demanding, but I couldn’t imagine my time and my high school career without it,” McCarthy said. “In the offseason I felt like something was missing. You grow to become like family with the players next to you.”While the two were not initially close going into their first seasons, this soon changed as they connected over long trips that took them to places such as Maryland and Scotland.That bond was soon made even stronger when Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeastern United States in October 2012. With the McCarthy family left without a home and crammed into a small room in a family member’s home, Eddie often found himself escaping to friends’ houses to get away from the cramped living conditions.One of these friends was Ardizzone, who let McCarthy spend many nights during the long recovery process.“Hurricane Sandy was a very drastic time for anyone in Breezy (Point),” Ardizzone said, referring to the Queens, New York neighborhood that McCarthy is from. “I knew that Eddie got taken away from his home so I immediately went up to him and asked him how he was and said, ‘You’re more than welcome to stay at my house and we’ll feed you and we’ll treat you like you’re one of our own.’”Both got advice from coaches to go to programs like Penn State, Iona and others, but they decided on Syracuse. Though they both wanted to meet new people, they also wanted to live with a roommate that they knew they could be comfortable with.Now the two do nearly everything together, from eating meals to working out to helping each other with their classwork.With McCarthy and Ardizzone now making regular appearances in the starting lineup for the rugby team, the two Xavier alumni look to have their presence felt in the final stretch of the season.“I definitely wanted to play for a team that was a D-I program where I knew that me and Eddie could come and develop and give them our skills and what we learned from Xavier,” Ardizzone said. “Hopefully we help the team play against the best teams out there.” Commentslast_img read more