The Rye Lions Club, in association with the Rye High Athletic Department, has chosen the first-ever rugby player as Rye High Athlete of the Month. Senior Captain Dan Dalton has led the Garnets to the No. 11 ranking in the country from his position at fly half.
Here’s what Head Coach Jim O’Hara has to say about his star: “I couldn’t be prouder. We have had an historic season so far, and Dan has led us every step of the way to our highest ranking since our founding in 2015, while playing the toughest schedule we’ve ever had.”
In the month of March alone, Rye faced two top-10 teams in the country, six days apart: Xavier High School of NYC and Greenwich High School who are often nationally ranked, as well as the Tennessee State Champs, Raptor Rugby.
They had big wins over Fairfield Prep, St. Anthony’s, Harvey, and Fordham Prep. And, on April 19, they played in Rye High’s first international home match, against St. Andrew’s of South Africa.
“Dan scored our only try against this world-renowned team, all on his own on a solo run,” said Coach O’Hara. “As our kicker, he also made the conversion kick to make him the only player in our history to score in an international match.”
Over Memorial Day weekend, Rye Rugby was invited to the National High School Boys Rugby Tournament in Elkhart, Indiana. While they lost to three powerhouse teams, they fought hard. And later this month they are headed to the State Championships in Albany.
The team will be looking to Dalton, whom the coach says “has already solidified himself as one of our most decorated captains because of his achievements and leadership. Dan is calm under pressure and nothing but supportive of his teammates.”
Coach O’Hara went on, “Dan is the perfect young man to be our first-ever Athlete
of the Month. He embodies all of the unique qualities of our international game — grit, respect, and the camaraderie that comes with meeting others from diverse backgrounds through the sport of rugby. He is soft-spoken and polite off the pitch, and graceful and composed on it. He is the perfect ambassador for our team, our sport, and our school.”
It’s worth noting that Dan’s heritage is a perfect blend for this international game: his mother is from New Zealand, his father from Canada, and they met in England. Dan said, “Our family would spend summers in New Zealand from the time I was a toddler, and I guess I picked up the game from my uncles. One of the big things they taught me is the need for the fly half — my position — to communicate with his teammates on the field. From my vantage point, I can look over the field and see where the other team’s players are positioned.”
In the classroom, Dan has taken several Advanced Placement classes, including U.S. History, Government and Politics, Psychology, Biology, and Literature and Composition. He plans to study Engineering in the fall at McGill University in Montreal. He’s already using his month of internship to learn Project Management at Halmar Engineering.
This summer, Dan will work as a chef at American Yacht Club, as he’s done for the past three years. During that time, he has also been a camp counselor and taught kids how to swim at Rye Golf Club.
Before committing himself full time to rugby, Dan played soccer and basketball. He began playing for the Old Greenwich-Riverside Community Center before joining the Rye Rugby Youth Program.
Asked who he wanted to thank for this Lions Club honor, he said, “Naturally, my parents. And I have to thank my coaches…they’re the reason we’re ranked so high.”
Winning this monthly honor means Dan will have an invitation to the Lions Club’ year-end luncheon, when Rye’s Athlete of the Year will be announced.