Rugby Olympians Put to Work for Good Cause

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On August 22, 2018, Penn Mutual hosted the first ever Penn Mutual Rugby Run with the proceeds benefitting the Travis Manion Foundation. In keeping with the company’s commitment to rugby and professional development, and USA Rugby’s push to give its athletes a foundation for life after rugby, USA Olympic Rugby stars Alev Kelter and Ben Pinkelman organized the event as part of an internship program with Penn Mutual.

Alev Kelter and Ben Pinkelman at the 2018 Penn Mutual Rugby Run

For nearly the entirety of their adult lives, both athletes have been professional rugby players. They have never held a traditional nine to five job, and were interested in getting some real world experience. The opportunity to organize a 5k from scratch, that benefitted a good cause, appealed to both athletes.

“I jumped at the opportunity to an internship that involved giving back to a local charity. So many members of the rugby community do extraordinary things to help make the world a better place and I wanted to continue that legacy,” Kelter said when being presented with the opportunity.

While these athletes may not follow a traditional career path, the skills they have learned from rugby helped guide them along the process. Teamwork, which is essential for athletes, translated well for the duo on this project.

“We divided the work based on our strengths. I took the logistical tasks of event planning thanks to my background and degree in criminal justice and Alev, who got her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts, took care of the creative assets,” said Pinkelman.

“I had to work with many different stakeholders at Penn Mutual,” Kelter added. “The graphics team, the social media team and the sponsorship team all had to contribute to the project and now I see how important teamwork is in the work place.”

The tandem worked together on the project for roughly six months, simultaneously navigating through a busy HSBC World Series circuit and the Rugby World Cup. For weeks at a time, both athletes were abroad in places like Singapore, London, Paris and then spending weeks preparing for the World Cup in San Francisco. Through that time, both athletes saw the importance of time management.

“With our busy schedules, I really learned to prioritize my time and tasks to ensure all the work was completed. There are so many little details I did not realize that went into event planning and allocating the time and resources to accomplish everything was critical to success,” Pinkelman said.

Overall, both individuals believe this project helped prepare them for life after rugby. Getting some real world work experience was critical to creating that foundation for success.

“I have been a professional athlete my entire adult life. I have never held a “real” job and this internship gave me some experience to take with me after my playing days are over,” Pinkelman said.

“I learned a lot about myself,” Kelter added. “I learned what I like to do but more importantly I learned what I do not like to do. I will take this internship opportunity as a great learning experience as I go forward with my professional career.”

During the week leading up to the event, both athletes came and took part in all the preparation for the event and received some financial education at the Penn Mutual office.

“I had a tremendous time working the event and I’m so glad Penn Mutual took the time to teach me about the value of life insurance,” Pinkelman said. “I learned a lot, and while I’m still not positive what a dividend is, it was a great foundation and made me eager to learn more.”

“Spending time at the Penn Mutual home office was a great experience. I got to see the event to completion and was able to get some insight into their business, the importance of working with a financial adviser and the business reasons behind the successful rugby sponsorship,” Kelter concluded.

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