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Since 2015, the Life of Significance Award has been presented during the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship (CRC). This award is given to a player that exemplifies integrity, commitment and respect – values that are deeply woven into the fabric of Penn Mutual’s culture. Since its introduction, stories about rugby players and the contributions they make to their teams and communities have been pouring in, reinforcing the character of people associated with this sport.
David Schroeder of the Naval Academy was the inaugural winner and took home the award for embodying these core values. The Midshipman gave up a free ride to the University of Louisville to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. After serving two tours of duty, including a deployment in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, Schroder attended the Naval Academy and is now commissioned in the United States Navy.
During his time at the Naval Academy, Schroeder spent time mentoring local youth groups at a community church, teaching Sunday school and chaperoning numerous events. According to his coach Mike Flanagan, “David is someone who looks out for the welfare of others and leads them with his actions. He is a competitor on the pitch and in the classroom as well as out in our local community.”
In 2016, Michigan’s David Caputo took home the award. During his sophomore year of high school, Caputo embarked on a campaign to help underprivileged homes acquire more books. By the time the award was presented, Caputo and his family had collected over 6,500 books and donated to a local summer literacy program.
“David is a great team man and a natural leader who brings it when he is on the field,” said Michigan Head Coach Brandon Sparks. “He is remarkably mature for his age and it shows how he conducts himself.”
Jenna Jones became the first female to win the award in 2017. A junior at the Naval Academy, Jones has become a natural leader on and off the pitch. Not only does she serve as the club President for the women’s rugby program, Jones has a history of volunteerism. The Florida Native got involved with her local soup kitchen, Toys for Tots and the Boys and Girls Club at a young age. More recently, she has volunteered with the Maryland Special Olympics and Girls on the Run, a program that inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.
“Her contribution to the Navy Women's Rugby team is significant, but her dedication to the betterment of her community and the Navy is even more substantial. Her integrity and selfless devotion to duty represent the sport of rugby and its rich heritage perfectly, making her the ideal candidate for the Penn Mutual Life of Significance award,” said Commander Marissa McClure, who oversees the women’s rugby program at the Naval Academy.
Time and time again, members throughout the rugby community have demonstrated the importance of character and displayed the values that have defined Penn Mutual since 1847. Be sure to tune in June 2-3 during the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship to learn about the 2018 Penn Mutual Life of Significance Award winner.