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A perfect try to life: Cole Zarcone

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A perfect try to life: Cole Zarcone

Dez Rodriguez, Assistant Sports Editor

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Senior Cole Zarcone has been hitting the pitch hard for the Wildcats this season. The former walk-on-turned-co-captain initially joined CWU to play football, but made the decision to switch to rugby at the conclusion of his freshman year.

“The experience I was having wasn’t really what I was looking for,” Zarcone said. “It’s a great program with great coaches, but I loved playing both defense and offense which rugby allows me to do each game.”

 

Zarcone’s Early Career

Zarcone played football and ran track at Camas High School in Camas, WA. He decided to walk on for football his freshman year at CWU and ultimately made the team. After playing the season out and finishing the year, he decided football just wasn’t for him anymore. It was time for something new.

His brother, Austin Colvill, had previously made the switch from football to rugby at Western Washington University after they dropped their football program in 2009. Zarcone had an idea of what rugby was like because of this , which is one of the reasons why he maintained an interest in the new sport going to college.

Zarcone got in touch with a college friend whose dad was a rugby coach near Camas. He returned home that summer and learned the basics of rugby. After getting more comfortable catching and passing, Zarcone tried his luck playing in seven on seven tournaments. The similarities between football and rugby allowed for the transition to be smoother, so he picked up the concept of the game rather quickly. The experience he got in that short amount of time would wind up setting up his future collegiate athletic career.

 

Making the switch

CWU men’s rugby head coach, Todd Thornley, stumbled across Zarcone’s request to try out for the rugby team at the beginning of his sophomore year in 2016. Thornley reviewed his highlight video of his sevens action and was very pleased with what he saw. He asked staff about Zarcone’s academics, and the football coaches about what kind of person he was like. It all checked out positively according to Thornley.

“His footwork and change of direction and speed really stood out,” Thornley said. “You can tell he’s a really balanced athlete when he runs.”

Zarcone’s first game for CWU was against the Vancouver Rowing Club in Vancouver, BC. He admitted that his nerves got the best of him with the new experience, but continuing to learn how to play kept him excited for the rest of the season.

“It was a lot to take in. It was definitely a fast paced game that I wasn’t really ready for,” Zarcone said. “Todd put me in the situations so that I can grow really fast, so I was able to catch on really quick because of that.”

The natural talent caught up quickly, as he remained a starter in just his second year of learning a completely new sport. The best thing he’ll remember about rugby is the opportunity he got to play on a roster filled with international players every year. Zarcone loves the brotherhood and culture around the locker room and on the field that the international players bring with them.

“They add such a fun dynamic to the team, it’s fun to learn from all of them,” Zarcone said. “When we go on roadtrips, it’s exciting for them to travel the country. We get to show them a lot of stuff and they get to teach us stuff about how it is for them back home.”

 

Co-captain

 

Zarcone was voted as co-captain by his teammates this season alongside Alex Mackenzie. He is tasked with keeping the team on track at practice and/or in games, while answering any questions that teammates might have. In the end, he wants to be someone that the team can look up to if they need anything when times get tough, even after the season ends.

“Really I just try to lead by example. It’s nice to be someone that they can look to for advice and to follow,” Zarcone said. “It’s nice that Alex and I can be another leading voice instead of Todd tripping at the team the whole time.”

At the beginning of last season, the team played in a west coast sevens tournament in San Francisco on Treasure Island. They beat the University of Arizona in the championship game, 17-15, which ended up being the biggest tournament win in CWU’s rugby history. Zarcone was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament, scoring 10 tries in their 6 matches.

“He’s not afraid to get on the guys if the effort or intensity isn’t there,” Thornley said. “He’s not going to talk for the sake of talking, he picks his moments really really well.”

At the conclusion of last season, Zarcone capped his year by earning the Men’s Sevens Collegiate All-American D1 Honorable Mention. The progression set him up nicely entering his senior year at CWU.

“He is probably our best all-around athlete in terms of strength and conditioning wise,” Thornley said. “He’s constantly adding things to his game. It’s really all credit to him.”

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