Fresh off a historic season which saw the 16th ranked Baylor Bears (11-2) reach the USA Rugby D1A Quarterfinals for the first time, the club has announced that Head Coach Mason Hering is adding the role of Director of Rugby to his designation. Hering will remain Head Coach for the 2017-18 season—his third at the helm—but will also focus heavily on building Baylor Rugby into a national powerhouse. Coach Hering will be tasked with working with both the university and the alumni to raise the collective commitment of stakeholders through funding, access to facilities, as well as player and coaching recruitment.
“We have quite a bit of work to do in order to compete with the elite collegiate clubs in the US. Almost all the top teams have some sort of varsity or elevated status, whether it is university driven or comes from a healthy alumni base. Some of these clubs have annual operating budgets well into the six figures which allows for a more professional structured environment that players and coaches are dying to be a part of. We want to build that here at Baylor with the help of a energized alumni base and the university’s support.” Hering stated.
Part of the effort to push the club forward has resulted in Hering adding to his coaching ranks for the upcoming season. Brendon Kozman and Travis Kost are two new coaches headed to Waco this fall and will join Backs Coach Ron VanAmburgh and Forwards Coach Nick Lane who are both returning for their second year at Baylor.
Coach Kozman is transitioning from player to coach after graduating from the University of Wyoming this past spring where he was the team captain and earned All Conference honors his Junior year. An injury plagued senior season opened the door for Kozman to enter the coaching pool as he finished his collegiate career.
Coach Kost comes from the Huntington Beach RFC, a storied men’s club in Southern California, where he was a key contributor as a flyhalf and center for the Unicorns. Kost has coached previously at Valdosta State University Rugby Club where he helped the Blazers achieve success at the NSCRO level.
The staff is rounded out by the addition of Nikki Betlazar who will lead the team’s strength and conditioning program. Coach Betlazar joined the Bears late last season and is currently finishing up her degree in Health, Kinesiology, and Leisure Studies at Baylor. Betlazar is ready to have the full season to implement gym and field sessions designed to build high performing rugby athletes.
One final piece to the coaching staff is the creation of a coaching advisory group that will periodically run training sessions alongside the Baylor staff. The group will start with three former alumni who have all had high level coaching experience in Texas. Coach Blake Rodgers, who was recently named Head Coach of the Dallas Harlequins, is eager to help shape the Bears attack. Coach Brian Dusablon of the Woodlands Rugby Club will assist with the development of rugby skills. Coach Roberto Hansen returns to Waco where he once served as an assistant coach and will focus on shoring up the set piece.
Regarding his new staff, Coach Hering had this to say: “Any time you can add a quality coach to the program you get excited; but to add a full complement of coaches each specializing in different disciplines it can really accelerate your team’s development. I’m really confident that this staff in conjunction with our advisory group will be able to rapidly enhance the skillset and rugby IQ of each player in the program. Building a solid coaching staff who share the same vision and passion for the future has added another element of professionalism to our program.”
The Bears will kick off their 2017-18 campaign, the 25th anniversary of the club, with a friendly match against Texas State Sept 23nd in Waco. Click here to view the full 2017-18 schedule.