The Happy Side of a President’s Job—Thanks Ruggers!

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The Happy Side of a President’s Job—Thanks Ruggers!


Photo: Marc Williams

I am often asked, “What does a President do?”  One of the important part of a president’s job is to communicate with alumni and friends of the institution.  (This blog is a small part of that function.)

While I am confident that we by and large have very happy and satisfied parents and alumni, it is true that the majority of our communications from alumni and friends occurs when they are unhappy.  That is part of human nature.

But occasionally, someone will take the time to write when they are happy or pleasantly surprised by something we have done.  Theses communications are especially gratifying when they come from someone who is new to our community or knows little about us.  The following came from the Director of Stadium Operations at a venue where the recent Small College Rugby Football Championships were held.  Saint John’s University won its second consecutive national championship, which was great, but the email below was at least as gratifying:

First, congratulations on winning your second National Championship title!

I want to thank you, and your entire team, for simply being awesome.  I am always impressed with the etiquette and class your boys display when they are here.  Yours is the only college team to have shown up with their khakis and club shirts on, something that is certainly never a requirement or even an expectation but it speaks volumes for what you are doing in helping shape future generations (truth be told, the only other teams that typically arrive dressed like this are the military teams that play in our summer 7s tournament).

Too, that your guys clean the changing room . . . STILL unheard of with any/every other team that has ever played here (our own team does not even do this)!  I had to giggle when you said that one of the guys said, “Coach, I can’t find a broom.”  This, to me, shows a level of respect for our facility that we rarely, if ever, see.   To top THIS is the fact that your SUPPORTERS always clean the section of the stands in which they sit.  What??  Last year, they asked if we had trash bags for them to use (we told them “you don’t have to do that, we pay people to clean the stands”).  This year, they didn’t even ask for trash bags . . they just cleaned up!  When looking around the stadium at the end of the day on Sunday, the St. John’s section was SPOTLESS (and I mean spotless … someone must have found a broom AND a mop. Ha ha! ), while the remaining sections were littered with trash (which is 100% normal).  Just as teams never clean their changing rooms, fans most certainly do not tidy the area in which they sit.  This is simply unheard of . . whether it is here at Infinity Park or any other arena around the world.  I don’t know what you guys put in the water in Collegeville, but I would love it if you could bottle some up and send my way.

You guys are awesome!  Looking forward to having the team and the supporters back next year for your Three peat!!

This was surely a team effort—great players, attentive and responsible coaches and great parenting.  I’d also like to think that the Benedictine tradition at Saint John’s which emphasizes community and respect for all people played a small role.  Regardless, I offer my congratulations to the Saint John’s Ruggers for their championship and for the classy way they represented the University and themselves.  You do us all proud.

By |May 3rd, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized|5 Comments

About the Author:

Michael Hemesath
Michael Hemesath is the 13th president of Saint John's University. A 1981 SJU graduate, Hemesath is the first layperson appointed to a full presidential term at SJU. You can find him on Twitter [at] PrezHemesath.


  1. Bob Walsh '81 May 5, 2014 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    As a former rugger and parent of one of this year’s champs, I couldn’t be prouder. Credit also goes to the coaches Dan Franklin, Tammy Cowan and Mike McElroy. Class Acts, one and all.

  2. John Brossart 79 May 7, 2014 at 11:25 am - Reply

    As a Johnnie and proud parent of 3 former Johnnie Ruggers, I want to salute Tammy and her coaches for setting the bar high both on and off the field. You have done a wonderful job and are a great credit to SJU.

  3. Tom Gelbmann '69 May 14, 2014 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    Proud to be a Johnnie. Thanks, Ruggers for setting a terrific example.

  4. Tom Sinner 77 May 15, 2014 at 11:37 am - Reply

    To the players and parents who continue a proud tradition: Congratulations! We ‘old boys’ love to see you succeed at all phases of the game before, during and after the first scrum.

  5. John Schnese May 17, 2014 at 4:27 am - Reply

    It’s 4AM, I’m behind on everything, and thought I’d catch up on e-mail. What a TREAT… to read the great news! Really made my day to read about the success of our great Ruggers, and what a sweet bonus to read the letter from the nice guy at Infinity Park. To President Hemesath, “Thanks” for sharing this with all of us. As a proud parent of two former SJU Ruggers, Brian and Kevin, I’m not surprised at all. Tammy and Dan have always set high expectations for our young men. This Championship and the praise sent by others proves that the Johnnie Ruggers always EXCEED expectations. CONGRATS SJU !! Fondly, PaPa Schnaze

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