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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Remembering Mark Dombroski

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An Archmere player wears a “with you” shirt (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).

St. Joe’s Prep and Archmere rugby teams pay tribute to player

As the game clock ticked down to zero, a hawk flew over Sweeney Field as if on cue as three communities – Archmere Academy, St. Joseph’s Preparatory School (The Prep) and St. Joe’s – joined together for the day to honor the life of Mark Dombroski ’21.

Rugby teams from Archmere and The Prep faced off at the university on March 25. The Prep took down Archmere, 52-12, but the score was the last thing on people’s minds.

The two teams came together to honor the life of Archmere graduate and St. Joe’s freshman Dombroski who died while on a rugby tour with his team in Bermuda over spring break.

The Archmere and Prep communities came together to pay tribute to Dombroski just under a week after he was found dead  from a fall on March 19. The day started with a mass, where both teams and their families were welcomed, followed by a prayer on Sweeney Field. Hawks’ rugby head coach Dan Yarusso spoke on Sweeney about how the tributes should not end here and the community should continue to honor Dombroski’s legacy for years to come.

Archmere was scheduled to play the Prep prior to this week, but after Dombroski’s death, the teams decided to have their match on campus. Campus Ministry was instrumental in organizing the event along with the Hawks’ rugby team.

As chaplain to the Athletic Department, William Rickle, S.J. was involved in planning the tribute with Archmere and The Prep.

“It’s another expression of solidarity,” Rickle said. “A good number of our students are Archmere and St. Joe’s Prep graduates.”

Because Dombroski only graduated from Archmere in 2017, he played rugby with the majority of the players on the field. Archmere wore black armbands with his initials, MD.

Before the game, The Prep presented Archmere with T-shirts that have Dombroski’s number, 15, and both teams’ logos that read “with you.” According to Prep senior  and rugby captain Brendan Heffernan, the gesture was one of respect.

“Such a tragedy happened so close to our game, within a week’s notice,” Heffernan said. “One of our coaches thought it was a good idea to make the shirts with Mark’s initials.”

The Prep is no stranger to tragedy, as the school had two students pass away in the past four years.

“The rugby community is pretty wide, and we try to stick together,” Heffernan said.

Despite the cold weather, there was a large turnout to honor Dombroski. The Hawks’ rugby team was in attendance, including sophomore Tanner McIlrath, who graduated from Archmere in 2016. He played rugby with Dombroski in high school and college.

“It was great that everyone from Archmere got to come out,” McIlrath said. “It’s more than just St. Joe’s and Archmere because the whole Prep came and a lot of parents from the team.”

The Prep beat Archmere by 40 points, but the teams joined together after the game for a reception with the Hawks’ rugby team and the St. Joe’s community. The game was a salute to Dombroski’s life with the game he loved.

Assistant director of campus recreation Angie Nagle had a hand in planning the day, and she recognized the impact it made.

“Having Archmere, St. Joe’s Prep and St. Joe’s rugby, along with parents and alumni and just the general St. Joe’s community [was important],” Nagle said. “I think today was a day about a tribute to Mark and the legacy he leaves.”

Freshman Ryan O’Neil stands with an Archmere player (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).
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