Northeast Passage providing athletic opportunity

Bret Belden

On Saturday, April 15, the Northeast Passage quad rugby team held their weekly practice at the Hamel Recreation Center at the University of New Hampshire. The practice was a highflying back and forth scrimmage between teammates upstairs on the upper basketball courts.

Northeast Passage is a non-profit organization that gives individuals with disabilities the chance to participate and compete in competitive and recreational sports.

It was founded in 1990, and in March 2000, they partnered with the University of New Hampshire as the service branch of the Recreation Management and Policy Department within the College of Health and Human Services.

Northeast Passage provides competitive sports that include traveling across the East Coast and participating in tournaments; they also provide recreational sports for veterans and kids in school with disabilities.

The quad rugby team is coached by Nate Loomis who has taken over for former coach Chandler Bullard.  Coach Loomis touched on what it is Northeast Passage does and what their goals are.

“We do all sorts of therapy recreation and adaptive sports recreation, what that means is anyone with any sort of disability we try and get them out and active and doing fun things, whether that’s sports or enjoying the outdoors,” Loomis said.

Loomis also talked about how Northeast Passage offers both recreational and competitive sports, his rugby teams along with sled hockey and power soccer are the competitive teams provided.

The competitive teams, such as the quad rugby team, compete against other teams all across the East coast.

“We definitely travel a lot, the rugby team season goes from September to April and we travel roughly once a month for tournaments, including everywhere from Florida to Canada,” Loomis said.

The Northeast Passage Quad Rugby team consists of players from around the Northeast along with players from UNH. 

Fourth year player Robert Dudzisz was asked to come play for the team by former coach Chandler Bullard and has loved playing Quad Rugby from the start.

“I was living at Spalding and during a rec therapy day Northeast Passage came down and the coach at the time [Bullard] told me to come out and play and I came out a year later once I was recovered enough and fell in love with the sport,” Dudzisz said.

The Quad Rugby team had an outstanding season this year. They made playoffs for the first time in team history, finishing third in regionals at the University of New Hampshire and moved on to sectionals in Washington D.C. where their season ultimately ended.

Despite the loss in sectionals, Dudzisz is very excited for the future of the team after having one of their best seasons this past year

“This year was a really great year for us, we’re really coming together. We’re looking to come back next year and hopefully we can advance further and move out West,” Dudzisz said.

Look for the Northeast Passage Quad Rugby team to continue to improve and make tremendous strides as Northeast Passage continues to grow as an organization.