The 4th Annual Jack Riekena Memorial 7’s Tournament for Suicide Awareness was held yesterday in Missoula, Montana at the Washington Grizzly Stadium on the University of Montana campus. This annual event was started by the Riekena family to help families across the state be able to recognize the signs of suicide and promote suicide awareness. The tournament is organized as a High School Senior project and was run this year by Jake Riekena and Brady Clawson, Big Sky High School students and rugby players for the Missoula Mud Dogs. Approximately 45 local community businesses and organizations helped sponsor the event this year. Additionally, Atavus Rugby and Olympic Rugby 7’s Player Shalom Suniula donated an autographed jersey to the event to help with fundraising.
This year the boys chose to team up with Project Tomorrow Montana a local program dedicated to suicide prevention and education. Follow this link to find out more information on Project Tomorrow Montana and make sure to share their contact information for anyone who may need someone to talk to about thoughts of suicide. Together we can all make a difference.
Seventeen (17) teams made the trek to Missoula with players from Washington, Idaho, and all across the state of Montana. Divisions of play consisted of Middle School (Grades 6-8), High School Girls, and High School Boys (A & B Division). Some players were veterans to the tournament while other players and teams were experiencing their first game of the year. The great part of rugby is that several of the teams yesterday had a mixture of players from other teams jump in and help fill out numbers. The culture we promote was on display in great form as opponents became teammates and helped each other out even if it meant playing against their “regular” team in the process. The report from all at the end of the event was one of sportsmanship and community. New friends were made and old friendships rekindled both on and off the pitch.
Event organizers, University of Montana Athletic Trainers, and the University of Montana event staff helped provide a well organized program. The Montana Rugby Referee Society referees were patient with all the new players and provided guidance to both players on the field and parents and spectators in the stands helping all understand the game and promote a safe and competitive environment. While not all teams could be named tournament champions at the end of the day, all participants played hard and had a great day of rugby, learning, and community!