New Orleans Gold – Alex Czajkowski
New Orleans Gold Rugby Club has signed Alex Czajkowski for the inaugural Major League Rugby season. Alex was born and raised in Chesterfield, Virginia is 32 years old (33 in another month) and is an imposing figure at 6’5″ and 280 pounds. He comes to the team having played rugby for the Richmond Rugby Club. He is an Army veteran and a family man.
It would be difficult to discuss Alex without talking about the importance of his family. His parents Al and Alice had three children. He is a middle child and has an older sister Lauren and a younger brother Erik.
Growing up, playing basketball was a passion. He played from 4 years old to a senior in high school. He went to Manchester High School in Midlothian, VA and graduated class of 2003.
After graduation and reflecting on the impact of 9/11, he wanted to get involved and serve his country. He joined the Army was active duty from 2003 to 2009 and was stationed in Korea and Hawaii for three years at each location. While in the Army, he tried out for and made the US Army Select 15s and played from 2004-2007.
After being honorably discharged from the US Army, he came home to Virginia to be close to family and worked as a personal trainer and fitness director. He joined James River Rugby Club and played from 2011-2013. He then joined a higher division team, the Richmond Lions, to compete at a higher rugby level and has played with them from the spring of 2014 to present. While at Richmond, he was nominated as captain and led them to the MAC Championship. He was also voted 2016 MAC rugby player of the year.
Alex also plays for the Capital Selects and has played in every match since its inception. After the first match against USA Rugby South, he was invited to play with them in the Savannah rugby tournament. Based on his performance, he played with the USA Rugby South Panthers against the Cayman Island National Team and against Life University.
After that this past spring, he was contracted to play in New Zealand with Burnside Rugby, which is part of the Canterbury Metro Division 1, where he played from May through August 2017. He started every match at lock, even scoring a try on debut. He then returns home and caught the attention of New Orleans Gold.
Wife, Katelyn’s Influence
“Most importantly my wife’s name is Katelyn Czajkowski and I have a 6-month-old daughter named Wyatt.”
Alex has had to make many adjustments with relocated through his military service. He met his wife, Katelyn, after he returned home from the military. She was working in a family business that his mother and sister operate, the J’Adore Dance
in Midlothian, VA.
Katelyn was pregnant when Alex signed to play rugby for Burnside in New Zealand. Then reality hit when their daughter Wyatt was born on May 11th and his flight to New Zealand was scheduled for May 22. He had second thoughts about leaving, but his wife wanted him to go and to pursue his dream.
She convinced him that she had a support system with both sets of parents within a short distance from their home and persuaded him to go.
Playing rugby with New Orleans Gold also requires that strong determination that playing professional rugby often has families at different locations. New Orleans Gold has recognized this and during bye weeks will be an opportunity to reconnect, as well as for occasional long weekends.
While not ideal, technology today provides a means to communicate regularly with those who are prominent in their hearts and minds.
Alex Czajkowski: “I guess you could say I had a much more difficult road to get where I am. I didn’t play college rugby, I wasn’t noticed at a young age. And I’ve literally had to claw and climb my way into success in this sport. Doing everything on my own, long days and nights in the gym and on the pitch, always pushing myself to be better.” “And at 6’5” 280 lbs haha I bring some pain.”
“And the one comment I would have about playing professionally is, don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something. I’ve been told countless times to give it up, move on, and I’ve continued to work. Work my ass off, and it’s gotten me places I’d never thought I’d be. I’m very proud and excited to meet the Nola Gold family, and show them what a force and asset I can be on the pitch.”
Matthew Robinette, Richmond Lions Head Coach: “Alex was a critical piece on a team that competed for the Mid Atlantic Championship in 2015. Alex has several strengths as a rugby player – obviously his size, strength, speed. His versatility – he can play any position in the forwards and his rugby IQ. Alex benefited from high-performance coaches with the Capital Selects. Head Coach Chris Porter and assistant coaches Jeremy Fraine and Chuck Moore took Alex’s game to the next level. The Capital Select program gave Alex (and other players) the platform to showcase his talent, growth, and commitment to professional leagues around the globe. Everyone in Richmond, Virginia is really proud to call Alex our own and wish him the best of luck with the NOLA Gold!”
Chris Porter, Capital Rugby Union Selects Head Coach: “Once Alex adjusts to the speed and physicality of the professional game, he could have a physical impact in matches.”
Rene Daniel, USA Rugby South Head Coach: “Alex is a physical specimen that any rugby coach would love to have on his team. His best quality is he is focused on success, he is coachable, and in every way a team player.”
“With Alex coming back from New Zealand, we are expecting big things from him. We haven’t seen him play since his return, however other players that I have seen return that have spent the same amount of time in New Zealand, are showing some great things on the defensive side of the ball.”
“Quickness to the feet and positioning is something I expect of Alex to have improved along with a different level of decision making offensviely that he would not have gotten from the U.S. game.”
“We are looking forward to seeing his return for our December match up vs. the Capital Union.”
New Orleans Gold Rugby
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