Jacksonville Axemen Rugby League

Catching Up From Quarantine:

Catching Up From Quarantine:

Kevin Wathen

This would be Kevin Wathen’s 10th season playing for the Jacksonville Axemen if the 2020 season would have gone as planned. So as many of us feel after being shut down the last year, Wathen is ready to make up for lost time in 2021. Now joining an exclusive club of only 3 players to create a decade long legacy playing for the Axemen, expect to see Wathen leading the charge for his 3rd USARL National Championship this summer. He’s been living the simple life on the farm, and is prepping for a comeback season on the field.

  1. How did you spend most of your time last summer without playing rugby league?

“I have not experienced a summer off without rugby league in 8 years so I was unsure of what to do. I usually am off the summer months due to my teaching profession but I have picked up odd end jobs over the years working with Explo at Yale University, Detroit Lions Youth coach, and various other roles working with underprivileged youth. Last summer I decided to expand on our small farm in Hilliard and go back to school. I was able to obtain a certified personal training certificate which helped not only with my own training but helping others achieve their fitness goals. When I finished up with my classes I took a much needed vacation to the Florida Keys, where I met up with several Key West Rugby players and went offshore fishing for a few weeks.”

2. What has helped you stay sane (or drove you nuts) during the pandemic? 

“The thing that has helped be stay sane during the pandemic is where I live. I moved to Hilliard- a small rural area north of Jacksonville about 3 miles from the Georgia state line in 2017. It has been a nice change of pace from the congestion and stressors of the city. My wife and I were able to increase the size of our vegetable garden, plant more fruit trees in our orchard and sit by the bonfires at night while the animals roamed. It’s a huge difference from where we previously lived in Julington Creek.”

3. How have you been training throughout lock-downs and social distancing? 

“I have been strict with my training regimen throughout the pandemic. I had it much easier than the rest because our local recreation center only shut down for a short period of time in the Spring. They were back up and running by the summer and I was able to resume my training. The Hilliard Parks and Recreation Center is also right across the street from my home so I don’t have any excuses to miss a training. I have been playing in the USARL since its inception and I know its imperative to keep my fitness level up to compete for a spot on the USA Hawks squad and continue to bring National Championships to Jacksonville.”

4. Any positive life changes in the past year?

“Life has been good aside all the setbacks of 2020. It allowed a lot of us to spend some quality time with our family and that time is priceless. I was able to travel up to Michigan during Thanksgiving break and see my family up there and my nephew for the first time, he just turned one last month. He received a rugby ball from his Uncle Kevin for his first birthday and is already perfecting his passing (unlike his Uncle).”

Photo: Allene Rachal

5. What do you look forward to most about the upcoming season? 

“It’s always hard coming back for a season in which you lost the National Championship in the season prior (2019 12-6 to the Brooklyn Kings). I really would have liked to avenge that loss in 2020 but COVID threw a wrench into those plans. We collectively as a team have had to stomach that loss for an extra year, so I am looking forward to stepping onto that pitch with some vengeance in mind. I want to start and end the 2021 season on a good note.”