Bobby Craig brings boy’s rugby to Summit County
Bobby Craig, who founded Breckenridge based Arapahoe Architects in 1993, appreciates that the most substantive work is done at a grass-roots level.
“As a business owner you’re involved in everything,” he said. “I’m the type who says I’m going to do it.”
While some people may think high dollar when picturing an architectural firm in Breck, Craig says his focus is not on the top end of the spectrum.
“Any architect can design a $2 million dollar house, but the reality is there are a lot more additions and remodels,” he said.
Admitting to relishing a challenge, Craig is in the midst of designing a backcountry cabin in Summit County for a client with a modest $70,000 budget.
“I have no idea how it’s going to work but I’m not giving up on it,” he said. “It’s different when you have a tight budget, overages can kill a project.”
Outside of his day job, Craig is also working on constructing something of a slightly different nature. The lifelong rugby enthusiast is about to launch a rugby club for high school age boys in Summit County. With signup set for December, the play is slated to begin in the spring. He credits the sport for helping to initially anchor him in the region twenty-five years ago.
Originally from the mid-atlantic, Craig got a sample of the Front Range when he attended Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora. The East Coast lured him back to attend college at the University of Virginia. After graduating in 1985 he spent the next five years working in D.C. before slipping back to Colorado.
“In 1990 I took a sabbatical to go skiing for two months,” he said.
During his Colorado jaunt Craig had occasion to play in the St. Valentine Day Massacre Rugby Tournament. The Gentleman of the Blue Goose Rugby Club hosts the event, which marked its 40th anniversary in 2014.
After members of the Blue Goose squad hipped Craig that they play in a summer league, he figured why leave when the snow melts?
“I came to ski and stayed for rugby,” he quipped.
Craig was a member of the Blue Goose club for about the next ten years as his life evolved and he gradually rooted in the mountains. A year after establishing his architectural firm, he met his wife Carol, a transplant from Buffalo, who shares his love of the Rockies. The pair, who celebrated their 20th anniversary this September, has two children, Conor, 16, and AnnaRose, 13.
His days of feeding the scrum on the rugby field ended in a brutal manner, but also coincided with the birth of his first child.
“Sixteen years ago I broke my face,” he said. “I’ve got three plates in my head around my cheekbone.”
Later that year when his son Conor entered the picture, and the inevitable changing of life priorities that accompanies parenthood occurred, he stepped away from competitive action.
“My wife said ‘I think it’s time to hang up the boots,’” he chuckled.
Of course putting down the gear doesn’t mean you abandon passion, and Craig has remained in close contact with goosemates, even becoming a club sponsor in recent years.
“Once you make friends in rugby you’re friends for life,” he said.
The next generation
Like many passionate about a sport, when eventually relegated to the sidelines, they still appreciate those participating and in some cases strive to impart knowledge. In Craig’s case, his interest in founding the boys rugby club goes beyond the, perhaps obvious, father-son bonding experience, he genuinely wants his country to become a global powerhouse.
“I want the U.S. to be able to compete at the world level,” he said. “The only way we’re going to be competitive is to get the guys playing rugby at least by high school if not earlier.”
Feeling his son was old enough to inherit the boots and noting there wasn’t a boy’s team in Summit County, Craig decided the time was right.
With a wealth of frequent flyer miles from attending multiple rugby tournaments in Hong Kong and New Zealand, Craig has an informed perspective on the sports global scope. He joked that in New Zealand, which captured its second consecutive Rugby World Cup last month, kids start playing the sport at birth.
“There are twenty boys clubs in Denver,” he said. “It’s definitely growing in popularity.”
Craig had investigated starting a springtime boy’s rugby club at Summit High School last year, but had literal grass-root problems.
“You can’t play on the grass in the spring because you’ll turn it to mud,” he said. “In the spring they have boys and girls lacrosse, baseball and track and field all sharing that one field.”
In October 2014 the town of Breckenridge installed artificial turf at Kingdom Park, which opened the door to make his vision a reality. The new rugby club will be open to all high-school-age males.
“There is no prerequisite, just the desire the play rugby,” he said. “Any size, any shape, and speed.”
The new club will partner with the hugely successful female only Summit Rugby, who Craig said has been expecting a boy’s version someday. The Summit Tigers won their eighth-straight state championship last weekend.
“We are under their umbrella and we want to emulate them,” he said.
Anyone interested in joining can call Craig at (970) 389-7797 and there will also be a website and Facebook page launched next month. With recruitment during December, Craig said the new team will practice during January and February. The first game is planed for March 5.
He also noted that the Blue Goose play touch Rugby on Wednesdays at the Breck Rec Center and any interested young men are welcome to participate.
Although new ventures typically involve navigating unchartered waters, Craig is hopeful the club resonates locally.
“One reason I’m here and not in D.C., in D.C. you don’t feel like you can make an impact,” he said with a smile.
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