Summit senior rugby star PK Vincze to join close friend Cassidy Bargell at Harvard
Vincze to suit up in fall for reigning national champion Crimson
DILLON — As the Summit High School girls rugby program marched to the Tigers’ 12th consecutive state championship last fall, PK Vincze had another interesting storyline developing in her personal rugby journey.
The high-school All-American was undecided between the U.S. Military Academy and Harvard — the two girls rugby programs that would eventually meet in the women’s rugby union national championship game. To cap a Harvard season that began with a loss to West Point, the Crimson defeated Army in the national title game for women’s college rugby’s ultimate glory.
After a thorough recruiting process where she had her choice of several of the country’s top women’s rugby programs, Vincze was in attendance for Harvard’s win that day with her father John, decked out in Harvard crimson. On the pitch was Vincze’s close friend Cassidy Bargell, a sister-like figure who helped steer Harvard to the national title as a sophomore.
Looking ahead to the fall, Vincze is likely to play somewhere on the back line at Harvard. She has the opportunity to play directly with Bargell, Harvard’s leader from the back, over the next two years.
“It’s exciting because she’s been a big role model in my life,” Vincze said. “She has a lot of the same dreams and aspirations as me. When I started with Summit rugby as a freshman, she was the best player on the team. And I’d volunteer to get tackled by her, or tackle her, which was the hardest thing to do. And (Summit head coach Karl) Barth set us up a lot in one-on-ones. So to play with her in college is kind of a dream.”
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Harvard has not finalized plans for student athletes to return to campus amid the coronavirus pandemic. Until then, Bargell is back in Summit, which has provided the longtime friends the opportunity to hang out and train together more than they otherwise would have. Considering both players are on the USA Rugby U-20 team, they’ve been meeting up at the Summit High School fields to take part in whatever virtual weekly challenges USA Rugby has been sharing with players. Often that’s rugby-specific challenges, but sometimes it’s something unrelated to the sport, such as seeing which player can do a handstand for the longest time.
Reflecting on Vincze’s growth on the rugby pitch, Bargell said she still could remember when the athletic Vincze was a freshman for Barth’s program. Back then, she was still learning the game and lacking some confidence. But in the past two years, Bargell said, it’s become evident to her that Vincze has taken huge steps in her confidence, knowledge and skills as a captain for Summit.
“I’m excited to play with an older, more confident version of PK,” said Bargell, a 2020 finalist for women’s college rugby’s top honor. “And that’s because she has the athleticism to be an incredible player. On and off the field, she’s one of the most enthusiastic people. Harvard is lucky to be getting her enthusiasm and energy. I’m excited for all my college teammates to experience that.”
The Summit head coach Barth said Vincze joining Bargell at Harvard is the latest example of Summit Tigers continuing to play with one another in college. It’s happened before at championship programs such as Dartmouth, Lindenwood and Quinnipiac. He agreed with Bargell that Vincze is a true student of the game of rugby who still has a lot of potential upside.
“And I don’t think she’s realized it all yet,” Barth said. “She’s passionate about it. She sees the work Cassidy puts in every day in the offseason, and I think PK has a great drive. I’m not sure where they will end up playing her, but they’ll definitely be getting a player who is versatile and a good student of the game.”
Vincze said she plans to study biology and chemistry with a long-term goal of premedical research and an eye toward medical school. She said she might also take part in the college’s Army ROTC program.
“It’s an awesome educational opportunity for her,” Barth said.
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