Mike Dabulas On Old Glory DC, Playing The Giltinis And Being The Chickenhawk
Written by Joe Harvey | Photo by Paris Malone
Having made two appearances for the team in their debut season in Major League Rugby, it quickly became clear that the collegiate All-American would certainly have a future as a professional rugby player.
Having started playing rugby in his native state New Jersey for the Union Rugby Football Club Mudturtles, where he won the Rugby New Jersey Division 1 State Championship with the U18 squad, before attending Penn State University, serving as the team’s captain before graduating in 2019 and signing with DC.
OLD GLORY’S SEASON SO FAR
For Mike and his teammates, the 2021 season got underway in New Orleans. Making the journey to Louisiana, the 24-year-old was starting as the team’s full-back.
For the next game, Mike came off the bench against Rugby ATL. The following game he was starting as fly-half in the loss to Toronto and for the last two fixtures against Rugby United New York and New England, he started as full-back.
Photo by Craig Boudreaux
“I love it,” Mike said when asked about having a regular role with his team. “It is a lot of responsibility, but I feel like I am ready for it and I am still learning a lot. I have gold medals around me now (since the arrival of Osea Kolinisau), guys with so many caps and every day I am learning something new. It is pretty epic.
“We have a really good culture, everybody is trying to help each other, everybody is trying to learn, there are no bad influences on the team, so everybody is very approachable, so it is pretty good.”
At this point of the season, Old Glory DC sits fifth in the East Conference, with 13 points to their name. Just three points away from Toronto, who sit in the top spot, it is virtually impossible to predict week-to-week which team will top the conference come the weekend’s end.
“It is quite good it is like that, because now no one is underestimating any teams,” Mike said.
“We are not just thinking how this team has lost to another team and it is going to be an easy win. We still have to prepare and do our roles; I think it is good and anybody can beat anybody.”
When going through Mike’s social media, there is a common occurrence, Mike is referred to as Chickenhawk. His social media handles attest to this and he is referred to as ‘Chicken’ regularly by his friends and teammates. So, it felt prudent to ask the 24-year-old where the nickname came from.
“It came from my best friend’s dad, who was my coach at the time, when I was much younger, in the third grade,” Mike said.
“When I got angry, my nose goes down, a little like a beak and it stuck. It is from Foghorn Leghorn and this little guy called Henery Hawk and his catchphrase was ‘I’m a chicken hawk, and I’m going to take you home’ and that reminded him of me.
“Everybody calls me it. I have had buddies who for years didn’t know my real name.”
PLAYING THE GILTINIS
As challenges come, the LA Giltinis will no doubt be one of the toughest tests any side will face in the 2021 season. Unbeaten so far in their life as an MLR team, last weekend the Giltinis beat their California rivals, the San Diego Legion 45-17 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
As a result of that, and their four other wins, Darren Coleman’s team top the West Conference with 25 points and have a game in hand on their nearest rivals, the Austin Gilgronis.
“They are probably going to be our biggest challenge,” Mike said. “Everybody in the league sees them as the top dog right now. They are undefeated, so we are going to have to bring our ‘A’ game.
“They are going to have a lot of big stars on that team, so we have got to go out there and punch them in the mouth a little bit.”
Mental Fitness powered by WCF Insurance
- How do you define “being fit” both physically and mentally?
Physically, I would just say being in shape, whether that is running long distance or being able to lift a lot of weight, just being able to move and then mentally, it is about having a little bit of confidence in what you are doing and what you believe and just backing yourself, because I know that throughout a season you kind of second guess yourself, you kind of make mistakes, but being able to know that you are doing something right and following something you believe is pretty important.
- On game days, how do you prepare mental clarity? / How important is it to prepare mentally for game days?
It is important. There is a visualization of what your roles are and just imagining what you are going to do on the field is pretty important. I do a little bit of that, but I mainly just like to stay relaxed and kind of just ease into it until it is game time. So many guys have superstitions, the night before a game, I have to have sour patch kids, that’s just a superstition I have.
- Do you find that exercising or doing some form of physical activity helps you mentally?
Absolutely, massively. As an example, during quarantine, there was a time where I wasn’t really doing anything, and I noticed that things had started to get a little weird mentally and I kind of felt off a little bit. Then, as soon as I started getting running and back into it, I felt back to my normal self.
- How do you mentally overcome a tough loss and/or injury?
Tough losses are hard, but you kind of just need to flush it. That’s a big term we use, to flush it. Injuries are a little bit tougher because it is longer, but you really need to just focus on the act of recovery and just doing what you can to not keep thinking ‘I am hurt’. You need to think about what you are doing next.
- How do you contribute to your mental health on a daily basis?
Diet, I think helps, just trying to eat clean, to treat your body as well as you can. Then there are other small things, like going for walks to clear your head, or finding a hobby where it takes your mind off rugby or whatever else is going on.
HOW TO WATCH
This Saturday Old Glory DC travels to Los Angeles this weekend to take on the LA Giltinis. The match is being broadcasted live at 9:00 PM ET on FOX Sports 2 and fans outside of the United States can watch the game for free on The Rugby Network.
Written by Joe Harvey | Photo by Griff Lacey To say that
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