Rugby: UNH honors memory of Scott Milley at annual tournament

By Josh Sullivan
On April 8, 2014

The UNH men's and women's rugby team paid tribute to a fallen hero and brother this past Saturday by playing host to the third annual Scott F. Milley Memorial 7's Tournament. The tournament is put together by both Milley's family and the UNH rugby team to honor a former Wildcat rugger that was a member of the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division and was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan in Nov. 2010. 

The tournament was host to men's, women's and open divisions and brought in teams from all over New England including Dartmouth College, Mass Maritime Academy, Colby-Sawyer and Westfield State University, who the men's team defeated handily in the finals to win the day's tournament. Despite the competitive nature amongst the different teams, it was obvious that honoring Scott was the larger picture of the day. 

"This tournament is truly making lemonade out of lemons," Scott's father Steve Milley said in a speech to everyone in attendance. He then went on to describe all the different ways the money raised from the tournament goes on to help soldiers and their families, whether it be giving money to a fiancée who must travel to visit her wounded soldier across the country or helping the family of a fallen father pay for college tuition. 

"We honor him in many ways but I would say the UNH rugby team and UNH ROTC program are two that are near and dear to our hearts," Milley said. When Scott came to UNH he joined ROTC and as certainly as a parent maybe that's not a good thing to do when there's a war going on, but there was no deterring him. He was born to lead."

Along with a day full of rugby - there were constantly three games going on at once throughout the day, all on different fields - there was lunch provided and cooked by the Milley family themselves and plenty of stories reminiscing about Scott. Though many ruggers and coaches had never met the man personally, it was not hard to find a connection with him.

"I went up and talked to his dad, the first thing I did here," Colby-Sawyer senior Jake Stigliano said. "He was just a great kid; he came out and had no idea what he was doing but he just wanted to play rugby. He came out and had fun and that's kind of what our team is like."

"I never met Scott but I've heard amazing things about him from the alumni," UNH senior second rower Patrick Meade said. "He would always just kind of go out of his way, and was never in a bad mood."

"On the field he was organized, ferocious but at the same time sportsmanlike," alumni John Wing, who played with Milley said. "He was a brother in my eyes."

One thing that stuck out amongst all these stories was the parallel between the characteristics of a rugger and a soldier and how Scott fit the mold for both of these roles just perfectly.

"In rugby there's not a lot of rules, kind of like war and keeping calm in that chaos is where Scott thrived," Steve Milley said. "The rugby-to-rugby player and soldier-to-soldier level of respect is unparallel to anything else."

There was no shortness of comedy within the memories of Scott either. Everyone who knew him or knew of him had a funny story to tell about him.

"I remember when he was a freshman, Scott was playing in an indoor tournament in a barn," Steve Milley began a story. "There was a kid that came at him and somehow ended up on top of him like this," Scott raised his arms above his head in a shoulder press position, "and he didn't know what to do so he just dropped him. When he got a penalty you know what he said to the ref? 'Hey, at least I didn't spike him.' After he came off the field, someone made a point at pointing out there was blood on his jersey. 'Not mine' was his only response."

Wing also recalls a party story from his years at UNH.

"We were at a party and someone had blocked his girlfriends car into the driveway," Wing said. "He comes running into the house and yells for the freshman to get outside, that we're going to move a car. We all thought someone was going to get in the car and drive it, but no, Scott actually had us all huddle around the rear end of the car and swing it about six feet out of the way we could get it out. That's just who he was. He was extreme but at the same time hilarious." 

"Unfortunately when someone dies you look back at their life and you can see that thread of putting others first from very early on in life," Steve Milley said.  

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