Coaches

We appreciate all of our talented coaches.

“…would like to tell you how much I appreciate you being our coach last year. What an awesome introduction to rugby. I don’t think that I have ever seen a better program than the one you ran, and can’t thank you enough for letting us be part of it.”

Head Coach – John Chevalier

  • Crusaders Assistant Coach: 2011-2013
  • Head Coach: 2014-present
  • Club President: 2015-present

Coach John – a.k.a. Coach Chevy – joined the Crusaders coaching staff on a full-time basis in 2011 with his middle son picking up the sport as a 4th grader.  In addition to roles with the Crusaders, Coach Chevy is currently an Assistant Coach with Neuqua Wildcats Rugby Club (adding that role in 2013 with his oldest son starting rugby as a Sophomore there) and a member of the Rugby Illinois Competition Committee entering a 3rd term as Rugby Illinois’ Middle School Coordinator.

During coach Chevy’s tenure as head coach, the Crusaders U14’s have won 2 State Championships in 2015 and 2017, adding on to the championship trophy won by the 2010 edition of the Crusaders. The Crusaders U12’s have also had their share of on field success with a 3rd place finish in 2015 and a State Runners-up trophy in 2017.

Coach Chevy began his rugby as a 3rd grader growing up in the north suburbs of Sydney where he played with Forest Rugby Club. After moving back to the US as a high school freshman, rugby took a backseat to the more American pursuits of football and baseball before resuming rugby upon arrival at Purdue University. Coach Chevy quickly earned a starting spot on Purdue’s 1st side and went on to earn select-side honors 4 times with the Indiana Rugby Union Collegiate All Stars as well as select-side honors twice with the Midwest Rugby Union’s Collegiate All Stars. Coach Chevy captained the Boilermakers to a Big Ten Championship in the fall of 1991, earning MVP honors along the way.  College rugby ended in a humbling manner as coach Chevy picked up an untimely hamstring injury during the All America trials after his senior year, thus derailing hopes to be selected for the USA Collegiate All Americans’ tour to Canada in the Summer of 1992… c’est la vie!

Following college, Coach Chevy moved to the Windy City and joined the Chicago Lions Rugby Club. He followed a similar path as college and quickly earned a starting role with the Lions as well as Chicago Area and Midwest Men’s All-Stars, roles that he would retain throughout his 10 year full-time playing career. Club rugby culminated with captaincies of the Lions in 2001 and Midwest from 1998 through 2000.

Highlights of club playing days include leading the Lions to their first Rugby Super League playoff appearance in 2001 (note that the Lions had won plenty up to that point but just hadn’t cracked into the Super League playoffs) and the Midwest’s first appearance in the National Team Trials Tier 1 competition in 2000. Aspirations to progress from the Territorial level to USA Eagles were ultimately dashed by father time. Although he participated in three straight National Team Trials, coach Chevy was just too old and though he’d never admit it, probably way too slow at that point in his career to garner advancement into the Eagle player pool…  c’est la vie!

From a coaching perspective, Coach Chevy started early on as a player/coach while at Purdue and then jumped straight into it upon retiring for good from his playing days in 2007, holding assistant coaching positions at men’s club level with the Lions, Chicago Area All Stars, and Midwest All-Stars. In addition to current roles with the Crusaders and Wildcats, coach Chevy has also coached 14 seasons of youth football with St. Raphael Football here in Naperville… 2017 is the first fall in a very long time that there’s no football practices to go organize!

The technical stuff…  Coach Chevy has completed coaching certifications with USA Rugby up though Level 200 as well as USA Football Level 1 certification. These certifications include training on all aspects of teaching contact rugby in a safe and age appropriate manner as well as training on injury protocols, including specific training on concussion and heat exhaustion recognition. Coach Chevy also maintains annual registration with Rugby Illinois and his volunteer coach status with the Naperville Park District.

A word from Coach Chevy on measuring success:

“While we are very proud, and rightly so, of our accomplishments on the field, the truest measure of our success as a program is the small manner in which we work to contribute in the development of your children as members of our community.  If we can instill in your children the values and ideals of the sport of rugby: Teamwork; Respect; Enjoyment; Discipline; and Sportsmanship… and see the positive impact of that as they quite literally grow up before our eyes – well then we will consider ourselves to have been hugely successful.  I’ll take that every single time over another State Championship trophy.”

Pete Dobson

  • Assistant Coach: 2016-present

Coach Pete became involved with the Crusaders in 2016 when the oldest of his three sons joined the club as a 5th grader.

As Coach Pete recalls from an early training session, it was made very clear to him by Coach Elliot – in the nicest possible way that having grown up in New Zealand, and being very familiar with rugby that his role was going to be a bit more than just cheering from the sidelines. Fortunately, it didn’t take a lot of convincing to get Pete to sign on with the coaching staff. Per Coach Pete:

“Rugby is a great sport to be involved with in any capacity, and I’m thrilled to be part of the Crusaders and to have active role with rugby once again.”

Growing up in New Zealand, Coach Pete started playing Rugby at the age of 8 at St. Mary’s Primary School in Rotorua, and continued to play into high school before focusing on other interests such as Tae Kwon Do and Music Performance. It was a Music Scholarship that brought Coach Pete to the United States in 1993 to study at Eastern Illinois University. As a student at Eastern, he was an avid fan of the Eastern Illinois Rugby Club and although playing days were behind him at that point, Coach Pete was an active supporter and “social” member of the club.

“Though I had put my playing days behind me at that point, that’s one of the great things about the sport of rugby…. it’s a true community and fraternity of brother’s and sisters. In that respect, is unlike any other sport I know. At Eastern, and here with the Crusaders, I was immediately welcomed in, simply because of the love of this game. No matter how long ago you last stepped on the field, wherever you go in the world, you’ll always be part of the Rugby Family.”

“What I have seen with the growth of rugby in that last 10 years in this country is astonishing. Just a decade ago, the youngest level available to play was high school and is now being played at the middle and elementary school level. With kids being introduced to rugby now in 1st grade, the future of Rugby in the USA is very bright indeed.”

Coach Pete has a 100 level Coaching Certification with USA Rugby and is a registered Coach with Rugby Illinois, volunteering as a Coach with the Naperville Park District.

Dan McGuire

  • Assistant Coach: 2014 – present
  • Vice President: 2015 – present

Coach Dan, stumbled across the Naperville Crusaders as he was looking for an activity to occupy his son’s time and subsequently signed him up for the Crusaders Rookie Rugby camp during summer of 2013 through the Naperville Park District. That was all it took and Dan’s son was hooked and re-upped the next Winter for the 2014 season.

Coach Dan was recruited during the Winter indoor program by Coaches Chevy and Elliot after they learned that Dan had some rugby experience and has been with the program since the 2014 Spring season.

Coach Dan’s athletic experience is firmly rooted in football, playing through college at Benedictine College in Atchison, KS. Coach Dan was an offensive lineman by trade, playing all positions across the line at some point or another. After graduating Dan, returned to his hometown of St. Louis starting his career. Missing the camaraderie of being part a of team and the physical aspects of football coach Dan found his way to the Sunday Morning RFC that filled the void for athletic competition. Career and family took center stage as Dan and family relocated several times including New York and upper Midwest, before setting roots in Plainfield 15 years ago.

In Plainfield, Coach Dan was able to get back involved in sports as a coach and starting in 2008 began coaching football with the Plainfield Jr. Cats holding both Assistant and Head Coaching roles.

Coach Dan is a fully certified rugby coach through USA rugby with his Level 200 certificate with specific focus on safe tackling and concussion protocols. Coach Dan is also a registered volunteer coach with the Naperville Park District.

From Coach Dan:

“What I enjoy most about coaching rugby is the opportunity to teach sportsmanship and respect that is inherent to the game of rugby.”

Mike DelliCarpini

  • Assistant Coach: 2016-present

Mike DelliCarpini aka Coach Mike began his tenure with the Crusaders somewhat by accident and had no plans to start coaching when his son joined the U8 program in the spring of 2016. The Crusaders were looking for additional help at the time and Coach Mike made the mistake of sharing his rugby background with the other coaches. Coach Chevy asked him to help out that Spring with the younger groups and Coach Mike began doing just that. He assisted with the U8 and U10 program immediately with focus on the basics of running and passing. At the end of the spring session, Mike was asked to join the Crusader’s coaching staff officially and he has been with the team ever since..

Coach Mike was unofficially introduced to rugby while still in high school at which time he would watch local college rugby. Originally recruited to play college football, Coach Mike didn’t pick up rugby until relatively late in his athletic career, but was recruited to play rugby for University of Central Florida by some of the team’s current players after hanging up his football cleats. A natural athlete, Coach Mike quickly picked up the game and within a year was starting at prop (front row). Later, he would shift positions to 8-man and go on to Captain UCF to the regional playoffs. After leaving UCF, Coach Mike joined the Iron Horse Rugby Football Club where he played out his club career until other priorities took precedent.

Coach Mike is a certified coach with USA Rugby as a Level 100 coach which includes training on all the games baseline skills as well injury management protocols. He is also a registered coach with Rugby Illinois and a registered volunteer with the Naperville Park District.

When Coach Mike isn’t coaching rugby, you can find him teaching students with special needs. He has his Master’s Degree in Special Education from Loyola University here in Chicago and is a certified Learning Behavior Specialist that works with students that range from Kindergarten to 8th grade. Coach Mike and his family have lived in Naperville since moving from Chicago in 2014.

A word about teamwork from Coach Mike:

“You can’t succeed in rugby without a complete team mentality. Coming together is the beginning. Staying together is progress. Working together is success.”

Dr. Eric Lukosus

  • Assistant Coach: 2016-present

Coach Eric joined the Crusaders coaching staff in 2016. In addition to his role as assistant coach with the Crusaders, he has also been an assistant coach and match day doctor for Neuqua Valley Wildcats Rugby since 2010. Coach Eric’s son plays for the Crusaders and according to both:

“We are having a great time practicing and competing for the Crusaders!”

Coach Eric began playing rugby while attending Palmer Chiropractic College in Davenport, IA. Palmer has a long history as a storied rugby program with beginnings in the late 1950’s. Palmer won multiple NCAA titles in the 70’s and men’s club final four appearances in the 90’s/00’s. Palmer is one of a number of colleges that offer rugby scholarships and coach Eric was fortunate to receive a partial rugby scholarship to pay for school.

After graduating, Eric took his first position as an associate chiropractor in Sydney, Australia with a job offer from a Palmer Rugby Alumni. After returning to the US, coach Eric played his club rugby for the Chicago Blaze Rugby Club located in Lemont.

Coach Eric is now able to share his passion for rugby through coaching and profession as a sports medicine chiropractor. His continuing education of Diplomate American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians and World Rugby Level 2 Immediate Care in Rugby certifications allow Coach Eric me to blend his professional and personal passions. Coach Eric is also involved with rugby in an international capacity, serving as team chiropractor for the Kenyan National 7’s team during the USA leg in the HSBC World Sevens Series in 2016 and 2017.

On a personal note from coach Eric:

“Rugby has inarguably shaped my life for the better. Personally, rugby has taught and polished innumerable skills to me, including: Teamwork; mental toughness; confidence; fitness; and communication to name a few. Rugby has taken me places I never dreamed of visiting: Sydney, Australia; Melrose, Scotland; and even Clinton, Iowa J. Professionally, rugby was responsible for my first job offer and it has shaped my continuing education as a sports chiropractor. The most valuable benefit rugby has given me are all the friends that I have made along the way. As a Crusaders coach, I am dedicated to continuing to pass along all the benefits that rugby has to offer.”

Brandon Bortoli

  • Current:  Naperville Crusaders Assistant Coach; USAR Level 200 Certification and L1 Referee Certification
  • College:  Purdue University RFC; 3 time All-Conference; Midwest All-Star; All America Trialist
  • Club: Indianapolis RFC; Morris RFC (NJ); Lincoln Park RFC
  • Coaching: Purdue University player/coach
  • Other: St Raphael football 2011-2013

Elliott Hershik

  • Crusaders Assistant Coach: 2009-present
  • Club Secretary 2016

Coach Elliot was an original advisor to Crusaders Founder, Graeme Jackson (now head coach at Neuqua Wildcats) when Graeme was looking to start a middle school program. Through coach Elliot’s relationship with the Naperville Park District, the Crusaders were established as the Park District’s youth rugby program. Just prior to that, the boys high school club – Naperville Warriors had been affiliated with the Park District and with Coach Elliot at the helm was on its way to competing in Rugby Illinois’ Division 1 Championship and establishing itself with a measure of national recognition. By 2009, the Warriors program had really outgrown it’s Park District status and the Crusaders were able to step in to fill that void. Much thanks for the vision and foresight of both Coaches Elliot and Jackson.

Over time Coach Elliot has modified his role with the Crusaders into his self proclaimed (but richly deserved) “Coach Emeritus” status. He works with players at all four levels as well as the newer coaches – the latter, primarily so he doesn’t have to hold a ruck shields and tackle dummies during drills quite as often as he used to. 🙂

Coach Elliot started his career in rugby as a sophomore in college at Cornell in Ithaca, NY as a means of meeting new people. He was new to organized team sports but quickly realized that in 1979 no one else knew how to play this game either, negating the need for prior experience and putting all participants on a level playing field. At the time, Cornell was coached by a grad student who emphasized the ethos of the sport… and coach Elliot soon discovered that he enjoyed rugby’s mix of contact and running along with the unique camaraderie that exists among all players. It was during this time that another graduate student showed up to play who lifted the focus, intensity and performance based on his experience having played with the USA Eagles. Another of coach Elliot’s Cornell teammates would eventually go on to represent the USA as an Eagle.

After college Coach Elliot served in the USMC and continued to play rugby for his local base teams wherever he was stationed. It was at one station that Elliot picked up his first coaches whistle. On relocating to Chicagoland in 1986 he took a hiatus from rugby to focus on his business career and wooing his future wife, whoever she may be. Having sorted out both these priorities by 1991, Coach Elliot returned to play that Fall for the Chicago Lions. A year later, Coaches Elliot and Chevy would become teammates for the Lions – who would have guessed back then that 25 years later they’d be coaching a youth club in Naperville?!! Over the next dozen years, Coach Elliot played as much as work and family would allow… sometimes a little more.

In 2003, Coach Elliot’s next door neighbor, who had watched him go off on Saturdays to play for the past 10 years, came over and announced that his son was going to start playing for the local HS team, the Naperville Warriors, and coach Elliot was extended an invitation to come and watch. Taking up the offer enthusiastically he came out to observe practice and during that session, the then head coach asked if he “knew anything about this”. And from there, Coach Elliot joined the staff and began his coaching career in earnest.

Factual stuff: Coach Elliot holds a Level 300 coaching certification and Level 1 referee certification from USA Rugby. He is also trained in rugby specific first aid. He has been an Assistant Coach for the HS boys All-State team since 2006 and has also helped out with the HS girls All-State team when needed. Elliot is a past President of Rugby Illinois, the governing body for all youth rugby in Illinois. Over time, Coach Elliot has learned to just play age-appropriate matches and looks forward to those trips where he can enjoy playing “Old Boys” rugby.

While Coach Elliot will never claim to have been a tremendous athlete or standout rugby player, he has always played for and been associated with clubs where hard work was recognized and rewarded and that epitomize the ideals of rugby. Coach Elliot carries this perspective with all that he does.

A comment from Coach Elliot:

“The fun comes from realizing that you are getting better week to week and seeing that payoff on match days. Rugby is unique because all players from beginners to players of the highest caliber can develop and practice together which makes both better. Success is when a player develops a love for the game and goes on to play at the next age level.”