MARIETTA, Ga. – Life University Director of Athletics Jayme Pendergast is pleased to announce the promotion of Colton Cariaga to Head Coach of the men’s varsity rugby program. Over the last two years, Cariaga, a native of Charlotte, N.C., has served as an assistant under Scott Lawrence as part of one the most successful and nationally-recognized collegiate rugby programs in the country.
“Colton has been through the trenches and his passion and dedication to LIFE’s undergraduate rugby program is evident,” said Director of Athletics Jayme Pendergast. “It would be hard to find someone with the same level of character, organization, attention to detail, and most importantly, passion for developing young student-athletes. Colton has been coached and mentored by many great and well respected coaches, most recently as an assistant under Scott Lawrence. I have no doubt that this program will continue to lead the country in collegiate rugby, but will also continue to do so in a way that puts academic success and service at the forefront.”
“Coach Cariaga has been with our program from the very start of our undergraduate initiative,” said Lawrence of his former assistant. “I’m confident he’ll carry on the work here in developing young men through sport, and wish him the best of luck.”
In his time so far with the Running Eagles, Cariaga has helped the program to two USA Rugby DIA Collegiate National Championship matches, including winning the 2016 title. Additionally, he has guided the squad to back-to-back DIA Mid-South Conference Championships. At Life, Cariaga has also served as the head coach of the men’s 7s rugby team and led them to the 2017 Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship match.
“It is a privilege to transition into this role considering the immense support we receive from our institution, athletic department and community of alumni and friends,” said Cariaga. “The environment we are able to provide our student-athletes is highly organized and nurturing yet we are always looking for ways to enrich the overall experience. Our network of support affords us the opportunity to do so.
“Personally, it’s an honor to follow in the footsteps of two men I would consider my biggest mentors in coaching – Scott Lawrence and Dan Payne. The pair of them are so intentional in helping people grow in their respective disciplines and I have been quite fortunate to spend a handful of years learning from and working alongside them.”
In addition to his coaching duties with Life U, Cariaga is well regarded within USA Rugby, serving as an assistant coach with the U20 National Team since 2016. In 2015, he worked as a Youth Development Officer with the national organization. In this position, he worked to coordinate the Adopt-A-Country program that consisted of pairing a participating nation of the United States’ leg of the World Series of 7s Rugby with a Greater Atlanta Area elementary school and developing a PE class program that taught students the core principles of Rugby. He also helped to facilitate the interaction between women’s national teams from Australia, Fiji, Canada, the U.S. and the elementary schools.
On a more local level, Cariaga has served on the advisory board for Atlanta Youth Rugby for the past two years. He also served as the head coach for the organization in 2015.
As a player, Cariaga was equally as successful. As a student-athlete at Life U, he was named the team captain from 2010-2013 and led the squad to two national championships and was a two-time Collegiate All-American. In addition to his college career, Cariaga was also a member of the USA U19 National team. After college, Cariaga spent time with Trinity Rugby of the All-Ireland League, as well as the USA Falcons and the USA Selects.
“In my time within the Life U rugby program, one thing has remained constant: the desire to improve on a daily basis, and within that, a focus on the virtues of honesty, accountability and commitment,” remarked Cariaga. “Even as the program evolves over time, we will continue to seek out student-athletes and staff who share that perspective. I am look forward to working with current and future classes of highly dedicated rugby student-athletes, as we strive to build on our recent successes in the classroom, on the field, and in the community.”