In 2014, Warwick resident Laura Corbin and her son Devin made the trip out to Ireland as part of the Damhsa Irish Dance Studio.
During his time overseas, Devin made many friends, who exposed him to some Gaelic sports, specifically football and hurling. When he returned back to his home soil, he decided that he wanted to continue to compete in Gaelic football and hurling, and quickly began digging for teams on the local scene that offered the sports.
Since then, Devin has been competing in Gaelic football in Canton, MA as part of the Boston Gaelic Athletic Association, along with numerous other athletes from the New England area. He also is part of a the Providence Hurling Club as well.
“It started when I was doing Irish step dancing and I went to Ireland. I met people that played Gaelic football over there. The more I played it the more I begin to like it and I began to search for leagues over here and now I am on an adult team and would like to bring it to Rhode Island,” said Devin, who believes that Gaelic football is an even faster-paced sport than American football and rugby. “It’s a fast-paced sport where you don’t get a lot of downtime, you are always looking for something to do and there is a lot of action.”
Both Devin and Laura received their coaching certifications from the BAA in the two sports, and have big plans as they hope to spread awareness of what these Irish-based sports can offer.
Their plans begin with the football side of the coin, as they recently hosted their first youth Gaelic football clinic at Lippitt Elementary School in Warwick. At the clinic, the pair taught the basics of the sport and provided an introduction to those who were interested.
Outside of the fun on the field, the Corbin’s believe that these Gaelic sports can also provide locals an opportunity to get to know a new culture and new people from throughout the world.
“Rhode Island has such a rich group of people from many different nationalities. We want to start by making a team and bringing these people together,” said Laura. “This sport is played in places like Ireland, Australia, Africa, and many others. The United States is a little behind in learning the sport and we would love to be able to help grow it here.”
“It gives you the opportunity to meet people from all over the world since there are so few teams in the US. People come from all over the world, it’s really spread out so it’s great to be able to communicate with them,” added Devin.
Laura sees the introduction of Gaelic sports as a potential economic boon as well.
“This sport is played at a national level. In Boston last year, we had 5,000 people make the trip to compete in one of our big events. If we had even half of that come to Warwick, that would be a big boost to the area from an economic stand point,” said Laura.
More than anything, Devin hopes to see locals come out and try something new, and to not be intimidated as everyone will be on a similar skill and experience level.
“What’s nice about this is that very few people know the sport, so they will all be learning together and be in the same boat,” said Devin. “Most athletes from around her are homegrown and trained, they just don’t have the exposure to these sports. That is what our goal is … to expand that and to show people how great Gaelic sports are.”