Ben and Adam, a couple of bears from Dallas and San Diego, arrived in Nashville last winter. Ben had played for the Dallas Diablos, RFC and his partner Adam began commuting from San Diego when Ben took a new job in Nashville. Doug and Chris noticed on a certain website that shall remain nameless [Bear411] that Ben had played rugby and wanted to start a club so they began talking to him about how to make that happen. Many of these conversations took place at a bar that shall remain nameless (The Chute).
Spring: Grizzlies Awake
Ben, Doug, and Chris put together an organizational meeting at Doug's house and about fifteen guys came over to learn more about the sport. Soon after on a cold Saturday in March, eight guys showed up for the first practice. [see pic of the founding papa bears below] Stan, who participated in that first practice, is still an active player with the club. Ben began organizing regular practices a couple of times a week and more guys kept showing up as word got around. One day after practice, the guys went to a certain bar and started talking about a name for the club. Given the bearish way the founders met, the name Grizzlies moved to the top of the list. No Grizzly bears in Nashville, you say? Well, are there Dragons in Chicago? How many Bucks (the animal...) have you seen in Atlanta? Is Dallas full of Devils (Diablos)? Well, OK, maybe a few. Its the spirit of the mascot that matters, right? Grizzlies just seemed to fit.
Summer: Grizzlies Come out (of the Forest)
The Grizzlies began to recruit rabidly as summer approached. Many of the guys who are now on the team first learned about the Grizzlies at Nashville Pride. A few weeks later some of the Grizzlies went down to Atlanta to march with the Bucks in the Atlanta Pride parade and get a taste of the social side of rugby. The relationship with the Bucks has been one of the keys to the development of the club. A few of the Bucks came up to Nashville one weekend in July and ran a boot camp that took the Grizzlies to the next level. [pics] By now the Grizzlies were practicing three times a week, improving their skills and drawing many new guys to the team.
Mama Bear Adopts the Grizzlies
Little did we know that we lived in the same city as a rugby powerhouse - Shannon, Warrior Princess. We had been looking for a coach, but not having much luck. One of the Grizzlies met Shannon and brought her to a practice. She immediately brought focus, discipline, and an emphasis on basic skills to the Grizzlies, all excellent traits needed by her new cubs. With thirteen years of playing and six years of coaching experience (she started as a child), Shannon recognized the raw talent and untapped potential in the club. One night after practice, the Grizzlies all got down on one knee and asked Shannon to be our coach (really happened). Blushing a little, she accepted.
Fall: Grizzlies Attack
As the team began to improve, we felt confident enough to begin seeking matches. We showed up in Charlotte, North Carolina on October 7, 2006 in shiny new uniforms [pics] to take on the Charlotte Royals. Even though we lost 37-14, we made a good showing for our first time out and made Shannon proud. The Nashville Grizzlies boast a roster of 28 guys, an incredible feat for our first year, and continue to carve out a place for gay men interested in playing rugby in Nashville.