The time and effort senior Marqiece Cunningham puts into the rugby team at The University of Southern Mississippi is far over looked.
Cunningham got involved in rugby when he was approached to play one summer. He explains, “I was walking past a sevens practice one summer and a couple of guys stopped to ask me to play. Coming from a football background, I had that stereotypical reaction to say no because there were no pads involved, but after only ten minutes, they convinced me to try it. After that, I was hooked and played in my first tournament 10 days later at Vulcan 7s in Birmingham and played 7 matches between three different teams. GREAT day to say the least.”
Since falling in love with the sport, he has helped Southern Miss program stay alive. He has taken on numerous roles such as captain, vice-president, president, and he is currently the backs coach. Along with those important roles, Cunningham has also been selected to play with the Deep South All Stars and played D1-AA rugby at Temple.
He has enjoyed his time at Southern Miss but he explains it has been a challenge. “There’s been a lot of good and bad. The things I’ve gone through with this team from struggling with numbers and questionable commitment to learning who is willing to break their back as much as I am for just the opportunity to play rugby and not just say they are a part of the team have really helped me develop as a player and leader. I’ve had a lot of opportunity here to gain understanding on the motivations of individuals and how to make the best impact possible,” said Cunningham.
He went on to explain his favorite moment playing for Southern Miss came in a game against South Alabama. He continued, “Playing South Alabama the Fall of 2013. I strained my hamstring in the first ten minutes which turned it into the most physically painful match I’ve ever played and I couldn’t run full speed. Despite all of that, I still scored twice and had a great time. I also had to be carried off the field at the end from being so exhausted lol. It’s one of the most memorable matches I’ve had.”
Come out and watch Cunningham and Southern Miss this Saturday as they take on the Spring Hill Badgers 1:30 p.m. at Dorn Field on Spring Hill’s campus.