Football Athlete Bringing Youth Together With Rugby
By: Monte’ Gaddis
You will struggle to find someone more passionate about growing the sport of Rugby League and building a future for the youth than myself.
To start off, I would like to thank all my supporters worldwide, especially those in Nashville, Tennessee. I am Monté Gaddis, the owner of the Cleveland Rugby League and the founder of The Little Leagues youth program.
My journey started with dreams of being in the NFL at the age of 10. But when plans fell through, that’s where the ultimate hustle began. My name was never called in the 2014 NFL Draft or even years later, but that’s not where the story stopped. My last years of football were in 2015 with the Gydnia Seahawks (Poland) and the Iowa Barnstormers (Indoor Football League).
I started playing rugby league in 2016 when I was asked to attend trials for the professional Toronto Wolfpack, who were forming a team ahead of their inaugural season the following year. The Wolfpack heard of my story with the Cleveland Browns and gave me a tryout of a lifetime. I traveled to three Rugby League tryouts around North America, and I was chosen with 17 other trialists to fly over to the United Kingdom to grind for a professional contract.
The inspiration for my founding the Rugby Club and the Youth Program came from not having rugby league in my city; I wanted to be the guy who helped create opportunity. Although I played at Shaw Cross (United Kingdom) after the trials and played for Red Star Belgrade (Serbia) in 2018, it was only suitable to be the RL culture back in Cleveland, Ohio.
The youth program launched in 2021, where we partnered with six schools in Cleveland, Ohio, to teach the youth about Rugby League. In 2023, we have partnered with more than 15 schools/organizations in Cleveland, Ohio, and four elementary schools in Nashville, Tennessee. The schools are Napier, Inglewood, Fall-Hamilton, and JE Moss, hoping to double that number in the upcoming months.
The program’s mission is to provide a fun, safe, and educational atmosphere for all students. The Little Leagues teaches students the skills necessary to function in today’s competitive world. The program now has added Pickleball, Hockey, and Volleyball to its curriculum, using the sports as vehicles to show the youth about physical fitness, teamwork, and the academic skills necessary for success.
The goal is to have more kids of all ages, genders, and ethnicities have a Rugby League ball in their hands. Doing that will change the narrative and make Rugby League a Top 3 sport in the USA. We are just growing the game the best we can and are making sure we can control everything we can control.
Please follow me on all social media platforms at @montegaddis