Stiles Awarded Wright Rugby Trophy

SOCORRO, N.M. May 6, 2015 – Junior engineering student John Mark Stiles has been named recipient of the Jeremiah Wright Memorial Trophy as New Mexico Tech’s top rugby player for the 2014-2015 term. Stiles, who was tapped in a vote by his teammates, will receive an engraved pewter mug and have his name engraved on the Jeremiah Wright Trophy along with 11 previous winners.           


John Mark Stiles with Dave Wheelock.


The Jeremiah Wright Memorial Trophy is awarded in the memory of former Tech Rugby Club captain Jeremiah Wright of Raton, N.M., who died in a motor vehicle accident during his senior year in 2002. Beginning in 2004, 12 names have been added to the Jeremiah Wright Trophy, which was constructed in Raton by Jeremiah’s coaches and resides at the Tech gymnasium: Mark Kelly, Rob Harrison, Phillip Turner, Seth Daly, Matt Majors, Matt Nelson, Jay Herrera, Isaiah Sanchez, Enrique Koerdell, Blaine Trujillo, Jason Lee, and now John Mark Stiles.

John Mark Sanders Stiles was born May 28, 1992, to Aimee and John Stiles in Chattanooga, Tenn. He graduated from high school at Adams Country Christian Academy in Gettysburg, Penn., where he played basketball, soccer, and ran track before attending junior college at the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell. He transferred to New Mexico Tech in 2013.

Concentrating his studies in petroleum and natural gas engineering, John Mark also found a home on the Tech rugby pitch. “It is unlike any other sport I have ever played. Rugby challenges all aspects of a player in terms of personal performance and as a member of a complex team.”

Playing at one of the two wing positions, John Mark immediately wowed his teammates with his natural sprinting speed. Managing his studies so that he could make nearly all team sessions, Stiles’ rugby skills improved rapidly. As key back line players graduated, Stiles became captain of the backs and moved to center to shore up Tech’s midfield defense and to be closer to the forwards in their role in gaining ball possession. He scored one try and one penalty goal from the pivotal fly half position in the Rio Grande Union collegiate championships, won by Tech in Socorro on April 4.

Off the pitch John Mark has served as club secretary and proven himself a valuable club asset. “Ironically,” he said, “being a willing follower makes me a leader; serving my time, and doing my part big or small within the club or school.”

He organized an evening of team-building activities for both the men’s and women’s rugby clubs last fall and his cheery nature continually lifts team morale. John Mark’s large personality was not wasted in his part time job in the Admissions Office, where he is often called upon to provide walking tours for prospective students and their parents.

John Mark is on target to graduate in May 2016 and credits his “seven member loving family who are all highly motivated and encouraging” for much of his success. “Sports have been a big part of my life” he said appreciatively, as well as “classmates who encourage me to push through the caffeine-fueled nights and occasionally wake me up in class.”

As he prepares for his final year as an undergraduate at New Mexico Tech, John Mark says it’s important to remember that “college is more than just a diploma. Enjoy your time, gain some experience, and meet new people.” Above all, he says, “Stay positive. The only thing you can control in any circumstance is yourself.”

– NMT –

By Dave Wheelock/Tech Rugby Director