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Monday, December 9, 2019

Sports > College

SW grad McKinley Bernitt takes up rugby at Marywood University

Nov 22, 2019

By Joseph Abraham - co-editor

SW grad and North Branch resident McKinley Bernitt is excelling at the sport of rugby for the Marywood University Pacers.
SCRANTON (Pa.) - When McKinley Bernitt first stepped onto the campus of Marywood University in Scranton (Pa.), the plan was for her to play basketball.
However, due to a number of factors, the Sullivan West grad and North Branch resident that played soccer and basketball throughout her high school career, decided to make a change.
Bernitt had an interest in giving rugby a try, but was told she could not play both sports. So Bernitt took a chance and quit the basketball team.

“It was really scary at first because I really love basketball, but a lot of things made me stray away from it,” Bernitt said. “I was scared of trying a new sport and getting hurt. But after I tried it [rugby] I loved it and the girls on the team. It just clicked and all the fear went away.”
As for what she loves the most about rugby, Bernitt said, “The comradery between your team and your opponent. It's a very respectful sport.” She adds that oftentimes the opposing teams, after trying to “beat each other up” on the field, will hang out after the match is over.
The D-III Marywood Pacers went 10-2-1 overall and 8-1 in Atlantic East Conference play this fall. Bernitt, a sophomore, who mostly plays center and occasionally wing, was nominated to try out for the rugby all-star team and will do so in the near future.
At the center position, Bernitt's main job is to move the ball forward and get it to a wing who then tries and beat the defense to score points.
McKinley scored five tries (touchdowns) equalling 25 points this past fall. In comparison to the rest of the team, Bernitt had the fourth most tries and points scored this season.
“McKinley has been a great addition to the team on and off the field,” Marywood Men's and Women's Rugby Coach John Gulden said. “Her natural athletic ability and speed has allowed her to be one of our biggest offensive threats. I was very impressed with how quickly she was able to understand rugby. She has been improving every day and for a hard worker like her the sky's the limit.”
Academically, Bernitt is currently in the pre-physician assistant program and is applying to be one of 30 Marywood students to be accepted to the school's physician assistant program. Sixty make it, with the other 30 coming from outside applicants.

Post-Script highlights Sullivan County athletes who have went on to play sports in college or the pros. If you know someone who fits the description, email

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