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Lander graduate makes his mark in business and on the rugby pitch

January 21, 2016

Waymon Cassell credits the combination of what he learned in the classroom at Lander University and his athletic talents for providing a foundation to help him grow as a man.

Cassell, a Greenville native, graduated from Lander in 2011 with a degree in business administration with a marketing management emphasis. He is employed as a sales representative for VELUX in Nashville, Tenn.

During his four years at Lander, he played on the university’s rugby team coached by Professor of Biology Dr. T.D. Maze, and, on several occasions, he was named to collegiate all star teams of the Deep South Rugby Conference.

After graduating, he spent a year in Thailand, teaching business and English courses at Rajamangala University of Technology, in Bangkok, and he worked with the Thai prime minister’s office to further business and English programs.

He also found time for rugby as a starter on a Bangkok team that played matches with teams from Thailand, the Philippines and Australia.

After returning from Thailand, Cassell played for the Division II Greenville Griffins Rugby Club. During his first year with the Griffins, he was selected to play for the USA South Panthers, described by one sportswriter as a mainstay in American rugby. That season, the Panthers lost to Guyana in the North America Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) championship match. NACRA is one of six world rugby regional associations, and the governing body of the rugby unions in North America and the Caribbean.

In 2014, Cassell relocated to Nashville and signed to play with another Division II team, but suffered a knee injury that required surgery and sidelined him for the season. The next year, he won a starting position with the Nashville team, and at the same time, he maintained his affiliation with the USA South Panthers.

In November 2015, the Panthers conducted their annual tryouts and Cassell was picked for the team a second time. The following month, the Panthers took on Capital Rugby Union Selects from Virginia in a match to decide which team would advance to play the Bahamas Rugby Union national team. The Panthers won that match, 41-32, and on Jan. 9 of this year in Nassau, they defeated the Bahamian team, 37-18. Cassell was on the starting team and played about 70 minutes of the match. The victory qualified the Panthers for next year’s NACRA tournament. This year is a qualifying year for Rugby World Cup competition.

Cassell said, “Rugby has become a big part of my life. I’ve been hooked since TD (Maze) introduced me to this great game.” He added that rugby has given him countless life lessons, transformed him into a leader and given him an infinite amount of self-confidence. “Many of the skills I’ve learned through rugby have translated to successes in my life outside rugby.”

And Cassell emphasized that Maze had a lot to do with his victories on and off the rugby pitch, describing him as his strongest influence during his time at Lander. “TD spent countless hours with the team, helping to develop us into great rugby players and, more importantly, great men.”

Maze said he first met Cassell when he was a freshman in Maze’s biology laboratory. Cassell had no experience with rugby but, after joining the team, Maze said he demonstrated “freakish” athleticism and versatility. He said Cassell used his size, strength and speed, and played almost every position for the Lander team.

After he graduated, Cassell and Maze continued their rugby connection. They coached together and played on a men’s rugby team in Greenville. Maze said of Cassell, “It’s hard not to root for great things to happen to such a great guy.”

 Waymon Cassell and teammate resize

Lander University graduate Waymon Cassell, right, poses with one of his teammates on the Nashville, Tenn., rugby team. Cassell was on Lander’s rugby team for four years before graduating, and has pursued his love of the sport in this country and abroad.