On and off the court Senior Rich Pugliese defines what it means to be a student athlete

Megan Julian, Sports Editor

He needs to have Sof Sole insoles in his shoes for every practice and game. He washes the same undershirt every night so that he can wear it to every single practice.

For Rich Pugliese, one of three senior captains on the Men’s Basketball team, it is imperative to have these two things throughout the season.

Pugliese is the Hawk’s leading scorer so far this season. In the last 18 games, he has scored 280 points, averaging 15 points a game. 

During his first three years at RWU, he was known as a perimeter player or three-point shooter. According to Pugliese, Head Coach Mike Tully wanted to change the offense up a little bit this season.

“So, that meant I needed to go to the hoop more and score on the inside of the paint,” Pugliese said. 

He made it a point to make time in and outside of practice and games in order to work on driving to the hoop.

“I was catching the ball and just trying to rip through and get to the hoop,” he said.

Tully described Pugliese as diligent, hardworking and focused.

“He truly has been that since he has come here… coming in as a freshman, he had to find his way and he understood where he was back then,” Tully said. “He has progressed each year and has matured into a student athlete that can handle and excel in a leadership role.” 

Tully believes Pugliese has truly embodied what it means to be a student athlete because of his approach to situations and how he excels in both academics and athletics.

When Pugliese began his search for colleges, he said the coaching staff here at RWU was something that really pulled him in. But this was not the only reason he decided to attend.

“I did an overnight and I came for two games. I loved the atmosphere of the crowd, I really loved the campus, the gym and the Rec Center. The main reason I believe was the campus itself,” Pugliese said. “The business school is nice and there was more reason to come here… rather than only basketball. l was happy playing basketball either way.” 

Pugliese has played basketball since he was 5 years old. When he entered middle school, he competed on four different teams.

“My dad always liked basketball. He actually never played but liked the game. My grandfather liked the game also so they signed me up. I started when I was younger and I just enjoyed it, so I continued to sign myself up every single season,” Pugliese said. “I was doing a travel team, an AAU team, the middle school team and a park and recreation team. It was a lot of work.”

 He believes competing on that many teams at one point really helped him with the commitment he has to make at the college level. 

“We start here in August when we get back from summer break, and the season goes until the end of February. So, it is a huge commitment, but playing multiple sports has prepared me for that,” Pugliese said. 

 Pugliese also believes his time in college as a student athlete has prepared him for the real world. 

“Being a student athlete has been a good thing. I like structure. I enjoy having to go to practice and then go to class and vice versa,” Pugliese said. 

 “I am realizing that every day you have to get up and do something even if it has been the fifth day of doing it.”

Looking forward to the six games left in the regular season, Pugliese’s biggest goal is to better the program.

“As far as being a senior and being a captain, it is not about how many points you are going to score. You want to see the program do well after you are gone,” Pugliese said.

He is looking forward to the senior night game on Saturday, Feb. 1 at 3 p.m. Pugliese is also looking forward to competing alongside his teammates for the rest of the season. He is thankful for all the friendships he has made. 

“I don’t know how many guys I have met in my four years here, but I know they are my lifelong brothers,” Pugliese said. “We go through everything together. That has been the best thing for me.”