Memphis Inner City Rugby (MICR)
In 2015, Michael Deutsch saw a short NPR video featuring Memphis Inner-City Rugby (MICR). He immediately felt a connection to the team — his first job had been a lacrosse coach for a high school team, another sport uncommon in the South. Michael attended the team’s next match and noticed that there weren’t enough jerseys for all of the players. He was impressed that the young coach, Shane Young, was accomplishing so much for the team with practically no money and little support. As Michael sat in the stands watching the match, he decided at that moment that he was going to leverage every contact and connection he had to help this team flourish.
Michael set out to secure corporate partnerships for MICR to ensure every player had a new uniform. Later in 2016, Michael became Board Chairman and ushered in more donations and financial support than all of MICR’s 4 previous years combined. In addition to fundraising, Michael has successfully raised the profile of MICR and rugby more generally through orchestrating various appearances on television, social media outlets and local print. CNN ran a story on MICR over the summer and a short documentary was released on Amazon Prime called Rugby Boys of Memphis. Another documentary is currently being produced by Black Lens Productions that highlights MICR’s female players. These documentaries profile the sport and highlight the grit of Memphis-area rugby players.
Michael’s influence on MICR has been truly transformational and has allowed the organization to expand its capacity to serve under-resourced communities in Memphis. A memorable moment for Michael was filming the Freedom Preparatory Academy’s girls rugby team winning the 2017 Tennessee State High School 7s Championship. He was so proud of the team that he designed, funded and presented each girl with a state championship ring during MICR’s first gala fundraiser.