Baron Athletics

Athletics Overview – Summer 2023

Franciscan Magazine Homepage > Summer 2023 > Athletics Overview – Summer 2023

Baron Athletics

Athletics Overview – Summer 2023

The latest in Franciscan sports.

Summer 2023

In This Article

John Thibault’s High Road to Excellence

“I was watching one play in particular,” recalls Father Brian Cavanaugh, TOR ’69, a Franciscan University athletics chaplain. “There were five guys between him and the tri zone. He created a gap, made a cut, and scored. Nobody touched him. I thought, That’s just pure magic. You can’t coach that.”

The rugby player Father Cavanaugh watched that day was Franciscan senior John Thibault, two-time Allegheny Rugby Union (ARU) Player of the Year, two-time ARU AllConference team, and two-time National Collegiate Rugby (NCR) All-American. That last honor is reserved for the “best of the best.” Thibault is only the fourth Franciscan rugby player in school history to earn it.

Incredibly, Thibault picked up a rugby ball for the first time in the fall of 2021.

Baron rugby star John Thibault sprints past opposing players.

Baron rugby star John Thibault sprints past opposing players.

“I decided with my older brother Peter and some friends to play one semester of rugby and have fun with it,” says Thibault. “I loved it. I’m really grateful for my coach and all the other guys on the team who taught us the game. We excelled quickly because of their leadership. It’s been awesome.”

According to Jason Adams, head rugby coach, Thibault is a patient, courteous, natural leader and quickly became the team’s offensive and defensive focal point, dominating the scoreboard with 28 scores in 23 matches and 15 scores in 9 crucial playoff matches in his two-year career.

“He strives to get better every week and expects the best of himself and his teammates,” says Adams. “His integrity is unquestionable. He could have had a lot more scores against inferior opponents to pad his stats, but he often assisted other players who would then score those tries. He is a humble player and plays with a dignity that highlights his Christian values and with ideals that embrace what it means to be a Franciscan Baron.”

A biology major with plans for med school, Thibault’s humble approach to achieving excellence isn’t limited to rugby. Last year, he was a Scholastic All-American, and he maintains a 4.0 GPA.

John Thibault

John Thibault

For Thibault, however, his number one priority remains his faith. He gave up the chance to play college football when he chose to focus on his studies and his faith and come to Franciscan, following in the footsteps of his father, David Thibault ’94, and three older siblings, Andrew ’19, Rebekah ’20, and Peter.

“I love that everybody here is on the same page in terms of the faith,” he says. “We’re all pushing each other to get better through our relationship with God and incorporate that into everything we do, whether it’s sports or school or extracurricular activities. That’s pretty amazing.”

Thibault plans to play again next fall. After that, his focus will shift to med school.

“He’s one of those guys that you see and say, ‘Wow, we’re fortunate to have him here’,” Father Cavanaugh concludes.


High Fives

  • Franciscan women’s sports ranked fifth in the PAC All-Sports Trophy race at the completion of winter sports. The men’s programs ranked seventh out of 11 full-time member schools.
  • Men’s Indoor Track & Field placed fourth at the PAC Indoor Track & Field Championships in February. Miguel Daez led the way, earning gold medals in the 3000m and 5000m races. David Cappello earned an All-Great Lakes Region distinction for having one of the top five fastest times in the 800m this indoor season.
  • Women’s Indoor Track & Field placed eighth at the PAC Indoor Track & Field Championships. Clara Symington grabbed a silver medal in the 400m, while Claire Walters (3000m) and Jessica Campbell (800m) came home with bronze medals.
  • Colton Hage of men’s basketball was named Academic All-District by College Sports Communicators (CSC). Madison Doan, Jazzlyn Melnyk, and Felicia MacGillivray of women’s basketball represented Franciscan women’s basketball on the Academic All-District Team.
  • Finnegan Fieldhouse’s new floor was installed with a new court design. The first game on the new court was December 10, as men’s basketball took down Pittsburgh-Greensburg by a score of 93-82.


Student-Athlete Spotlight

Jax Mautone

Jax Mautone

Name: Jax Mautone

Hometown: Kingston, New York

Major: Mental Health Counseling

Sports: Men’s Soccer

Team Position: Goalkeeper

Honors: Three-time PAC Defensive Player of the Week; two-time PAC Honorable Mention

On Soccer: “Playing men’s soccer here at Franciscan has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. It is rare to have the opportunity to play the sport you love in a place that fosters a mind, body, spirit mentality with people striving for the same things as you.”

Career Goal: To open a private practice as a mental health counselor

Favorite Saint: St. John Paul II

Jax Mautone

Jax Mautone

Go to Top