2021 Candidate profiles
Chairman: Robert Balmer
Robert Balmer started rugby at the Citadel Military Academy in 1986, though transferred to the University of South Carolina a year later for the remainder of his undergrad. Balmer played 8 Man all three years at South Carolina, even serving as the Team captain from 88-89. Following his years at USC, Balmer continued playing off and on as his scheduled permitted with Columbia Olde Grey as recently as 2013. Balmer currently works as a Financial Professional at Creative Financial Strategies. He has 21 years experience in financial services and insurance. Balmer has been married to his wife Penny for 19 years and has one son, Joshua age 14, and one daughter, Kathleen age 10, who are both hom-schooled by Penny. They reside in Columbia,
Vice Chair: Jeffery Smolka
A native of Greenville, South Carolina, Jeff Smolka is a member of the 84’-88’ Carolina Rugby team, serving as a captain, player, and coach. Smolka represented South Carolina as a Palmetto Collegiate All-State from 85'-88' and as a Collegiate All-South from 87'-88'. While completing his Master's program from 88'-90', Smolka began playing for the Columbia Olde Grey men's side while serving on the South Carolina coaching staff.
During the late 90's and early 2000's, Smolka returned to coaching following four years playing with the Greenville Griffins and served as South Carolina's assistant coach and head coach multiple times during several transitional phases for the program. In 2001, Smolka joined the Carolina-Clemson Blood Drive Leadership Committee to expand the Team's involvement with the annual event. That same year, Smolka began working regionally with USA Rugby South as the South Collegiate Director (01'-07') and as the South Vice President (02'-07') while also joining the National Office as a Member of the Board of Directors (02'-06'), a member of the Congress (06'-08'), and as the Chairman of USA Rugby's Rugby Committee in 2007, a position he currently holds to this day.
In 2007, Smolka founded the South Carolina High School Rugby League and served as its Commissioner the first three seasons. In 2011, Smolka was appointed to the position of Events Chair for the Southeastern Collegiate Rugby Conference, a position he currently holds to this day. Elected to the Carolina Rugby Foundation Board in February of 2014, Smolka has already made waves by establishing the Carolina Men's Rugby Endowment Fund to ensure long-term sustainable growth for the Carolina Rugby program.
Following his early involvement with the Carolina-Clemson Blood Drive, Smolka has since received recognition for his 12 years of service and leadership with the campaign.
Vice Chair: John Hinks
John Hinks Jr started his playing career at the University of South Carolina in 1997 and played through 2000. He continued his career in rugby playing for the Columbia Rugby Club. In 2003 and 2004 he went overseas and played for the Zingari Richmond Rugby Club in Dunedin, New Zealand. Upon his return, he decided to come back home and play for his home team Columbia Rugby.
During his time for Columbia Rugby, he was an integral part in hosting two National USA Rugby Tournaments. He also was an active member on the Columbia Rugby Board where he served as Vice President. He was also Captain for the Columbia Rugby for 7 seasons where he played a part in leading the club to two Matrix Division Championships and several South Playoff Runs. John’s strongest claim was his ability to grow Columbia Rugby to 76 Active Paying Members and two full sides playing in two Playoff games in two separate locations.
John resides in Lugoff, SC and his company is located in downtown Columbia. John is a Co-Branch Manager for Lending Path, a local Mortgage Company. Lending Path is serving 7 states with 20 loan officers and a staff of 49 Employees. John is married to Britt who works at Lexington Medical and is the father of three children, Jack (12 years old), Lucy (8 years old), and Eleanor (1 year old).
John has been an integral part in the growth and creation of Camp Cole (campcole.org). A facility specifically designed for children, teens, adults facing serious illnesses and other physical, mental, and amotional health and life challenges. It is a full accessible camp and retreat facility located just outside Columbia, SC. John has also been a 19 year volunteer for Camp Kemo and is a founding member of S.C.O.R.E., a non profit organization to support Outdoor Activities for underprivileged youth.
Secretary: Eric Geib
Erik Geib (‘08), known as ‘Tex’ in USC circles, began his rugby journey at Plano Senior High School before playing for the University of South Carolina from Fall 2003 through Fall 2007. In his time with the program, Erik served as both Club President & Club Treasurer and was selected to play for the Palmetto Collegiate All-Stars in 2005 & 2007. Erik also represented USA Rugby South against The Bahamas National Team in September 2005. Without hesitation, however, Erik will state that rebuilding the program from 11 guys in the final match his freshman year to having over 100 men and three sides in the club when he graduated was his greatest accomplishment. Additionally, Erik’s final match was the program’s first defeat of Clemson in over 15 years. During his time in Columbia, Erik also assisted Jeff Smolka in beginning the first state governing body for high school rugby in South Carolina.
After leaving USC, Erik won a Men’s Club Division 1 National Championship with the Glendale Raptors and began a career as a professional rugby administrator. Erik served USA Rugby from 2011-2018, where he was the interim COO (2017-2018), Senior Club Dept. Manager (2014-2018), National Championship Series Manager (2012-2014), and Membership Services Coordinator (2011-2018). In his time with USA Rugby, Erik also served on the first-ever U.S. Professional Game Board, was the Competition Manager for the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco, developed USA Rugby’s Competition Management System, and worked over 100 domestic and international events.
Today, Erik resides in Denver, Colorado with his wife and daughter, where he owns a sport management consulting firm and serves as the Competition Manager for the National Intercollegiate Rugby Association (NIRA) – the body which oversees the women’s varsity initiative for rugby in the United States.
Treasurer: Micah Stewart
Micah Stewart began playing rugby at the age of 7 years old when his family moved to Southampton, England. He played through his High School career where he was chosen for numerous SC Select teams, trained with EIRA (Eagle Impact Rugby Academy) teams, and was invited to the USA Top 50 Team his senior year. At USC, Micah captained the 1st XV and 7s team’s from 2016-2019 during which they won several division titles, three-peated as 7’s conference champions, and won invites to CRC’s three years in a row. During that tenure, he also worked with Alumni to organize a season opener event at Fort Jackson that is now moving into it’s fourth year running, turning into a valuable tradition.
Micah now lives nearby in Charlotte, North Carolina as he works diligently as a Project Manager for Driven Brands. He is still a die hard rugby fan keeping up with all realms of the sport both locally and globally. He was recently asked to join the USA Wheelchair Rugby League team as a rugby specialist, and is currently competing for a spot for the 2019 World Cup squad set to compete late this year.
Sergeant at Arms: Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy played for USC Rugby from 1987-1991. He was President, Captain and player/coach during his tenure and was successful in establishing a close relationship with the university. Chris was named to the SC Select squad from ’88-91 and represented USC on the All South team on two separate occasions. Since graduating from USC in 1991, he has established a successful career in helping build several high growth global software companies. Chris is married and has 3 children. He lives outside of Atlanta and also spends as much time as possible in Folly Beach, SC.