Above: Mark Bingham; Alice Hoaglan awards The Bingham Cup trophy.
Every September 11, the Fog pauses to remember Mark Bingham, our friend and an early member of the San Francisco Fog.
Mark was a successful public relations executive who’d played rugby for the perennial national champions, UC Berkeley. The Fog, by contrast, was a newly formed club that hoped to join the competitive Northern California Rugby Football Union (NCRFU) as its first team geared primarily toward gay men and men of color.
We were mostly complete novices to the game, and our training sessions were horribly remedial, but Mark started showing up anyway. He coached, cajoled, and crashed through our practices, and played No. 8 in our first two friendly matches and in our first tournament (where he promptly dislocated his shoulder). He taught us his favorite rugby songs and made us feel like we were part of something bigger than ourselves. That was early 2001.
Over the summer the Fog did gain entry into the NCRFU. Mark, traveling in Europe, let us know how proud he was of the club’s achievement. He also told us what it meant for him to be part of a rugby team comprised entirely of gay men: “As we worked and sweated and ran and talked together this year, I finally felt accepted as a gay man and a rugby player. My two irreconcilable worlds came together.”
Mark never got another opportunity to play for the Fog. He was aboard United flight 93 when it crashed in rural Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.
This Friday we will gather once again to remember Mark and the many gifts he brought to our young club. And as always, we will honor his mother, Alice Hoagland, too. A tireless supporter of Fog Rugby and of the international gay rugby movement, Hoagland can usually be seen cheering on teams from all over the world at the biennial Bingham Cup tournament, established by the Fog in 2002 in her son’s memory.
For the full text of Mark Bingham’s final email to the Fog, see our About page.