Laddie Stribling’s childhood was basically the same as most kids. He was always a competitive kid and always liked a challenge. He remembers early on testing a brand new pair of running shoes, climbing as high in a tree as he could go, testing his accuracy throwing rocks. The basics? He had no idea at the time where to go, he was just…going. At the age of 12, Laddie joined a swim team but actually was not as good as the other “fish‟, which had a jump start on him. However, he soon learned and at age 17 was the senior boys swimming champ. In high school, Laddie was on the swimming team, and was fair; not particularly great, but it kept him in good shape.
Laddie grew up in Albuquerque, actually it was not far from the Gorham family. Saturday was “park football‟ day at Gorham park. The “catch!,” clean the Gorham yard then play football. These were great times, very competitive. He was always smaller than most kids, but it didn’t bother him much. It helped him minimized pain when tackling the big guys. On one occasion, going long for a pass, he looked over his shoulder and caught the pass, only to turn and ran full throttle into a huge tree, face first. Laddie came out ok, but thought that may have taught him a lesson that later on helped him in rugby. Always tackle low.
Years later, Laddie, a 22 yr old student at UNM, was mowing his mother‟s lawn when Tim Gorham drove up, approached Ladd and said, “Ladd, I have a new game for you, I think you‟re gonna like it”. Long story short, Ladd asked, “what is it.” Tim said “rugby!” Laddie had never heard of it but said, “Ok.” The rest is history. They went up to UNM field to be introduced to a guy named Ray Marone. Davy Herring was there on the field, so what could be better than playing with good friends. After a few weeks of running around, he remembers Ray, putting him in at hooker for his 1st game. It was a learning experience for sure. All he remembers was running and running, and tackling, and Papa Vark screaming at him for some unknown stupid reason.
Laddie lived for rugby and the Aardvarks who were a great part at that time in his life. From the beginning they stuck together and began to recruit great players knowing they were building something that was going to make its mark. The great rivalries were the Highlanders, Barbari- ans, Harlequins and of course the Bees.
Laddie fondly remembers playing some great matches against Aspen, Austin, Park City, Okla- homa and playing on a pasture in Telluride, where the sideline marker was a barbed wire fence. His greatest moment was winning the 1975 Western 7’s championship with a team including Hal Hames, Ed O’connor “Fast Eddie”, Mike Stewart, Tim Gorham, Dave Herring, Rick Zerbe,