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Or, read my most recent post below:
PART 1: THE GAME
We had not lost a game in over two years. I couldn’t even remember what it felt like to stand and wait, hopelessly, beside my teammates as the other team’s kicker easily puts the ball between the posts. I couldn’t remember what it felt like to be angry at my teammates, to be angry at myself. Two undefeated seasons had left us desensitized. We may have even questioned whether anyone could beat us anymore.
We remembered everything about losing when we played Penn State for the D1 Collegiate National Championship. Waking up, after the game of our lives against
Stanford, we were bruised, battered and sore. The win hadn’t come easily. The game was scheduled for that afternoon, and we spent most of the morning wringing out the previous day’s work from our bodies. A few of us had glanced at the game that Penn State had played the day before against Navy . It was hardly the battle we would face on the pitch.
I’ve blocked most of the game from my immediate memories, as many do after an unpleasant experience. What I do recall vividly is my inability to mentally respond as I was being physically demolished. I suppose that sounds dramatic. But, it truly felt like this as we played out the game we had looked forward to the nine months prior. We didn’t play terribly, quite the opposite. This team was one second quicker, hit the tiniest bit harder than we were able to manage. In the end it made all the difference.
We held our heads high and accepted 2nd place. We shook our opponents hands, and in that small moment tried to convey true respect, heartfelt recognition. They had beat us when we had given them everything we had.
PART 2: COLLEGIATE ALL-AMERICANS
Th Collegiate All-American Team hosts several camps inviting a selection from the current pool of women playing college rugby. This team plays in several elite games and goes on international tours representing the United States. This year’s tour was planned for France (want to help us fundraise? Click here!) Several of our alumni and teammates had been asked to participate, maybe two or three each year since its inception. This year we had six members asked to the first camp, a true honor and recognition to our school’s ever-improving program. I was included in this group.
The camp took place in two sections across the country, one east in Virginia and one west in California. This was the first of three camps, each one invite-only and each one dwindling down from the initial invite of 140. The first camp I and my teammates attended was the East camp at James Madison University in Virginia. Set in gorgeous mountains and sunny days, it was some of these days to play some rugby.
We were taught options and new ways of looking at the style of playing rugby that most of us were unaccustomed to. We were given opportunities to explore what we may have been inadequate and promote what we excelled in. Overall, it was a fun and exciting weekend.
My favorite part remains in the events off the pitch. The sport of rugby inexplicably gathers every person who has ever played into a beloved group. The connection that these men and women experience is, honestly, incomparable. Similar enough to any niche group, yet it’s not often that you find a group of female friends who love a black eye as much as you do. The companionship that we all experienced at these elite camps, during in season games, and at any social following the games it was makes rugby a sport that most Americans have never experienced (but really should!)
Even though we lost to Penn State, weeks later we walked on the pitch side by side, ready to lay our bodies down for each other. And even though we lost, we still had this. The simple connection that every rugger embraces.
Next month, find out if my teammates and I made the cut for the next round of Collegiate All-American Camps, and read how our team is prepping for next year’s redemption.