Sunday, March 18, 2012

then and now

My first rugby team was with American University in 1996.  I was taking some political science classes and a girl, I think her name was Erin, walked into my classroom and asked if anyone wanted to play rugby.  Sure, why not.  After years of cross country and track I was tired of simply running.

The team was in it's debut year and was affiliated with the Maryland Stingers.  We had three coaches: a married front row named Kit Desch and Carmita Signes and a back named Mika Huffington (I think).  Mika was a good looking man and a favorite among the ladies.  As a back, I wasn't exposed to Kit and Carmita as much as Mika but I recall that I really liked Carmita.  She had two long braids down her back and had an invincible spirit.  I have no mementos of my spring playing for that team.  I wish I had but I don't.  I even loaned my jersey to another girl and never got it back.  About ten years later I ran into Carmita at Pumpkinfest in Philly.  I walked up and introduced myself.  She said that she remembered me and I hope that it was the truth.  Like I said, I liked her.

Years later I officially enrolled in university at Texas A&M University and joined their rugby program, run by Craig Coates and Kathryn Nichol.  Those were some of the best times of my life.  I was a wing at the time, speedy although no one would really know it because I had hands like bricks.  I couldn't catch the ball if it was covered in glue.  What can I say?  I only had to complete one successful receipt of a baton in my previous career.  Only in my senior year did I finally learn how to have soft hands. It's amazing what having good hands will do to your confidence.  I suddenly was looking for work on the pitch.  My days at A&M were some of the best of my life.  It was the first time that I had real girlfriends.  Kate's group of rugby girls have gone on to make her proud.  A few of us still play first division rugby but those who have hung up their boots have become coaches and referees.  We had a good mentor.

Texas A&M Rugby, circa 2003-2004

In the ten years since university I have played in Argentina, Italy and now Hong Kong.  I have moved through all the numbers except 10 and 15 (I can't kick).  Where in Texas I was one of the smallest members on the team, in Hong Kong I am one of the biggest.  I have gone from wing to front row.  Each new team, and country, has presented a unique challenge.  I have to absorb new cultures, languages and styles of play.  On top of that, rugby itself has been evolving.  While my body has gotten slower, rugby has gotten faster.  I can only hope that I can evolve at a similar rate to the game; otherwise I'll be left behind.

CWB Hong Kong Rugby, circa 2009-2010

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