Rugby players are a little different from other athletes, not only for their craziness, but also for their pure love of their sport.
Rugby is a sport that consumes you. I started playing my junior year of high school after not making the soccer team. Ever since my first practice, I fell in love with the game and now can’t get enough of it.
The 2003 rugby season has been a difficult one, with teams playing wherever they can. First, the city said we could not play on its fields because of the drought, and then we couldn’t play because of the snow. Some students at CSU are proving that weather cannot stop them; they will just go somewhere else to play.
The CSU men’s rugby team has a few guys whose talent has landed them on regional all-star teams.
Winger Sean Kelly, prop Jared Ruscio, flanker Ryan Brost, and inside center Garret Overlee have played on the Eastern Rockies Rugby Football Union All-Star team. Lock/eight-man Cody Van Horn and scrumhalf/flyhalf Travis Mitchell both played for the Western All-Star team. Hooker Kyle Fenton, lock/eight-man Piotr Niemkiewicz, fullback Adam Nance and scrumhalf Tim Guerra are all members of the ERRFU and West teams.
Women rugby all-stars are also prevalent on the CSU campus. While CSU does not have a rugby team, there is a Fort Collins club team on which they play.
One of the most talented players is Danielle DeGarie, who has piled up six years of experience starting in high school and ranging from club teams to the ERRFU and West All-Star teams. DeGarie is another example of being captivated by the game.
“I love the intensity of it. I love pushing myself,” DeGarie said. “My favorite feeling is when you tackle someone or get tackled and you think you might be hurt, but you just get back up and keep going harder than ever.”
Her latest honor came earlier this year when she was selected to attend a camp put on by the United States Eagles, the U.S. National team. DeGarie was one of 60 to be selected in the country and although she did not make the traveling team, she still has a chance.
“One of my goals is to play in the next World Cup,” DeGarie said.
Another standout on the Fort Collins Flash is graduate student and captain Valerie Pferdeort. The seven-year veteran played for four years at John’s Hopkins and has also played on the ERRFU and West sides.
In March, four CSU students – Sarah Grasso, Julia Caldwell, Ashley Lock and myself – traveled to Texas as part of the ERRFU Under-23’s side. I have traveled to Missouri and Wyoming, but this was by far the best trip. After destroying a club team in Dallas 44-0, we then had a match against the Texas Under-23’s and came out with a 10-7 victory.
Grasso, who has played for ERRFU and the West, saw the trip as very beneficial towards her rugby career.
“It was good to compare myself to other players to see where I am at,” Grasso said. “It is really fun to travel with teams and to play against and with different styles of playing and coaching.”
Although rugby is only a club sport for guys at CSU, and girls who wish to play have to play for the club team, there is still a multitude of rugby talent on campus.
They may play a sport that does not receive a lot of recognition in this country, and may be better known for their out-of-control parties after the games, but their love for their sport runs deeper than most people will ever understand.
I have broken my nose, had more bumps and bruises than I can count, and am currently sidelined because of a strained elbow.
But I can’t wait to get back out there.
Joelle is a sophomore journalism major.