I entered college as a Broadcast Journalism major; I didn’t want to be a weather girl or an entertainment correspondent, though. Instead, I had my heart being set on being a rugby broadcaster. As an actor my whole life, I thrived on the energy that came from being “on stage” and what better way to spread rugby than to be actively involved with it in the media?
After a year of college, I took a class with a great professor (What’s up Professor Puente?!) who got me hooked on Sports Marketing. I liked the communications/PR aspect of it, and made the decision to change my major in hopes of widening my horizons. The entertainment industry is cutthroat, and I didn’t think I had the right “look” to be on T.V. But that story’s for another day…:) I never regretted changing my major, but I did miss the idea of being in front of the camera.
I had an incredible opportunity to help with the broadcast at the Americas Pro Rugby Championships in Austin, Texas this weekend, and, to say the least, it was a dream come true. I owe the opportunity to the incredible Dallen Stanford, who I met about eight years ago when he was an Eagle. He’s started many rugby organizations, non-profits, and has been the face of USA Rugby corresponding with Brian Vizard. I’ve always joked to Dallen that I wanted to be him when I “grew up”, and even in my mid-20’s, the notion stands true. Dallen has been a mentor of mine since I met him years ago, and I feel so grateful to have him as a friend. Not only is he a great rugby player, he’s also a fantastic advocate for our sport in general. Dallen was doing commentary for the Americas Pro Rugby Championship game, and I was invited to be a part of the process. I jumped on the opportunity, booked my last-minute ticket, and two days later, I was on my way to Texas!
I arrived at the field, Dell Diamond in Round Rock Saturday afternoon. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect about playing at an awkwardly shaped baseball field, but apparently the field was a tiny bit smaller, which was granted by USA Rugby. The grounds were clean and gorgeous! I was greeted by an enthusiastic bunch of techies who helped me settle into the massive semi-truck. I never imagined that the atmosphere would be so methodically chaotic. And I mean that in the best way possible. So much was going on, but everything ran like a well-oiled machine, under the direction of Mathew and Patrick. The conductors of the editing process, they were cool and collected. Live broadcasting has a lot riding on it, so it’s important to be consistent, attentive, and very detail-oriented.
I helped run stats from possession to lineouts won/lost, scrums won/lost, turnovers, penalties, missed tackles, etc. Nothing makes you watch a rugby game more intently than running stats! I learned a ton about live editing, the possible errors that could occur, the importance of fact checking, and framing the feeling. One of my favorite lines was Mathew asking the cameraman to really get into Niku Kruger’s eyes when he kicked. Nothing like the passion of a true rugby player. Goes to show good camera work makes all the difference.
It was great seeing so many familiar faces playing in the match, which always makes my heart warm. I love the tight-knit community we’ve built here in the states. USA went on to win the match against Canada, mostly due to some great rolling mauls, footwork from Luke Hume, and a killer hat trick from Todd Clever! Talk about a great comeback to the American rugby scene, eh?
The MJAA match v. Canada was a real nailbiter. Ben Cima was able to put points on the board for the United States with his lucky kicking foot. There were some great runs from both sides, and the match was essentially a 50/50 possession battle. Ben’s 55 meter kick to seal the deal in the final minute was one that I’ll never forget; all of the broadcasters in the truck weren’t confident he’d attempt to go for posts, but he did it. It was INCREDIBLE! I’ve heard far too many people complain about the clip being far from exemplary, and for them I have a few words about that:
Ben managed to keep himself cool and collected. The kick was not close by any means. It was done in the final play of the game. The pressure was on. He’s under 20 years old and managed to nail the kick. The kick definitely should be celebrated!
Overall, the experience is one that I will forever hold near and dear. Thank you to Dallen for making this whole adventure possible, and thank you to Mathew and Patrick for being so kind and helpful. I can’t wait to be involved in another game in the future!
My weekend, to say the least, was packed with rugby. Between rugby dinners and holiday parties, I’m sure I only got a few hours of sleep. The weekend was topped off by a very successful So Cal Girls Rugby Camp. The camp, which has been going on for several years, hosts girls from all over Southern California. This year’s guest coach was Billy Nicholas, head coach of Lindenwood University. I was so excited to be a part of the coaching staff and work alongside Billy, who is also involved with the ARPTC, Atlantis 7’s, and is a USA Rugby Pathway Scout. It was a great reminder that even as a coach I have so much to learn. It’s always a blessing working with mentors, and just as my career in education has shown me, nothing beats hands-on experience. The day began with several 7’s-oriented drills, and culminated with a 12-aside scrimmage. Not only was it wonderful to see the talent, but also the potential so many new girls possess. (And did I mention the weather topped out at about 65 degrees? Definitely not complaining!) I’m excited for season to start and to put our new skills into play! Here’s to many more weekends filled to the brim with rugby! Wouldn’t have it any other way.
Thank you for showing me how to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat.
Thank you for teaching me the importance of taking care of my body, mind, and soul.
Thank you for having the same rules for men and women, unlike other sports.
Thank you or letting me travel the nation and the world in your name.
Thank you for giving dedicated, hardworking players of all shapes and sizes the chance to participate. From props to wings, there’s a place for you.
Thank you for the bumps, bruises, scars, and all the stories that come with them.
Thank you for the most inclusive culture I’ve ever seen among the many sports I’ve played.
Thank you for teaching me the value of sportsmanship.
Thank you for giving me the chance to coach with my dad. Who else gets to do that?!
Thank you for providing children with positive role models.
Thank you for being a powerful force in equality in sports for all, regardless of age, gender, or country of origin.
Thank you for teaching me the importance of a post-game cheer and tunnel.
Thank you for promoting brain health and the importance of concussion recognition/treatment from youth to adults. Too many sports avoid the topic, and our heads matter!
Thank you for working hard to level the playing field for females.
Thank you for being the perfect mix of speed, strength, and smarts.
Thank you for (hopefully) leaving the scrum cadence without anymore changes. RIP “Crouch, Pause, Engage”…
Thank you for giving children the joy of running down the field with a ball in hand. Nothing will ever beat the smile of a child who just found rugby.
Thank you for introducing me to some of my favorite people.
Thank you for hosting the biggest, most exciting party ever, aka the iRB 7’s, for months straight.
Thank you for giving me the world’s best “natural high”: an eight man pick off the side of a scrum.
Thank you for showing me that I will have a rugby family no matter where I go.
Thank you for proving that girls can be bad asses, just like boys.
Thank you for finding your way back into the Olympics.
Thank you for making me understand that my “peak” is always around the corner. Keep pushing. Keep trying. Keep working.
Thank you for teaching me discipline.
Thank you for challenging me mentally and physically, like nothing ever has before.
Thank you for leading me in the direction of gel manicures. After all, how long does normal nail polish really last in a game?
Thank you for giving me the chance to coach the most wonderful set of girls I’ve ever met. My Lady Lions and Titans are intelligent, dedicated, devoted, and so very talented.
Thank you for being my outlet for stress. I’ve saved a lot on psychologists, I’m sure.
Thank you for teaching me songs that I will never, ever repeat in front of my parents.
Thank you for opening doors for my dream career.
Thank you for letting females break stereotypes of women athletes. It’s more about how we perform, and less about what we wear.
Thank you for offering more and more scholarships to high school students in the U.S.
Thank you for teaching me the how to be a leader, a follower, and when to be each.
Thank you for scrum caps. Ears are quite precious to my poor, poor locks.
Thank you for all the opportunities I’ve had to learn from some of the greatest coaches in the nation.
Thank you for proving that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.
Thank you for providing me with a safe space.
Thank you for being the fastest growing sport in the nation.
Thank you for giving me courage to speak up about equality in women’s sports.
Thank you for implementing rules and regulations that keep players safe on the field.
P.S. Thanks William Webb Ellis for being a rebel. I am so grateful.