By KRISTEN CAMP
Kennesaw State University’s Women’s Rugby Club president Caitlin Hensley plans to lead her team to tackle a regional title this season as the club becomes one of the newest members of the South Independent Rugby Conference.
Since Hensley joined the team in 2011, the KSU women’s rugby team won first place in Battleship, its annual tournament, in 2011 and second place in 2012. The team had successful seasons in the spring seasons prior to 2011, known as the matrix, and in the fall season, known as fallball. However, even though the team beat nearly every opponent during the regular seasons, it was not able to clench a tournament title.
“I’m a little OCD so my organization and my timely habits have helped the team get back on track in terms of turning things in on time, organizing practices, performing workouts and just overall structure,” said Hensley. “But I could not have accomplished anything without the help from my fellow officers. They’re the main reason this team is where it’s at.”
Along with helping bring her team success, Hensley wants to continue to encourage the camaraderie that comes with being on a rugby team.
“My favorite part of rugby is the camaraderie of the sport. The rugby culture has it instilled that after a match, the two teams socialize at a local bar and grill to mend ties and continue good standings for the future. What happens on the field stays on the field, and that opens the gates for friendships between teams, players and coaches,” said Hensley.
This type of amity has allowed Hensley and her teammates to form friendships with many other athletes from teams in their new conference, such as the University of North Georgia, the Emory University, the University of Alabama and Life University. It is also common for teams to call players from other clubs to substitute for them if they are short on players.
“The connection you make with other teams if my favorite part of rugby. It’s the main thing that makes it so different from any other sport or competition,” said Carly D’Allen, who has been playing for KSU’s women’s rugby team for the past year.
While the team connections are such a big part of rugby, so are the physical demands of playing the sport. One of the biggest challenges for the team to overcome as a whole has been the physicality.
“The sport as a whole is interesting due to the physical strains and the fact that people are willing to put themselves through that,” said Amber Meaker, a member of the team since the fall of 2013. “Sometimes during a game I think to myself ‘What the hell is wrong with us?’”
D’Allen said, “Rugby really is a ‘team sport’ because you physically have to morph your bodies together to do well as a team.”
Hensley, along with a few of her teammates, are hesitating when considering furthering their rugby careers after college due to repetitive injuries. But some of the girls are looking into playing Rugby 7’s, a version of rugby that requires fewer players on the field and has less impact.
However, Hensley is just hoping to improve her team as a whole in the here and now.
“I want to enjoy playing the sport while I can. I’m so passionate about rugby, so I want to do everything I can while I still have the ability to play to win for my team and for my school,” Hensley said.
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