Women’s rugby empowers teammates on, off the pitch

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The rugby pitch is one place on campus where women at Occidental can push their bodies and minds to the limit. While their 1-5 record may not reflect a successful season, the players still feel like winners.

“Rugby is really empowering … Like when you take down someone who is a lot bigger than you, it’s just a huge rush,” Marlys Larson (senior) said.

The physical nature of the game helps players build confidence both on and off the field.

“I love kickin’ ass and takin’ names,” Jennifer Miller (senior) said.

Miller isn’t alone in her enjoyment. Bryanna Buchanan (senior), the current president of the team, enjoys the diverse space the women’s rugby team provides and believes the accepting nature of the club is further strengthened by the diversity of ages and identities on the team.

“As a group of diverse women with varying interests, rugby has been a wonderful space to embrace each other in difference,” Buchanan said. “As a team, I think we’ve accomplished the creation of an empowering space where all feel comfortable and welcomed.”

Part of the team’s success in creating this safe space can be attributed to the their little-big system. According to Michelle Dibattiste (Senior), each underclassmen is paired up with an upperclassmen, or big, who acts as a mentor and role model for them during their first year on the team.

“I remember all the upperclassman playing a huge role in making Oxy home and a space that I can grow in, so its really exciting to be able to do that for our own littles now that we’re the upperclassmen,” Dibattiste said.

The team welcomes students with any level of experience. D’angela Pritchett-Rowe (first-year) had never played rugby before joining last year but was looking for a sport to play in college.

“I saw the team in the quad during the activity fair so I decided to try it,” Pritchett-Rowe said. “[Jason Lewis] and [Maggie Cooper-Harris] are great coaches and women’s rugby is the best community I’ve ever been a part of.”

Pritchett-Rowe’s sentiments are echoed by other players, who take pride in their team despite a losing record.

“We might not win every game during regulation play, but we always win the third half,” Liza Comart (senior) said.

During the “third half,” which occurs after every match, the opposing teams come together to sing songs and celebrate the hard work both sides put in on the pitch. The women on the team enjoy being the loudest and most rambunctious in the social aspect of the sport, according to Miller. Now, they are looking to match that success on the field.

“Our next step is to start winning more games,” Comart said. “We always have a great time playing Claremont since we beat them in every aspect of the game, but we want to extend our win streak past this one game.”

With two games left—one against California State North Ridge and the other against Claremont—the women’s rugby team looks to end their season on a positive note with wins in all aspects of the game.