Lakewood Girls Rugby

Lakewood Girls' Rugby

One day in the spring of 1999, our daughter came home with a big smile and was full of excitement. A group of her friends were going to start a girls' rugby club at Lakewood High School. There were two recent graduates of Kent State University, Amy and Terra, who volunteered to coach. Our initial reaction was one of concern -- wasn't rugby a really rough boys sport? No protective pads and burly guys with their ears ripped off. Not to mentions positions like Scrum Half and Hookers. This was our sweet little girl talking about playing a rough sport that we knew nothing about. Weren't sports like swimming, skiing and tennis enough? We had just finished paying for braces and were hoping she would graduate with all her teeth intact. We wondered how this sport appealed to high school girls. It seems they were all very excited about the prospect of participating in a full contact sport. It is hard to imagine, but apparently this conversation was going on in homes throughout Lakewood. Apparently the other Lakewood girls were as persistent as ours and the first Lakewood's Girls' Rugby team was born. The initial team consisted of approximately twenty girls, including Amy Carpenter, Kate Haber, Savannah Farris, Rozi and Gabi Smith, Molly Doyle, Magda Margulies, Colleen and Kate Sullivan and Mallory Carlson.

The first challenge the girls faced was to learn the rules. Few if any had ever watched, let alone played, a rugby game. The coaches had quite an uphill battle. After getting the basic rules down, the girls wanted to try their skills. But who could they play? There weren't any other high school girls' rugby teams in the area. They started by scrimmaging St. Ed's boys rugby team in a "touch" instead of "tackling" manner. This greatly helped them with the concept of the sport, but left them itching for the chance to really tackle someone. A women's rugby team in Ashland, Ohio, composed of Ashland College graduates and students, offered to play the girls. This was a great opportunity to learn the game. During their game, the Ashland women would shout out pointers like "hit me lower" and "Pass it". Sometimes the referee would have to stop the action (a rare event in a normal rugby game) to have a teaching moment and explain more about the flow of the game and what caused penalties. By the end, all the players were covered in mud and grinning ear to ear. A friendly hand shake ended a wonderful first game. The next day revealed many bruises that were proudly displayed as badges of honor. Who would be next? The girls continued to practice regularly and had several more scrimmages with other area teams including Oberlin College Women's Rugby team and Kent State Women's team. The season concluded with a tournament in Indiana with other high school rugby teams. They did a great job at the tournament and Lakewood High Girls' Rugby Club ended the year excited about the future. Who knew that less than six years later, the Lakewood High School Girls' Rugby team would go on to win at the state and national levels? To find out more about this amazing team, go to their web site at:
http://www.lhsgirlsrugby.com

Some of these girls have adopted rugby as a life-long sport. One of the stars of that initial team was Amy Carpenter who is now the President of the Iron Maidens, the west side Adult Women's Rugby team (See: http://www.maidensrugby.com/newplayinfo.htm for more information). The Iron Maidens were formed in 2001 and for the last 2 years have been coached by Kurt Weaver, who played rugby at Bowling Green University. The Iron Maidens play three seasons a year: the fall, which is mostly league play with teams in Detroit, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Rochester, and tournament play in the spring and summer seasons.

This year the Iron Maidens are joining with some members of the Columbus Rugby team to once again play in Europe under the name of the Puddle Jumpers and Amy will be joining them. Two years ago in Brussels, this team tied for first place. This year they will be playing in Italy, Switzerland and Germany and are looking for sponsorship.

The Iron Maidens have a close relationship with the Lakewood High School Girls' Rugby team and they try to attend their games and fundraisers. They offered to scrimmage the High School team so that they can benefit from the women's experience. The Iron Maidens are always looking for new members. The only requirements are the will to have fun and work hard. Maidens Rugby takes ladies of all ages and all skill levels. They will teach the skills needed to succeed on the rugby field. If you have never played, the Iron Maidens encourage you to come and watch or jump right in. Practices are Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in Lakewood Park. For more information contact .

(2 photos - 1 from original team - 1 from Iron Maidens
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Volume 2, Issue 6, Posted 1:01 PM, 03.11.06