Shared motivation makes South women’s rugby team successful

Members of the South rugby team goofing around and having fun at a recent practice. One of the aspects that makes the team unique is its strong teamwork and positive attitude of the entire team. “We’re all happy to be playing rugby together,” junior Scout Peterson stated, “you don’t have to worry about being judged or put down by anyone. It’s a good atmosphere.”

Members of the South rugby team goofing around and having fun at a recent practice. One of the aspects that makes the team unique is its strong teamwork and positive attitude of the entire team. “We’re all happy to be playing rugby together,” junior Scout Peterson stated, “you don’t have to worry about being judged or put down by anyone. It’s a good atmosphere.”

Maddie Colbert, Staff Writer

Freshman Ellie Brown has spent years watching rugby. Her sisters both played the sport, and Brown has grown up with love of rugby. “I’ve been watching it forever, and I’ve been really excited to play!” With rugby season starting, Brown’s long wait is over.

As rugby spreads from Europe to the United States, high school teams are growing. For South’s team, there is sense of excitement in the players. “Its such a ‘new’ sport here in the United States that most kids are trying it and starting it in high school for the first time,” said coach Jamie Zarembinski.

Rugby at South stared in about 1997. Tamara Cowan, who was a student teacher, took over the team in 1998,until 2003. Over the years, Cowan found that the team became more and more athletic. “There were many more cross-over athletes that found sports like soccer, or basketball,” said Cowan. Zarembinski, who coaches the team now, used to be coached by Cowan.

This is Zarembinski’s first year coaching for South. She has been playing rugby for seven years, and after a year of reffing, she lept at the opportunity to coach a high school team. She has big goals for the team, but they are all based on a simple value.

“My specific goals for new players is to fall in love with the sport,” said Zarembinski. She hopes that returning players too will continue with their love of the game, and spread the word that rugby is a fun sport that anyone can play.

“In the end the goals of any sport in a season is to win, but for this year its important that goals are something bigger than winning that big title. It’s about being competitive, and leaving everything you have on the field. It’s about supporting your teammates on and off the field, being one cohesive unit, and playing with heart,” said Zarembinski.

Heart is not something that the South Rugby team lacks. Even spending ten minutes watching a practice, the passion of the team is almost tangible.

“We’re a really close-knit team,” said Brown. Sophomore Amirah Ellison agrees. “It has a vibe to it. A community aspect. Even though we’re tough on the field, we always get together off the field. We actually become friends with everyone.”

The dynamic of the team is like nothing Zarembinski’s ever seen before. The team has a unique sense of focus, and is very willing to learn.

“I honestly think it is the love of the game that is why so many rugby teams have such a great feel of togetherness that you just don’t see rivaled in any other sport,” said Zarembinski. “They know it is a hard sport to play, but they all know that and they love it, so nothing is going to stop them from playing.”

“We’re all happy to be playing rugby together,” said junior Scout Peterson, “you don’t have to worry about being judged or put down by anyone. It’s a good atmosphere.”

An aspect that is different for rugby is that many girls have never played before high school. “[Coach Zarembinski] does a good job of starting with the basics,” said Brown, “the hardest part is learning the ‘actual’ game. It’s like every sport mixed together!”

Another aspect that sets the rugby team apart is that it’s a club team, meaning it’s not funded by South. “Money’s always a issue,” Peterson. The team raises money by having jersey auctions, fundraisers at restaurants, and asks often for donations from friends and family members. “We always seem to get by,” said Peterson.

Zarembinski finds an immense amount of potential in the team.

“The heart and soul of this team is the juniors and seniors and returners currently on the team. They have such a passion for the the sport and the team and they work so hard for it to succeed,” said Zarembinski, “I think that is how I know there will be potential for the team in later years, because new players come in and see that, and they too start to understand the hard work and the heart that goes into South Rugby.”