That Is So Unlike Me: Joining the Women’s Rugby Team

I’m a pacifist at heart. That’s why I joined the women’s rugby team my first week of college.

No, but seriously.

On a scale of 1 to Aggressive, I’m at around -17. As a kid, I used to either burst into tears whenever conflict arose or I’d be the one hiding in a corner, with both hands covering my ears. I was more likely to join the Peace/Social Justice club throughout my school days than any contact sports team. I was part of the Peer Conflict Resolution group in high school. If two friends were fighting, I was the one to sit them down and have them talk things through till they were patched. I’d say “Unity” is one of  my favorite words in the dictionary.  Yet, during the first week in college, I walked by the Student Activities table and was handed a small pink flyer. Not wanting to offend, I took it from the overly enthusiastic girl in gym shorts. She asked if I had ever played rugby. I shook my head no, but she reassured me that newcomers were welcome and that it was easy to pick up.

I must have been feeling pretty bold. It was college after all. New beginnings, new me. I signed my name, gave my e-mail address and told her I’d be looking forward to hearing from them. It felt good. Like I just signed up for an epic journey. Plus, it was a great story to tell my new dorm-mates and friends. Guess what, I just signed up for the Women’s Rugby Team! Killer, right?

The meeting date finally came. They picked us up in front of our dorm and took us to their training field, which seemed like an hour away. I stood shoulder to shoulder with other freshmen girls, many whom were tinier than I was. Was this real? The team captain started to coach us. We were instructed on how to catch and hold on to the ball, how to tackle people and how to fall without breaking our ribs.

Breaking ribs? Really? It was at this point that they passed out the mouth guards. So that, you know, we can protect our teeth. Wait, this is getting real now.

It was at this point that some of the veterans came to check out the rookies. A few of them were on crutches. Huh? I didn’t have time to wonder why they were hobbling around. Someone had taken me down. Someone half my size. It actually…felt great.

I was in pain when I stumbled into my dorm room that evening, but I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to tell anyone who would listen that there is a proper way to fall without risking grave injury.

Anyone who knew me could tell me, mostly non-verbally through quick smiles and head shakes: That is so unlike you! The Pacifist Turned Contact Sport Player. The most exciting part of the whole thing resided in that one word: Turned. I like stories of Turnover, of “label peeling” and “stereotype-defying”.

Despite my excitement, this Turnover story was only a partial one. I only lasted a day in the Women’s Rugby Team. Looking at the mouth guard that night, remember the crutches and realizing that I’d have to wake up way before the sun to practice, I declined from going further.

Yet, that love of Turnover stories hasn’t left me. I look forward to living out more Turnover stories, more than partial, hopefully, this time around.

Photo courtesy of  TheBIGlife

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