Women’s rugby team changing in the coming year
Going into their fourth year as a club, the women’s rugby team is making critical changes, expanding from the coachless team with hand-me-down jerseys they were in 2010.
For the past three years, the women have worn the men’s old rugby jerseys.
“They don’t exactly fit, and they look and smell far from new, but they have done all right for our team,” said Becca Broekhuis, the senior captain.
“They were ripped, stained and two sizes too big,” said Maria Sedjo, senior co-captain of the team.
But this year, the team has been approved to receive new jerseys, designed specifically for the build and shape of women.
“It was a little rough for awhile, but we were always grateful for the guys. It was just time for us to get our own,” Sedjo said. “If Calvin didn’t approve, we would have been disappointed.”
Though the jerseys don’t say “men’s,” it was obvious by their fit that they were not designed for the team, Sedjo said.
Broekhuis admitted that playing in these uniforms was uncomfortable while competing against teams like Michigan State.
“The student life department recently switched the way in which student organizations can request funding for the more expensive items they purchase,” Broekhuis said. “Any organization, regardless of size or budget can request funding for an item that will be used for several years to come. It’s called a ‘capital items request.’”
“It’s a really good way to help some of the smaller organizations like women’s rugby to grow without increasing their annual budget,” Broekhuis added.
However, not all of the changes were by request.
Calvin also recently required the team to find a coach. “When I heard that the rugby team was going to be pulled if they didn’t find a coach, I knew it was me,” said Andy DeVries, Calvin’s regional gift officer.
“I’ve never seen a rugby game. I don’t know anything about rugby, but I’ve always cheered for the underdog,” DeVries said.
Due to the team’s tight budget of $2,000, half of which is raised by the girls, DeVries’ position as coach is volunteer only. But it’s not about the money.
“I can make a difference,” DeVries said, “All I have to do is be there, just show up. The girls [Broekhuis and Sedjo] are the real coaches.”
DeVries coaches by the motto, “hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard.”
Coming into the team having only the experience that 198 downloaded pages of rules and strategies could teach him, DeVries believes in the success of the club based not on the score, but on the attitudes of the girls.
“If we come out of the game having had fun and worked hard then we’ll call that a win,” DeVries said.
“Our team,” said Broekhuis, “is about enjoying time with each other and getting to play rugby.”
With these new adjustments to the team, Broekhuis and Sedjo are excited for the new season, anticipating a new confidence and motivation.
“I think the new adjustments have helped us establish ourselves as an organization,” Broekhuis said. “They encourage women to keep playing rugby at Calvin even after Maria and I graduate.”