The Western women’s rugby team kicks off its season welcoming coach Marion DeBarge Foor to the team.
Foor has been playing rugby for more than 15 years and coaching for a number of years as well.
“She is going to provide us with the basics and fundamental base we need, while being able to really push us,” returning rugby member Kayla Adderley said. “She won’t care if you are a senior or a freshmen; if you have the skills, you can play and fill that position, you’re going to play.”
Team captain Lauren Heller was coached by returning members due to a lack of coaches during her first three years on the team. Because of this, she is looking forward to working with Foor.
“As a captain my role is to guide the team,” Heller said. “But as a coach, her role is to teach the team and she is doing a phenomenal job of that.”
Throughout the year Foor will help the Vikings to better the team in the game and become a more cohesive unit, helping to unify the forward players and the back players on the field. While each team member can do great work themselves, if the team doesn’t work together it’s not going to be as fluid, Heller said.
After playing the last three years without a coach, vice president Ashley Conradi is excited to welcome Foor. Foor will be able to bring experience to the team, that was mostly learning from the captains, who have only played a maximum of five years after high school.
“With our coach now, she is giving us the direction we need to meld the two together,” Conradi said. “She’s tough, but it’s just what we needed to get on track and actually learn stuff properly.”
Along with a new coach, the Vikings will be moving up to battle Division I schools, allowing them to compete with some of the best collegiate rugby teams in the country, thanks to Heller and Conradi. Due to a lack of competition in Division II, Heller and Conradi approached the league and petitioned for Western to be moved to Division I.
Last year, while in Division II, the Vikings only played two competitive matches against opposing teams. The opposing teams forfeited the rest of the games because the teams were unable to field a full team, which includes 15 players. This forced the team to scrimmage rather than compete for positions in the league.
“We are not putting to use all the practice and work that we are doing,” Heller said.
The women’s rugby team will play a hybrid schedule this year. The Vikings will still compete in the Division II category, but will play exhibition games with Division I teams in order to prove to USA Rugby and the Division I league that the team can compete.
During its hybrid season, the Vikings will be taking on University of Washington, Oregon State University, Washington State University, Eastern Washington University and University of Puget Sound.
This year will provide Western with an environment that will promote growth and learning both for both individuals and the team. If the Viking rugby team competes hard and plays well, it will be moving up to Division I permanently.
Western will be going up against Central Washington University on Saturday, Oct. 17, in Ellensburg.