The life of athletes at Tufts has always been a bit of a mystery to me–heck, how people can play sports at all has always been a mystery to me, as my athletic skills are just enough to propel me up the Tufts hill, and nothing more. As little as sports tend to impact me though, there are many students for whom sports are a huge part of their life here. In order to show their perspective, I interviewed my friend and sorority sister, Amanda, who is on the Tufts Women’s Rugby team.
Amanda started rugby her freshman fall. She had never played before, but she saw a post about rugby in the class of 2023 Facebook page. It intrigued her, particularly because it seemed welcoming for students with no previous experience. She recalls thinking, “No cuts? That’s what I want to hear!”
Having never played rugby before, there was a learning curve; however, the majority of the players don’t have prior experience. The team spends the first month just learning how to play and focusing on basic skills. Even the members who have played before start from the beginning, making it a positive learning experience for all.
Amanda has found the rugby community to be exceptionally welcoming, not only to players of all abilities, but also to students of all body types. It is also a great space for students who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, and a safe space for many gender identities. According to Amanda, the team owes this inclusive environment to Emma Blumstein, a 2010 graduate who passed away in 2012. To honor her, the team throws its annual “Emma Blumstein Memorial Pride Game.” The proceeds from merchandise and concessions goes to BAGLY, a Boston-based organization that supports LGBTQ+ youth.
The team builds community by having frequent themed social events, at which the team comes together to bond. To fit the theme, the players wear fun costumes and compete for the best ones. These events are especially important because when the team is at practice, they are in the zone, so these bondings help everyone get to know each other.
The socials are hosted by the social chairs, two of the many leadership positions on rugby. Other players act as the forwards captain (who is in charge of the big, strong contact players), the backs captain (who is in charge of the people who run), match secretary (who sets up games with other schools, coordinates buses, manages refs, etc.), president, treasurer, PR co-chairs, and team mom (who helps advise the new players on things like how to complete paperwork or how to complete concussion tests, as well as other general life matters). Amanda served as team mom her junior year.
And yet, while Amanda dedicates a lot of time to playing rugby each week, and many of her closest friends are from rugby, including her housemates, she still finds time for other things. To balance her schedule, she leaves practice times open during course registration so that she knows that she will never have to miss practice. She also joined Kappa Alpha Theta her sophomore year, and got very involved as the VP of Operations, taking on events and risk management for the last three semesters. While this keeps her busy, she has found it entirely possible to hold leadership in other clubs, commit to rugby, and maintain friends from different circles on campus.
While I am in no way qualified to give any sports-related advice, I can’t give up my tradition of ending my blog with a piece of “Emma’s Advice;” thus, my Emma’s advice for you today is to be an Amanda! Don’t be afraid to try to balance different interests in college – while sports can seem like a huge, overwhelming time commitment, Amanda has found a new passion and a great community through rugby, and she has still been able to form strong friendships and leadership skills through Theta. Bolstered with love and support from her teammates and sisters, Amanda has scored big at Tufts.