By: Melanie DaSilva
The Sacred Heart University women’s head rugby coach, Michelle Reed, was interviewed by Gift-Time Rugby for an article that was published on Oct. 21 about the Pioneers.
Gift-Time Rugby is an entertainment site that highlights news on players, teams, and events through live streams, talk shows, podcasts, and other forms of media throughout the United States.
The rugby program at Sacred Heart is relatively new to the Division I program. Originally a club team, the program was named to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I play in the fall of 2015. Reed was thrilled with the opportunity and is still trying to expand and grow the program at Sacred Heart.
“Because we are in our third year, we are a new NCAA rugby program that has had two and a half years to build and Gift-Time Rugby Network wanted to see where we were at,” said Reed.
Reed touched on how rugby is not as widely covered in the United States on well-known sports networks like it is around the globe. After receiving an email from the network, she accepted the opportunity to speak about her team and how they have grown together after two years at the Division I level.
“For us, it is another outlet for our program to be seen in a positive light. I am proud of what we have done here at Sacred Heart,” said Reed. “So if someone wants to write a story on us, I think that the student athletes are owed a little bit of that exposure because of all the hard work that they put in every day.”
It was more about the recognition for her student athletes and the program, rather than herself, when Reed accepted the opportunity.
Most athletes on the team had very little experience playing rugby until they joined the team at Sacred Heart. Reed sent out a mass email inviting those who were interested in playing rugby to a meeting where they could meet the staff and learn more about the sport.
“I went to that meeting. Coach Reed was there and she introduced me to some of the players on the team from the first year and they sold me,” said senior Margaret Woods. “I went to their practices and was able to sit on the sidelines and a week later, I knew I wanted to play rugby and be a part of the team.”
With the program transitioning from a club sport to the Division I level, it changed the players’ college experiences. Junior Samantha King was one of those members who was originally on the club team and went through the transition of becoming a member of the Division I team.
“I am so much more motivated now because I have practice and lift and all these other fun opportunities that forced me to get my stuff done on time and not procrastinate,” said King. “It has also opened up a whole world of friends and we have each other’s backs on and off the field.”
Not only has rugby changed their college experiences at Sacred Heart, it has also changed and helped them build as people in the real world.
“Joining the rugby team has made me more open to other experiences,” said Woods. “It has made me more confident and more sure of myself and I do not think I’ll hold myself back from new opportunities that come my way in the future.”