All teams go through them: the dreaded losing seasons. They always plague teams for a season or two, but for the teams that do go through them, it seems like an eternity.
The one thing that teams must do after having a difficult season is get back to the basics, getting better at the fundamental level then working up from there. If the team is determined enough, the rigorous training they put themselves through to make themselves better will often pay off, and pay off in a big way.
The Springfield College women’s rugby team was formed in 2009 as a club sport and did not start with a strong showing. There was not much interest in the sport, but there were a group of athletes that were determined to make the club work. Shannon Stanley was one of those athletes.
Stanley had played soccer all her life and wanted to try something new, so she joined the rugby team. A sophomore at the time, she was looking forward to her first season, but was disappointed when it came.
The team was close and hung out, but they never gelled on the field and their coach did not keep them together. They never had good numbers on the team and no one showed up to practice. When they did show up, they did not take it seriously.
They did not win a game that season, and they needed to make changes. The coach stepped down and Kristen Brosius, Coordinator of Facility Operations and Student Development at the Wellness Center, and a former volleyball coach, stepped up to take over as head coach last year.
Brosius, or “Broshi” to her players, went to clinics and camps to learn the sport of rugby and brought very good values to the team, which made them stronger as a unit.
“She brought our team to a whole other level,” Stanley said.
Kristiann Kassay, a sophomore on the team, added, “She [Brosius] is a strong proponent of team bonding because that’s what the foundation of the team is.”
Brosius provided the team with a new vote of confidence. She taught the fundamentals of rugby to the team, which allowed them to start to rapidly improve. Although the team improved, their record did not show it. They went 0-4-1, which was not satisfactory for the team. They wanted to win.
“We had a great team,” said Kassay. “We just didn’t have the motivation.”
The excitement for the 2011 fall season came over the summer when Stanley received many emails from girls who wanted to join the team.
“The girls were actually interested,” Stanley said. “We didn’t have to recruit them; they were coming to us.”
The team focused on keeping positive through the beginning of this year, and this boiled over into practices. The entire team gave 100 percent. Stanley and Kassay agreed that the 2011 squad was much more dedicated; they did not complain when they had to condition or do tedious drills in practice.
Rugby is a team game, and if the team does not perform as a whole, they will not do well. The SC team does not have a problem with that. They are a strong team. After winning its first game, they knew they could continue to win.
The Pride (2-0) won their second game against Wesleyan handily and now their confidence is at an all-time high.
“The only place we can go is up,” said Kassay.
Nick Lovett may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org