by Shaylee Meyer
Football, basketball, and hockey are just a few popular sports in the Midwest, and when a college’s team goes to nationals, people usually hear about it.
But what about the less popular sports?
Take the women’s rugby club, the Hummerz, for example. They have been winning or placing second in almost all of their tournaments in the last year.
Last fall the team made it to the Midwest Playoffs and was only one game away from going to nationals.
“We were really close last year. We lost to Wayne State who actually just had won it, and after we lost they went on to win it again,” said senior Breanna Bucklin, captain for The Hummers. “We were that close and it sucks to lose. After we played [Wayne State] we realized that we had to work harder and step our game up to play at their level, which we worked on all off-season and beginning of the season to get to that point.”
Bucklin has been playing on the rugby team for four years. When she joined during her freshman year, they made it to the Final Four for the first time, and have made it every year since.
That is when the team realized they might have a chance at nationals in the future. Now is that future.
“It’s just finally starting to sink in,” said sophomore Sydney Zenen. “When we won against Wayne, I was like ‘ok we’re going to nationals’ and now I’m just like ‘oh my gosh, we’re going to nationals!’”
The Hummerz made it to the Final Four again, in Rochester, Minn., to qualify for the national tournament.
They beat out Carleton College in the first round and then beat Wayne State in the championship game.
Since both Carleton and Wayne are two-time national champions, playing against them prepared the Hummerz for teams they will be playing at nationals.
“I think our first game we play a team that’s been there three years in a row,” said sophomore Beth Myers. “Obviously they’re going to want it really bad, but I feel like we want it really bad too, so it’s kind of even there.”
Even though the Hummerz have never been to nationals, they are still entering the tournament strong with an undefeated record.
Playing two really difficult teams is one thing that will prepare them for nationals, but they have also been stepping things up at practice by working hard all the way through and going to the gym on their own time.
“Brandi and Breanna have for sure been a huge inspiration, they send us motivational texts every single day and make sure that we’re all getting in there,” Myers said. “So we all just make sure we work really hard and get to the gym plus practice.”
Another thing the team needed to take into consideration was the cost of getting to nationals. This year the tournament is held in Cherry Hill, N.J.
They usually all pile into vans to get to tournaments, but this one is a little too far, so they decided to fly.
There are 19 players, a coach and a manager going on the trip.
Factoring in flight, hotel, and food costs, everything will total about $12,000.
To pay for everything, they fundraise all year by selling tickets and working events at the Scheels Arena.
They also make a presentation to the Students Activity Budget Committee to ask them for help in funding what they need.
Going to nationals is a huge deal for the team. Not only does it push them to work harder, but it also will get their name out there.
“I feel like this is helping us grow, especially every year when we do better and better, it helps make it bigger and people recognize it,” said Bucklin
While the team is excited about nationals, some of the players are also a little nervous. But that doesn’t mean they won’t do what they have to to win.
“We face our teams and we are going to see stuff we’ve never seen all year and they are going to be our best games since they’re the last ones,” said Bucklin.
The national tournament will be held on Nov. 22-23. The team will be flying out the Nov. 20 and coming back the 24th, hopefully with trophy in hand.