by Tomi Thompson
After achieving national recognition in their fall season, the MSUM Lady Hummerz Rugby team is optimistic about continued success in the spring.
In November, the team competed at the National Small College Rugby Organization’s tournament in Cherry Hill, N.J.
MSUM defeated Mount St. Mary’s University from Emmitsburg, Md. for third place in the tournament, and are now tied for a second place ranking in the country.
Though the sport is popular in some parts of the world, team captain Breanna Bucklin had never played rugby before coming to MSUM.
“I never knew anything about rugby until I came to college and a couple of my friends played here already,” Bucklin said. “So when we came in as freshmen they tried to get us to play, so we decided to try it out, and decided it was fun and we wanted to play it.”
After four years on the team, Bucklin’s hard work has paid off. She was chosen as MSUM’s Heart and Soul award recipient at the regional tournament in Rochester.
The Heart and Soul award is selected by a team’s coaching staff and recognizes a team member who has inspired and contributed to the their program on and off the field.
“It’s the one who tries the most on your team,” Bucklin said. “We were playing a team we weren’t very fond of anyways, so it made it easy to play as hard as we could. It is a big honor to get it.”
Bucklin was named the MVP of the NSCRO West region and was invited to play sevens rugby with the Midwest under-23 team in the Las Vegas international tournament in February.
The tournament is held Feb. 13th to the 15th alongside the Las Vegas Invitational, North America’s largest rugby tournament.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Bucklin said. “It will be a new experience, a new team. We get to go to Las Vegas, so that’ll be fun.”
Other nationally recognized team members include NSRCO All-15 team honorees Haley Foster, Sydney Zenzen and Sawyer Salter. Jaden Witt was awarded MSUM’s Heart and Soul award at NSCRO’s Women’s small college national championship.
Team member Kiah Vanasse said being from a small school and having national success put the MSUM’s women’s rugby team on the map.
“It means a lot, it’s what we’re working for,” Vanasse said. “Not a lot of people know that there’s rugby here. Some students didn’t know we had a team, and now we’re representing our school across the nation. Its just exciting.”
For Vanasse, the team’s success is a solid building block for what can be achieved in the spring season and beyond.
“We’re going to go and play in these tournaments and win and work our hardest so that next year we can go to nationals again,” Vanasse said.
Bucklin said the spring season also brings along a unique tournament opportunity to the team featuring rugby in prom dresses.
“We have a prom dress tournament at the end of the year, every year,” Bucklin said. “its pretty fun. We usually have about four or five other teams, and we all get to wear dresses and play in them. Usually by the end they’re pretty ripped up.”