“When it comes down to it the only thing that separates this family is that we play girls and they play men.”
After earning a starting spot on the men’s club rugby team, Alexandria Soto decided it was time to start a women’s rugby team.
“I wanted to start a women’s team because I fell in love with this sport, but I wanted to see what I could do in my own league,” Soto said. “I always thought of what it would be like to compete with girls and not be terrified to step on the pitch. So once we had a team going, I couldn’t wait to play.”
Since the team started at the beginning of this semester, it has grown to 11 women, each having participated in sports, but none of which are rugby.
Despite being small in number, Soto said the team is large in perseverance. They have participated in two tournaments against teams such as the University of Texas at Dallas, Texas Tech University and Sam Houston State University.
The team has not won a game, but continues to attract women to their open practices.
While talking with one of the team members, Abby Kunkel, sophomore biochemistry major from Ranger, Kunkel said she was convinced to try it out due to the aggressive nature of the sport. In high school, Kunkel said she played every sport that was offered, but she never imagined trying rugby.
“I never thought that I would end up playing rugby, but I love trying new things,” Kunkel said. “I am considering joining the team. I think that it would be a lot of fun to try something new like rugby.”
In order to be considered an official club sport with ACU athletics, the team must begin competing at the national level. But this hasn’t stopped the team from bonding.
Kunkel said the women’s team has a close bond just like any other athletic group on campus.
“The girls on this team are so strong and the practices are really intense,” Kunkel said. “At the same time though, they are all really close friends and they are so encouraging. Practices can get pretty tough, but you can always look at the woman standing right beside you and encourage each other.”
Soto encourages women to come to open practices even if it is just for the experience.
“The biggest reward for me is seeing this vision of mine come to reality,” Soto said. “I would hope and pray every single day that someone would show up to practice so they could learn and fall in love with this sport. It’s a very scary sport to those who don’t know much. So seeing someone new, and having my regular girls keep returning, is all I could ask for.”
Both men’s and women’s rugby will host a tournament, May 6 outside the Williams Performing Arts Center.