Project Manager and Digital Marketing Strategist, Current Brand Manager at Ruggette RFC
Where did you grow up? What sports did you play?
I grew up in Raleigh, NC and played every sport I could get my hands on, but I primarily focused on soccer and basketball.
When did you start to play rugby? How did rugby find you?
I started playing at UNC in 2007. A friend of mine suggested I try it out, and I was hooked since my first training.
Tell us a bit about your rugby journey:
Since my first practice as a freshman at UNC, I played 4 years there, earning All-American honors twice in the back half of college. After graduation, I was selected to be one of the inaugural 8 professional 7s players with the USOPC program down in Chula [Vista]. While that program (and the wider 7s series in general) has grown immensely since those early years, I was able to develop my game a ton with that support and my full-time focus, competing in series stops all over the world and even winning bronze in the 2013 World Cup.
I earned my first 15s cap in 2012 against Italy I believe - interestingly enough at fullback which I’m not sure I’ve ever played since? After I left the 7s program in late 2013, I focused entirely on 15s, playing 10 in the 2014 and 2017 World Cups… with lots of caps, camps, and coffees in between. I also spent two seasons playing overseas - one with Railway Union in the AIL in Ireland and one with Harlequins in the English premiership (now the Prem15s)
Add in a few seasons coaching collegiate rugby at the likes of UNC, Navy, and Harvard, lots of games in the WPL with Beantown, the Furies, the Surfers, and Glendale, and a few national championships and international tours with Scion, and that about sums it up.
What's a favorite rugby memory?
Probably either of the national championships I’ve won with Scion. That team is special.
When did you stop playing and why?
I technically retired from international rugby in 2020 right before the pandemic, mostly due to the toll that playing at a professional level without professional level support was taking on my physical, mental, and financial health.
Burnout doesn’t quite capture it, but that’s usually the word that gets used. It’s a lot more prevalent in women’s sports (and women’s rugby in particular) than most realize. Our expectations and our own potential are so high, but the support behind us isn’t always there for us to be able to meet them, and that divide really takes a toll. It’s one thing in your early 20s to live a nomadic lifestyle and sacrifice everything for the game, but after 10+ years of it, your body needs a lot more daily maintenance, the debt accrues, and it all sort of starts to come to a head.
All that said, I never really wanted to stop playing the sport itself, but my body, my mind, and my bank account were breaking down to the point where I needed to regroup. But then I came back to win another national title with Scion in 2021, so you may not have seen the last of me on a rugby field...
What have you been focusing on since?
For the first year or so, we were all pretty bogged down with the pandemic, so probably what everyone else was focusing on - trying to keep up with everything that was going on in the world. But as the world started to emerge, I decided I wanted to stay involved with rugby and help invest in the future of a sport that gave so much to me, and that’s how I got connected with Ruggette.
How did you connect with Ruggette?
I first met Stef when we played at Beantown together in 2018, so that’s when I first heard about her company. At that time, I was also on the USRPA as the women’s 15s rep, so we were able to bounce ideas off of each other about how to support the players and grow the game in the US. I loved everything about their ethos of “solving problems for female athletes”, and I just kind of followed the company from a distance for a few years.
I had a background in both digital marketing and project management, so when Stef and I reconnected after a podcast I was a guest on, the opportunity sort of presented itself to combine my career off the field with the one I’d had on it. Given the reasons behind my retirement, I’m incredibly invested in removing barriers for both current and future generations of female athletes.
As a brand, Ruggette RFC embodies that investment in women’s rugby - not only by creating kit designed by and for women’s rugby players, but also through uplifting the incredible stories in our community, directly supporting players and clubs in need, and partnering with organizations that do the same, such as the USWRF, through initiatives like the USA Rugby Heritage 1991 World Cup Jersey.
As someone who wore a later version, recreating the USA jersey worn by the very first winners of the Women’s World Cup ever - the ‘91 Eagles - was especially close to my heart. I couldn’t have done really any of the things I’ve done with my rugby career without the legacy of those who wore the jersey before, and both myself and Ruggette aim to honor that past while continuing to drive change and the investment women’s rugby deserves for the future.
Where do you see the company going?
At its core, Ruggette is focused on solving problems for female athletes, and there’s no shortage of those right now. So we’re definitely getting stuck into that at the moment. Currently, that focus is on making sure apparel stops being a barrier to participation and inclusion, but we won’t be limited to that in the future - stay tuned.