Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Deja vu.


WOW I haven't posted here in a long time, that's very very very sad. Doesn't mean that rugby has been on hiatus from my life though, because I think about it every day!

Buuuuuuut my collar bone is broken. I won't go into to detail of how this happened since I would like to save the face of rugby if my family were to ever discover this, but once again.....NO REGRETS.

Our last game was our worst loss, but strangely enough our best game. That's soooo weird to write....barely makes sense. But I was really proud of the team I'm on, and I know that I played hard. It was a FUN game because everyone was putting in so much effort, and at the same time it was fun because it was a challenge that we were putting up a big fight against! I'm glad the season ended on that note; hopefully the other players on the team can remember how awesome it was to fight hard in a rugby game and put it in effort so they continue to do so in the future.
Although I am injured with a collar bone that is broken in 4 places (not surprised one bit), DOESN'T MEAN IT'S VACATION TIME. I have actually been putting more pressure on myself now to make sure I am not a single step behind for spring season. Some days I will end up staying at the gym for 4 hours to make sure I get a good enough work out, which requires more since I'm not allowed to run at all (when I broke my wrist I could sneak around this, but not now). I've lost almost 30 pounds, and I'm screaming at myself for not doing this when I could actually play rugby! It's like I didn't realize what I had until it's gone - it really sucks that I don't have a rugby season to play now that I'm getting into some good shape. But I just have to think about the future, and keep on truckin'. I plan on being better than ever for the spring, and playing harder than I have ever played before.
It is ALSO a pleasure to see some fellow ruggers at the gym!!! I cannot even begin to describe how happy that makes me. At the beginning of next semester I plan on trying to create a work out schedule for the team again; even though it might not work, it's worth a shot and better than nothing. I sent out an email to the team after our last game that I hope inspired them to not take the "off season" (even though I don't think that exists) lightly. Here's what it said:

"HOLLA,

I just want you all to know a super duper important fact about rugby:
the season never ends.

I cannot stress how important it is to keep rugby on the brain (it's a better way to live life anyway :) ), even though we don't really have a tentative schedule of practices and games anymore. Your best weapon in rugby is your body, and the most useful skill in rugby is fitness. It may be tough to see because the goals seem so far in the future, but NOW is the most important part of rugby season! Really take this time to push yourself, and instead of moving backwards and starting rugby games in the spring behind the pace, work hard and start them one step ahead of the game!

On that note, who says we have to stop practicing rugby?! If anyone is free Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays when we used to have practice we can saunter our way over to lyons hall and play some pick up sevens for a half hour....hour....however long we effing feel like it! I'll be shooting a text out to all of you guys every M/W/F to see who wants to play, and even if we don't get a full 14 there's obviously a hundred other rugby games that are maaaaad fun that we can play. Even if only one of you wants to go, I'll go with you. Unfortunately, for now I can't join in the play because I'm obviously immobilized by my "backpack straps" lol, but I will be on the sidelines yelling and cheering and fetching rugby balls and such.

SO, do work. And partay after."

I'm very hopeful for the future; I have faith in my team. I'm trying hard to keep faith in myself as well, and pull through for everyone. From the get go I have planned on playing rugby until I absolutely positively cannot play anymore - to the point where someone has to chop my leg off or something - and I still plan on doing just that. I don't want to be phased one bit from injury. And I won't be!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Too much ambition?




UGH, we lost yet another game. It was our homecoming game, and once again what scares me is not the fact that we lost, but how we lost. I don't understand how a team can take a loss so lightly!!! And not just a regular loss, but a complete shut out to a team that we could have BEATEN! I mean, there's no need to be completely down about it either, but I mean obviously you need to think about SOME things that need to be done or worked on after not scoring a single tri against a mediocre team. Our team talked a lot about the need to be more positive over this season, but don't just throw constructive criticism and hard work out the window! Why are we completely full of butterflies and rainbows now in a serious situation? We're 0-3, we've scored ONE TRI out of the course of these three games, and the teams we have played against have scored a TON of tris (tries? blah, too upset for grammar) on us. So not only does the one tri fact show we have no offense, but the fact that other teams are scoring so much on us shows we also have no defense!
The only way to handle a failure in rugby (and in life!) is to just TRY AGAIN - not give yourself a trophy for it. But you actually have to TRY! Yeah we lost and we didn't score, so I went to the gym today, ran a 3 mile speed workout, and did an almost endless ab and arm workout along with a bajillion squats. I plan on doing the same thing tomorrow, and working on my kicking and passing by myself. I just don't understand how so much of our team can still sit on their behinds after so many ridiculous losses and not want to FIGHT it - have they completely given up hope in the team? Do they just expect to lose? Is our team "conquered"?! I KNOW I'M NOT; I WANT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! There's only two games left in this season, and I'm going to do every single thing possible to pick my game up and be a better asset to this team.
What's even more frustrating is that 500 million random people who saw our game keep coming up to me and telling me how great I played; even people on our team keep telling me I had one of the best rugby games I've ever played on this team. But the score doesn't show that at all. And it doesn't have to every time, but I don't consider it an achievement if as a team we did so incredibly bad. We all win and lose as a team, and even if I ran over the other team personally it doesn't mean a damn thing. But that's what's great about rugby at the same time - it's unreal how much the sport of rugby revolves around playing as a team. Our team obviously proved that not one or two people can play well and show up for a full 80 minute game, the entire team has to. That team may have been just mediocre, but they all came ready to play together. How do you fix that? I try so hard at every practice and game to get people fired up and inspired, but I guess there's only so much you can do. What more can I do?! I wish I knew, because I would do so in a heartbeat.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Owch.


Well it's a good thing I watched Gladiator the night before the game, and wrote down what I did in that last entry because it's 100% applicable to how our game went. We lost 37-0, which is heinous not only in any sport but especially in rugby. But what I'm most upset about is the absolute horrible attitude our team had. We really carried our own weight in the first half and kept our cool, but after some bad referee calls and injuries, our team pretty much had a nervous breakdown. Like the last entry says NOT to do, we completely felt "conquered" before the 80 minutes in the game were up. I'm proud of myself for still hustling back to the 50 meter line after every single tri the other team scored on us, no matter how earned or unearned the tri was.
There were some people on the team who were literally screaming, saying mean things to other people on the team (including saying things to me), and even pushing and shoving their own players around the field. That is ridiculous. I mean, I know what it's like to really get into the game, to get frustrated and to get vocal on the field. But I know that whenever I get vocal on the team or need to yell on the field, I always try and follow it up with something positive, whether it's a compliment to the person I just yelled at ("nice hustle") or just a neutral comment that could be positive ("alright, let's hustle back up the field and try again."). I'm not usually affected by other people's attitudes and I'm usually able to keep my cool, but there were people on my own team who were yelling at me and making me nervous. I'm really upset about it, they actually started to make me doubt myself which is super taboo in rugby! One of the things that I absolutely love and treasure about the sport of rugby is how much of a team sport it truly is, and that gives no one on a team the right to yell at someone in a harmful way. Everyone is responsible for one another's actions, and everyone wins and loses as a team.
I'm also really nervous about the number of injuries we have had on the team. In the past two games (and the only two games of our season so far), we have had four concussions - and I'm pretty sure that sounds bad for any sport. Someone also broke their nose and we've had two blown out knees. I know that part of it is fitness, but I thought that ever since our team reinstated the 2 mile run before every practice the injuries would at least let up a tiny bit. Concussions obviously have something to do with how people are hitting the ground, since that's how they are caused. So it's either we're tackling wrong or being tackled wrong. One of our coaches did make the point that sometimes people on the team get tackled like they're stiff as a board, so I think that our team really needs to work on running lower. We'll whip out some rucking pads and hopefully work on that next practice. Our players just seem to be dropping like flies, which is so alarming!
I hope that things can get better. I don't care if we lose every game as long as we improve and work on our mistakes.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Enough of the politics.

So I am watching Gladiator as part of my nightly pre-rugby game ritual, and I just heard yet again another fantastic quote in the movie that reminds me of rugby:
It's in the beginning, when Russell Crowe and his wing man are about to fight a battle. The two of them are standing among the rest of the army, and they're just staring down at the Barbarians who are clearly outnumbered. It seems pretty obvious that Russell Crowe's army is going to win the battle (not just because he's the main character and on the front of the movie box), and his wing man says, "People should know when they're conquered..."
And then...the best line ever.

Russell Crowe says, "Would you, Commodus? Would I?"

It just makes me think of the most epic rugby mentality ever spilled out in a line of a movie right there. Even if you're outnumbered, or the opposing team looks bigger, faster, and stronger, you never ever ever back down and you never ever ever "know when you're conquered." There's never a time that you think before the referee blows that final whistle signaling the game is over that you should give up, or think that you will be defeated.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Insane in the membrane.


Yesterday was our very first game of the season, and we lost 20-5. It was frustrating to lose, especially because I think we could've actually won, but I think the team really showed some potential. In the beginning and end of each half, our rucking was absolutely unstoppable. We absolutely plowed over the team and had such control over the ball! But in the middle of each half, our team completely and utterly burned out. And when we did not get to the rucks in time, the other team completely poached the ball time after time after time. But out of the tries they did have, I'd say only one was earned. The other two were just a quick mistake of a missed tackle that should not and would not normally happen. Also, our scrums were absolutely disgraceful. I'm not sure what the issue is there, but we better figure it out soon.
In the end, I blame our failures on a lack of fitness. That's annoying because it's up to every individual on the team to put in their part in that area. We can practice skills all day, but that's not even close to enough. Luckily, at practices we are going to be instilling the park run again so that people can get some fitness in on a regular basis. We'll see how much of a difference in makes in a week before our next game, but I just hope it's not too late already....it's tough to get in shape and takes a long time!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

ANTSY.

Yesterday, we had our first scrimmage and THE ROOKIES LOOKED SO FANTASTIC! I'm really happy that the new girls are fitting right in; it's really a great sight and a wonderful reflection of how awesome the vets on our team are at the same time.
I've been a little afraid/nervous about not being in "rugby shape" yet, but yesterday I actually had a pretty decent run with the ball where I kept a good pace for a long time. That pace I'm sure is what made me able to evade so many different people, and one of my coaches commented on me "running in a crazy way - your body goes one way and your legs go another!" I'm not sure if it was supposed to be a compliment HAHA, but that sounds like a good quality to have to give a nice evasive step, so sounds good to me. I hope I continue to improve.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Putting in work.

WOO HOO! I've had a minor breakthrough in my rugby training; THANK GOD. Jeez, I needed a little sign of progress. The other day when I threw up after my run, it was from running around a park that's up the street from my school twice. Usually, for rugby practice we try and run it once before we start which is about 1.7 miles I guess. I think this park is a pretty good run because there are some flat stretches that allow you to work on speed and then some awesome inclines thrown in with it. So I threw up after running it twice, or 3.4 miles (lame), at a decently quick pace. Today I ran the park three times, so 5.1 miles. It's still not a distance to brag about, but what I'm more concerned with is that I was able to run it three times in a row and still be able to run the last lap at almost the same fast pace I would run one lap with. It was tough at some points, especially right before the biggest incline on the last lap. I remember in my head yelling at myself, "AHH! I NEED TO STOP! IT'S TOO HARD! IT HURTS! BLAAAAH I CAN'T RUN ANYMORE! I NEEEED TO SLOW DOWN!" but I kept on running and ran really hard up until the very end! So the day that I threw up actually did come in handy; now running the park twice has been added to my list of runs that can be considered a piece of cake (or at least not a tough challenge). And then taking that next step of adding another lap will only give me potential to improve even more. I feel like the world of rugby fitness is in my hands now; I've never had to worry about working hard, but I have had to worry about whether or not I'm acually making progress. So now that progression is showing, there's nothing I need to worry about. All I need to do is work hard and push myself even harder, which is always a given :)
This is extremely important I think for rugby because rugby requires this uniquely insane amount of fitness: you need to be able to absolutely sprint for long periods of time. I don't care what position someone plays, I think that the bottom line to being a good rugby player is having an infinite sprinting endurance. So cross country runners and track sprinters both have things they need to work on for rugby, neither of them are in the clear. I wish that other people on the rugby team could see this and how important it is. Sometimes people on the team wonder why they aren't improving, or why they're still struggling/not starting/not getting the playing time they want, and I know exactly where I can credit at least half of it to. People question these things especially when they work hard/do workouts on their own, but these people need to reconsider what exactly they do when they work out. So many people think that "going for a run/jog" on off days of rugby practices is enough, but I beg to differ depending on what exactly a run consists of for them. Most of the time, people are using the same-exact-run which consists of the saaaaame distance and the saaaaaame pace. Great, you can run around the park once in less than a half hour. Now what? The answer should be to move onto another pace or distance, but sometimes it never happens. I know people who just run two miles and call it quits...all-the-time. That limits so much potential! It's like sitting yourself behind a wall. For rugby, you need to PUSH yourself to your absolute last limit. It's always an immense challenge, and in order to keep up with it you've gotta step up to the plate with the right amount of fitness to back you up.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A little epiphany.

Boy did I learn a lesson today: it's up to no one else but you how much you run in a day or how hard you train yourself for rugby. After practice today I was upset that we didn't do as much running as I wanted to, not even close to enough, and I felt super angry about it and thought I wasted a day without running. But then I realized, "Hey...so what if we didn't do running at practice? Why don't I just go running right now?!" which is precisely what I did! After pouting in my house for about 30 seconds, I threw on my sneakers and ran about 3 and a half miles. Unfortunately, once my work load begins to grow, I don't know if I'll still have the time to be able to do that, but every little thing counts. Those 3 and a half miles are under my belt, and it's a little but important step towards being a better rugby player!
I'm proud of myself for never giving up, but I just don't know how long it will last....to be honest, I keep surprising myself with how dedicated I am to rugby. There have been many many times, even including now, where I've thought to myself, "What's the POINT?! I'm NEVER going to be exceptional at rugby, and I'm never going to get any better than I am right now. It's just not in the cards for me," and I've really been at my lowest and inches away from collapsing and giving up on the sport all together. But for some reason, I don't know where I find the strength to consistently pull myself out of some the darkest thoughts and drag myself back onto the treadmill or onto the field to practice everything and anything that has to do with rugby all by myself. I guess I just truly love the sport that much, and maybe my doubts and things that I get upset about are a bit selfish. I may just be a little too competitive! I just always need to remember - I'll be able to play rugby for the rest of my life if I want to! There are tons of friendly rugby clubs out there that take anyone!.....at least I hope so.

Motion Sickness.

WOO! What a day filled with rugby!! My life truly does revolve around this sport and this team, but I wouldn't want to live life any other way.
Yesterday, I guess it was a little hotter outside than I expected.....I went on about a 5 mile run (not too bad) trying to weave in some speed workouts and overall run it at a pretty decent pace (still not bad). But at the end, maybe it was just from having too much sun or something, because I threw up and had a little trouble breathing. It was even tough to walk back home in the sun because my skin felt like it was burning. HAHA this is all super embarrassing to admit because the workout isn't that strenuous and all the things that happened to me sound so dramatic. But eh, I'm glad it happened. Now when I run it again today and/or tomorrow, it'll be easier!
So after the run, I had to venture out to a meeting that was about an hour and a half away that had to do with rule changes and such this year. Listening to the logistics were kind of boring, like what paperwork we need to have in before each game and stuff, but it was exciting just to hear a ref talking about the game in general, even it was in the form of rules. And it was exciting to hear people shouting out random questions about things that could happen in the game, God it got my heart pumping!! It's unreal to know that the best of this season hasn't even come yet: game play! Then straight from the meeting I traveled all the way back to campus to make it mid way through our showing of INVICTUS on campus!! There weren't many people there who aren't on the rugby team already, but I missed the beginning where more people may have been present. But anyways, I guess all of these events combined just make me in heaven right now: it's nice to think and know that I am in the midst of the greatest time of the year with so much more to come. I have high hopes!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A (figurative) pregnancy glow.

I've already known this in the past, but now I am completely and utterly sure that this is my time of year. This is the time of year where I absolutely shine in the way that I am just absolutely ecstatic and in a good mood all the time....because it is rugby season.

How every-single-day of rugby season is positive:

Monday: Hooray! There's rugby practice today! I CAN'T WAIT!
Tuesday: YES, rugby practice is tomorrow! So soon!
Wednesday: Hooray! There's rugby practice today! I CAN'T WAIT!
Thursday: YES, rugby practice is tomorrow! So soon!
Friday: Hooray! There's rugby practice today! AND GAME DAY IS TOMORROW!!!!!!
Saturday: IT'S GAME DAY. BEST DAY. NO WAY IT'S GOING TO BE A BAD DAY.
Sunday: Look at these AWESOME bruises I got from yesterday! And rugby practice is tomorrow! So soon!

And then rinse and repeat...for the next 3 months. It's such a good feeling, and we haven't even had a game yet! The best is still yet to come! But I'm already glowing all around. And it makes it even better to see the team making some awesome progress, along with getting some pretty enthusiastic rookies. It just doesn't get any better than this, and it will NEVER get old :)

P.S. I need to remember to lean forward and into my kicking when kicking for touch. I mean, when I think about it the same rule applies for kicking a field goal, but maybe since I've had so much more practice with kicking field goals I've grown out of the habit in that realm. So I just need more and more and more and more and more practice.

Monday, August 30, 2010

And so it begins...

TODAY.
RUGBY PRACTICES START TODAY.
TODAY.
TODAY.
TODAY!!!!!!!!!!

I can't wait!!! We even had over 20 people sign up for the team at our activities fair, and they all seemed really enthusiastic about it. I hope that I am doing enough fitness to be prepared for the upcoming season; I've been working hard for this moment. I've even been trying to eat super duper healthy. But I have to admit, I've had a lot of doubts in my ability over the summer and even some right now. I feel like I have no natural talent for rugby whatsoever, and that I am lucky that I love the sport so much and work so hard at it or I would just be left in the dust. I feel like if I don't work out and do every-single-little-thing I possibly can to be in shape for a game, then I'm going to be awful. I envy the players who skip practices, hate running and working out, and can still step on a rugby field and absolutely dominate. Maybe they have some sort of unbreakable mentality about themselves that makes them so good, and maybe they rely on that more than sheer hard work. And I'm not saying that I don't like working hard and putting a lot of effort into rugby, but it does cause me a ton of stress and pressure that I personally put on myself. I hope that I can get to the point where I am confident enough in myself to think that no matter what, I will dominate on the rugby field.

I'll get there, someday.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Losing is not the same thing as failing.

So the summer is basically over and I may not have met my expectations for what I wanted to accomplish with rugby training. But I cannot think of it as if I failed, and I cannot think that I am doomed to have a bad fall season because of it. First of all, I need to think back to my freshman year of college when I began my rugby career: I did no preparation whatsoever for rugby because I had absolutely no idea I was going to be playing it in the first place, yet I still excelled from how hard I worked during the season! Yes, for my sophomore year season the crazy amounts of training that I did the summer before definitely proved to be helpful, but hopefully the amounts of experience I continue to gain will only help me move forward and progress.
I guess there were some setbacks and things left unaccomplished this summer. I spent from May to mid July in a cast, and even still after that a few weeks in a splint/brace. During that time I did not get to do as much running as I would have liked, and I obviously couldn't do any sort of weight training. Also, the addition of working 40 hours a week was really draining for me. I was not used to waking up so early and keeping the same amount of energy for all the hours I worked. It definitely made it more of a challenge for me to go to the gym after working a long shift and just wanting to pass out for the night. I couldn't go running outside as much because my job already had a ton of time spent in the hot hot hot sun. And of course working until 5pm or 6pm every weekday made playing on any sort of rugby team impossible. On top of all of this, my sneakers right now are absolutely demolished, and there are no new sneakers in sight. On one of the shoes, you can literally see THREE of my toes sticking out (one of them being the big toe). There is absolutely no support in my sneakers anymore, so it's painful to run. This is not an excuse, and I hate it that everything I just listed sounds like an excuse, but more so they're reasons why I need to work harder. Which I will!
Although my mind wants to tell me that I completely failed this summer, there are some positive aspects that I would like to remember in my defense. I completely ignored the doctor's orders when I had my cast on and I still ran outside and inside. Maybe not as far and not as fast, but I still went running with basically an extra plaster weight on my left arm! Imagine if I did follow the rules, and didn't do anything from May to mid July; God knows what would've happened!!! And when I think about it, although it seems to me like I didn't run a lot, I never went longer than a week without running. That's not really the end of the world. And I did some nice speed workouts along the way. Something that I think actually became better out of this summer than previous trainings is weight training. WOW, boy do my arms feel stronger! And I really focused on building SO many more muscles than I have in the past which will make a good impact. AND, my KICKING has improved tenfold!
I think I'm on the right track, but I just need to step up my running. I know that with me and running it never seems like enough, but I think that's where I like to excel the best in rugby: being the absolute best support for every-single-person-on-the-field. I like being able to get out of a ruck and still be able to sprint up the field to be the first person either to get a pass, hit someone, or dive into a ruck. I don't ever want someone to have to run up the field alone, and I don't EVER want someone who makes a sweet breakaway to have to end up paying for it. But luckily, it's nice to know that although I didn't do the amounts of running I had planned, I can still run a 7:10 mile. It's a good place to start.

Overall, I am super excited to get back into the swing of fall rugby season, where it's time to buckle down and focus....and the entire team agrees on that. I can really feel the energy already, I see people on the team who are feeling the same energy too which makes me really hopeful. I've got a good vibe about this upcoming season.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Educating the youth.

SO, today at work (I work with kids ages 11-12), I brought my rugby ball and kicking tee because we had a field trip to a national park that had really big open fields to play on. I didn't think that the kids were going to be that interested because of the complexity of the sport, but they actually loved it. I think that what I did with the kids today for over three hours people should try and do for newcomers to the sport, during practices on various teams, and especially children to expose them to the idea of rugby. Today we actually pulled off a flag rugby game, and it worked beautifully! I thought it was going to be such a fail, because I had to think of a way to play it with the kids while minimizing the amount of contact but still making the sport as fun and lively as it is.
I even think this could be better than the touch rugby that we usually do at practices (except we could instill a little more contact that the amount I had to subtract for the kids); I've always hated touch rugby because I think it's so unrealistic and doesn't practice certain skills that you need. Tagging someone in rugby just by tapping them almost throws away half of the offensive opportunities you're given in rugby, and I'd say almost 100% of the time there is contact involved on offense anyway (hence the touch rugby making offense almost useless, way to long, and practically needing breakaways to score). I think that the flags around the waist is much more realistic, and closer to the area that a person aims for to tackle someone anyway. It also leaves room on offense for players to make moves, break through the defense more, and actually go into contact. So many epiphanies!!

Here are some rules for flag rugby I came up with on the fly that worked well:

- The kids wore a belt with two flags that were attached by a velcro. When someone pulled one of their flags, it was considered a tackle.
- Instead of rucking, the person who got tackled would put the ball between their legs, as if they were rucking over the ball. That team on offense had four seconds to get the ball off the ground (I figured that was the most logical amount of time that a scrumhalf usually has to get the ball out of a ruck), and if they didn't after four seconds then the team on defense could attempt to take it.
- With the kids, there weren't really set positions for simplicity purposes; I didn't want to bombard them with a ton of rules at once. So anyone could take the ball out of a ruck, and I didn't really go over rules of obstruction, but the rules of offsides and no forward passes were still well alive and active.
- I couldn't figure out how to do scrums without any contact, but we still did line outs which I was surprised worked! One person would throw the ball out of bounds and over their head, like normal, but the two teams would line up in two lines the same width as a regular line out. Instead of lifting anyone in the air though, the ball would be thrown in right down the middle (not necessarily all the way to the end of the line out) and both teams would try and grab it. They really liked the line outs, and they were always really excited to try throwing in the ball!

They also really loved trying all the different kinds of kicks and passes. And some of the girls got really hot and asked if they could still play rugby but with water balloons, which at first I thought was a ridiculous idea but then realized could actually be beneficial! If you play with water balloons as a rugby ball, you obviously have to take serious care of the ball so that it doesn't explode, and you almost need to catch the ball/balloon with two hands or else it'll blow up or hit the ground and blow up. People should always catch with two hands in rugby anyway, so it would be really cool to play that sort of version where it's legit vital! It sounds like super good practice for hands and passing in general!

So anyways, it kind of drove me insane that the younger generation does not know at lot about rugby at all. Today was the first exposure to the sport that some kids had ever seen, and a lot of them wanted to keep playing and play on a team! I wish that rugby was more popular here, and that kids got a chance to play it more (even just a CHANCE! There are literally almost ZERO opportunities for kids to play rugby...but a ton to play football....which makes no sense). It would improve a person's game SO much. I hope I can continue to do what I can to contribute to rugby in the United States in very little ways :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

PHEW! Boy has it been a long run...literally. Now that I work about 40 hours a week, I've had to bend over backwards to find the time and strength for rugby training. It's been really hard to drag myself to the gym after working 9 hours in a row. But, there's no way that I can let up for a second. I may not be able to give my 100% best effort all the time right now, and I may not be doing as much as I possibly can to get ready for rugby, but I just need to get through this part of the season and come out of it in at least some sort of decent shape. This is by far the hardest part of the season, because sometimes my will power and my body's exhaustion want to tell me that rugby season is over and that I don't need to worry about working out as hard or as frequently. But that couldn't be any farther from the truth; if anything it's actually the complete opposite. It's most important for me to work out as much as I can right now so that I don't come back into the fall unprepared and behind. These are the overtime hours that will really put me one step ahead. Like I have always said and believed, rugby season is never over.
I'm happy that I can still maintain under an 8 minute mile though, that's still a decent speed to have under my belt. But obviously there is still immense amounts of room for improvement. I hope that I can still maintain some good endurance in running; it's been a little harder to work on endurance with my time restraints, but I have to try harder to make sure it's not completely ignored. I have also really started to utilize various exercise machines at the gym to work out every main muscle group in my body. What's funny is that not only did I used to overlook almost all of the machines, but there were different muscles that I always ignored and thought of as sort of silly to work out. For instance, I always thought it was sort of funny that people worked out their back muscles, unless they were super old and weak since that sounded like the only legitimate purpose to it. But now when I think about it, every single muscle is needed in rugby. There isn't one that you don't use! And, I think it's actually really important to work out your back for rugby, especially when you think about how many times you're hit there, you land on it, and how much you truly use it for almost everything you do. Realizing how the seemingly silly back muscle work out proved to be important for rugby, I decided to make sure that I give the same, undivided attention to every other piece of my body since they're all equally important for rugby. I can definitely notice my arms growing in size, because now instead of doing a few dumbbell work outs I have been working out my biceps, triceps, wrists (even more important now since I broke my left one, so it's weaker than usual), chest, and deltoids all separately and all getting the same amount of attention. I have even gotten into doing leg workouts outside of just running, because I'm sure that there are certain things various exercises and machines can do to strengthen my leg muscles that running can't. As much as I catch myself on a regular basis questioning my work ethic and efforts for rugby and whether or not I'm doing enough, I'm at least putting in a decent amount of thought to this and trying to get on a good regimen based around the circumstances I am given.
Also, I have come across a rugby video game! It is called Rugby 2006 from EA Sports (bahaha), and I think it's hysterical. I can't play any "real matches" yet because I'm super unfamiliar with video games and lose virtual matches against South Africa at least 70 - 0, and I can't help but get disappointed, upset, and feeling like crying since it's still my little cyber rugby team getting crushed. But I think it's so much fun and really funny to practice kicking, tackling, and the "side step, shoulder charge, and hand off (a stiff arm, haha)." I think in a way it's actually somewhat helpful to remember all these little tactics and specifics to rugby, because sometimes they can be overlooked (especially in the heat of a game moment). That's why you need to know all these little things almost like they're on the back of your palm, because they're all the little things that count and matter so much in a rugby game. And the practice drills that you play on the side to learn the controls of the game are actually drills that I think would be really cool to do in real life! There was even a practice drill for drop kicking for points, and it made me realize how much I should practice that more. I guess in general I would say any sort of exposure to rugby, whether watching it or playing it (in real life or virtually, ha ha) is extremely beneficial to someone's rugby game. I'd love to use this video game for chalk talks with the team....my real human rugby team, that is, haha.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

AND...

I found out today that the sweet documentary about the real Springboks team that the movie Invictus is based off of is called The 16th Man Education, and narrated by Morgan Freeman (so you can't go wrong). But what an awesome title!! It's funny that I even get excited over the awesome depth I see in just the title, which I could be totally making up, but I like thinking about the "16th man" in rugby - the person that isn't necessarily on the field playing but still a major contributor.

Teeny tiny pat on the shoulder.

YES. Today I practiced kicking again for a few hours and I had quite the turnaround since the mental breakdown I had a little while ago with it. Not only did I see some improvement, but I definitely realized something I was doing wrong which I consider a HUGE success. Ha ha, I absolutely love it when I am able to point out my own faults and mistakes! Now I know exactly what to work on, and when my kicking doesn't go right I know what I can fix. Before kicking a field goal, I usually try and calculate in my head exactly how many steps I should take back, what angle I should be at, and the number and size of strides I need to take before kicking the ball so I build up enough momentum and have enough power to accurately kick the ball. Sometimes, in this calculation I've finally noticed that I am overestimating where to position myself so I end up way too far away from the ball. Today I tried to focus a little more and be a little more exact as to where I should position myself, and it made all the difference. I even started playing "around the world" field goal kicking style and had success in it! I'd say I made over ten field goals today, which is a nice progress compared to the negative amounts I have made in the past.
I need to remember where I began in this journey to learn how to kick field goals. First of all, before any sort of practice with this, I haven't even had much experience with kicking in general; I played soccer until I was about 10 years old and then completely dropped it (although it seems like a really fun sport...I wish I played it more!). When I first took a shot at practicing any sort of kicking, I could barely get the ball off the ground. HA, I remember when I first tried to attempt drop kicking, I ended up flat on my back...Charlie Brown style. I practiced in all sorts of conditions. I don't think I'll ever forget kicking the ball around (horribly, it was an ugly sight) in the middle of my school's quad and in the middle of pouring rain, and hearing people laugh and holler at me from different dorm windows. Totally embarrassing, but I still ran around in the mud practicing kicking anyway. And drop kicking in the snow was almost impossible, but for some reason I thought if I practiced it enough times I would see some sort of improvement. But I did one heck of a lot of research for all sorts of rugby kicking, just like I did when I wanted to play scrumhalf and researched tips and drills for passing, and I think that really helped. I also had some help from a few teammates who are really great at kicking, and I think with these two knowledgeable sources and a ton of practice I made baby steps. My first successful drop kick was like a miracle, and now I do all the drop kicks for our team! I definitely have an incredibly long way to go, but even getting the ball off the ground is progress from where I began. And the same goes for field goals; they have taken me even longer than drop kicking to see progress in. Even up until our first game last fall season, I could not make it ANYWHERE NEAR the posts even if you lined me up right in front of them super close. It kills me that we lost that game by a very very small amount, an amount that could have been made up if I had made my field goals. I did not make a single field goal the entire season, and even in the spring I never made one. But I still continued to practice-practice-practice-practice-practice-practice-practice. I even marked out a tree behind one of our school's buildings that was the perfect high of rugby posts and aimed over that (probably killed a few birds in the process...it's fine). I got some books with really fine tune details about where and how to position your foot in field goal kicking, and I started making progress. I one day had a freak accident field goal that turned out being perfect, and from there I at least thought that it was even possible for me to make a field goal. But after that I started to really get into the calculating part of field goal kicking, and focusing on every aspect of it. And that's when I started to get almost 50-50 with my kicking. I was able to make a decent amount of field goals, but it was definitely a gamble and not consistent. But from the constant amount of practice I put into it, I FINALLY had some success with it in the alumni game. I made all three of my field goals in a game situation, and I'm really proud of myself even though it means nothing at all and most of the kicks were fairly easy and near the posts. So a little while ago when my kicks went back to being dismal, it was infuriating because of the past amount of effort I have put into it! But I guess it shows that no matter how much practice I have put in before, does not mean I can suddenly stop and put it to rest. Today was great, but I can't think that it's okay for me to take a break from practicing kicking. Especially since my wrist is still bummed out and I have no time to play on a real team, it really is one of the only things I am still capable of practicing that is rugby related.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

At the root of it all.

My schedule is getting busier and busier, which means that it's going to get harder for me to figure out a work out plan and I'm going to have to plan a lot more around fitting time in to adequately train for rugby. Just because I'm developing more priorities over this summer, doesn't mean that rugby stops becoming one. This wouldn't be so difficult if it was during rugby season, because the reasons to stay in shape are clearly right in front of me during practices and games where I utilize what I'm building up. But the "off-season" (although in my rugby philosophy, this does not exist), it is sometimes harder to discipline yourself.
The other day I was thinking about why it is so important that I make sure I don't slow down my progress in training and make sure that I continue to push myself just as hard, and deep down I know there is no better reason I can think of than for my team. The reasons of working hard for rugby in order to stay in shape/lose weight or become a superstar just end up being so fickle. They absolutely do not last. Sure, they're great things that can also develop from training really hard, but no goal will push me more than the thought that I am helping my team. I want to get better for them so that I can contribute to my team, and any other team I may play on, as much as possible. As much as I always depend on my team to help me and back me up on the field, I want everyone else to rely just as much, if not more, on me too.
It also drives me up the wall that everyone who knew me in the past as being athletic in other sports still cannot grasp why I have completely transferred over to rugby. While playing softball last weekend with an old teammate, I heard a comment from her that I've heard so many times before that always drives me up the wall: "I'm just really shocked that you ended up not playing softball in college. I never really thought you could stop playing, especially since there were teams that wanted you to play for them." People keep talking like I "gave up" on my old sports and picked up rugby as a "runner up" to those sports. It's not that I didn't like my other sports any less, I just liked rugby more. Even tonight my dad asked me, "Do they have flag football at your school? How come you didn't decide to play that?" I didn't decide to do flag football because I WANTED TO DO RUGBY! Everyone keeps giving me these different options, asking me if I've heard of this league and that league and if I've ever played tennis or tried this sport. Some people have even asked me if I still plan on trying out for my school's softball team, or if I plan on looking for a different college that I can play softball at. What is everyone's problem with rugby?! The thing that drives me insane is that about 99% of these people have no idea what rugby is, no idea what they are talking about, and have never seen a rugby game in their lives. The thickness of these people's logic is almost unbearable.
And it really seems foreign to me that a person can see a rugby game or play a rugby game and not instantaneously fall in love with the sport and the culture. I always tell myself that the people who don't like rugby have just never seen or played it. But when someone has seen/played rugby and still doesn't like it...that person seems almost inhumane to me. I've come across some of these cases personally, but two really stick out in my mind. One was a guy who began going to practices but ended up with a cracked rib from being tackled. He immediately stopped going to practices and bitched forever (and still does) about the fact that his school doesn't have a football team. But the sports have a decent amount of similarities, especially in the things that many guys look for when picking a sport (aggressiveness, being able to hit people, etc...), that I can't imagine someone being sooo obsessed with one and not liking the other at all. And the things that rugby has seem to just make it an even better version of football! You don't have to stop after every single play, the fun goes on forever (sort of, ha ha)!! The other person played for a few months and then completely threw rugby out the window. I think he described an injury he got as well happening right before he quit, but I would have thought that the months of awesomeness in playing rugby that he experienced first would have prevailed! I gave the first case a teensy little benefit of the doubt, telling myself he was unfortunate to experience a serious injury so early in his rugby career and not being able to learn that these injuries are not common in rugby. But this second guy....has no excuse in my book. None. I just don't get it!! I also remember meeting a perfectly random stranger that came up to me and started talking about rugby when he saw my sweatshirt from the team. He called rugby "polite violence" which I think is hysterical and I love using it on a regular basis. But he told me that he played one game of rugby and then decided he would never play it again. For some reason I feel like he also had an injury story to go along with the ending of his rugby career, which makes me ponder about the percentage of people who experience an injury (broken bone, concussion, etc.) and never play rugby again. I sure as hell hope this number is not high because I hope that my rugby game is not hindered at all when I go back to playing after this injury of mine. Luckily I don't think I'll ever have to worry about not wanting to play after an injury; the only thing I have to worry about is if a day ever comes when I'm physically taken out of commission (KNOCK-ON-WOOD). And when my father came to watch me play for the all star team, I couldn't stop thinking about how all the confusion in his head over why I stopped pursuing my Division 1 softball opportunities for rugby would come to an end. I thought that once he saw me play, he would immediately realize what it is that I love to do so much. But his comment tonight really threw me off; I totally thought that he had comprehended why I love rugby so much. I thought the interrogations from him would be over because he finally witnessed the greatness of rugby right in front of his face.
I guess this all just sounds so weird to me because I never experienced the problem of developing a love for rugby; I literally liked rugby IMMEDIATELY. It took me absolutely no time to fall in love with the sport, and I kick myself every day thinking about how blind and oblivious and unknowing of rugby I was until college. Another part of my rugby philosophy is that I truly believe absolutely anyone can play rugby because the sport is so accepting of all people. So it's strange to me that the opportunity exists for everyone to play rugby, and that not everyone takes advantage of it...mind boggling!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The more you suffer, the more it shows you really care.

Woooooooooo, I literally almost blew major chunks after my 5 mile run today. I know normally that's not really something that people get excited about, but I obviously wasn't aiming at some sort of weight loss goal or something. The only reason why I feel a sense of excitement and relief at the same time when I feel like I'm literally going to throw up after running is because it is physical proof that I worked my hardest and pushed my body to its ultimate limit. Sometimes I have a really tough time being satisfied with my training and work in rugby, and I feel like I never ever do enough and that there is more I could be doing. But when I almost throw up, then there really is nothing more I could have done to make me reach that point, no matter what point that is. Whether or not it's the level I want to be at, it's either at the level I'm currently at or almost past it because my body is that exhausted. Before rugby season last year, I would actually go through with the throwing up and not stop running/training until I did....it was almost like a necessity that I needed to check off before completing any training. But looking back on it I obviously realized how unhealthy that is (though once rugby season comes around again, that logic may not be there again and it may show back up on the check list...). I hope that I can keep pushing myself and not let myself fall off track. And I really hope that sooner or later I can convince myself that I am actually making progress and not behind like I always do. The only thing that I can do though is never give up!
Also my cast is officially off! In a strange way I'm going to slightly miss my highlighter yellow sleeve, but hence the SLIGHTLY. The doctor said that he could still see a crack in my wrist though, so I'm in a splint for at least two weeks. But this doctor doesn't know me...and he doesn't know that if it's removable I'm going to take it off and break every single rule given about wearing it. I already played softball with it on, which is a ton of wrist usage that I am sure I'm 100% not supposed to do, and if I had the time to do rugby I would have been on a rugby pitch directly after leaving the doctor's office. I'm pretty good I think at ignoring injuries and being super oblivious to their severity.
I also heard about a documentary existing that's about rugby in the United States.....WHAT?! How did this masterpiece of an idea of a film slip by me without me knowing about it?! It's called "A Giant Awakens, the Rise of American Rugby." Helloooooooo that sounds AWESOME! Already have it in my shopping cart at amazon.com, and the minute I'm not broke or once school and rugby season starts up again (whichever comes first) I am buying it in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Zen of Rugby

The other day in a book store I found a series of little books titled "The Zen of....." and then a specific activity such as surfing, hiking, and mountain biking. Inside the books were little quotes of the peace and enjoyment people get out of doing the activity, and I immediately thought of how I could write an entire novel about the zen of rugby and the peace and enjoyment I get out of it. I started thinking of how I would describe the zen of rugby:

Rugby just makes you feel on top of the world. The high that you feel while running your hardest up the field to support a teammate, make a tackle, or run the ball is almost indescribable. Being on the field is like standing on a sacred battle ground, and you couldn't imagine being there with anyone else besides the other fourteen players that are standing by your side ready to aid you at any given moment. They're like your family, and as much as they look out for you, you can't imagine letting one of them do anything on the field alone. The reason why you are so close with these people on the field, no matter who they are, is because every single feeling and emotion that you feel on the field, the team feels. And the same goes the other way too, you feel everyone else's emotions on the field as well. Almost everything experienced on the field is experienced by all fifteen people at the same time. Making a good tackle is like tearing down a building by yourself. It's quite an accomplishment to be able to bring down such a big force charging right at you, but you only have a fraction of a split second to enjoy it before having to get back up and do it all over again and again and again. All these little successes in being a powerhouse tackler build up into a rush that makes you crave it. When you run the ball, you almost have to plug yourself in and radiate so much energy and force that no one can dare to stop you. Every person that runs at you in an attempt to bring you down and stop your progress is stopped in their tracks from your overpowering self confidence and quick thinking. You dodge left and right, and when someone manages to actually avoid your moves and get in your path, you just mow them down with force and keep on trucking. Rucking involves becoming a brick wall blocking the other team from getting what is rightfully yours, possession of the ball. You almost want to punish the other team's ruckers for even thinking that they can attempt to take the ball possession away from your team. You feel their force against you, but no matter; you dish it right back to them in bigger and better amounts. As much as you need to have the highest level of confidence and belief in yourself and your team, there is no time to underestimate and dismiss the opponent. They are just as strong if not stronger than you, but unfortunately for them you're just one step ahead. With this in mind though, going a step off even for a second can give your opponent an opportunity to run over you, so you must be absolutely 100% focused and hard working for the entirety of the game. Mistakes and errors don't matter as long as no time is wasted dwelling on them and self confidence isn't decreased...

Good God I need to stop myself or I really will write a whole novel! But with all the stress I've put on myself with this sport, I think I need to step back and really think about "the zen of rugby," and remember what it is about this sport that makes me love it so much and work as hard as I do.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

No regrets.

This cast has obviously been such a nuisance, even at the moment it is so uncomfortable and painful I can hardly sit here in bed with my sanity. But every single time I am bothered by my cast (which is A LOT), I ask myself, "Worth it? Still worth it?"

And every-single-time the answer is still yes.

Even though I've had to endure six weeks of awfulness with this cast on, I still would not take back the tackle I tried to make in the alumni game. And I think that's a really good thing, because if I regretted trying to make that tackle the slightest bit then when going back into rugby I may develop fear and hesitation for tackling in general. But on the contrary, you can put me in a body cast for life before I hesitate to make a tackle. I don't plan on backing down one bit after all of this is over :)

Sometimes I still replay the scene in my head, when I got schooled and everyone laughed at me and made fun of me for a while after the game for getting owned and trying to make a bad tackle. But why were they laughing? I'm not ashamed. I don't think it was something to make fun of someone about and be embarrassed about. I'm actually really proud of myself, I don't care how stupid I looked. I guess people can laugh at me getting plowed over by other people forever, but that won't change the fact that I'll still get back up and try 10000% to run head on at someone and tackle them.

Friday, June 4, 2010

All that work and what did it get me?

Merrrr today was not a very good day in terms of my attitude. I got pretty bad; I practiced my kicking today and it was all around not a pretty sight. It was a dismal two hours, but I think that I need to get all these unproductive, frustrating thoughts out of my head now and leave them behind. All I could think about while vigorously practicing my kicking by myself in an abandoned field was why all my effort seems to be getting me nowhere. I feel like I've worked my body down to the bone over and over again to have no improvement. My failures seem to be weighing out my successes and it's really frustrating. I can't stand it. It's so hard to constantly fail and still get back up and try again, if not harder, to fail ALL OVER AGAIN. When the hell is it my turn to do well (rhyme)?! Why hasn't any of my work paid off, while there are still people out there who are so much better than me with half the heart and love for the game that I have and who don't work even close to as hard at it than I do?! Am I just not a natural rugby player?! Should I not be here?! Is this not my thing?! Am I wasting my time?! Giving my every ounce of effort seems to be not enough. I feel like I haven't accomplished anything!!!

BUT,
who cares.

I don't care if I never become an exceptional player or never become MVP or never even get to play scrumhalf. I will never ever ever ever ever ever ever quit in rugby. Not for a single second. I will always get back up and try again. Whatever the outcome, no matter how good or bad, I will always always always give every drop of effort I possibly can. It doesn't matter if in the end I still suck and I get no reward or recognition for my hard work, it's just not like me to give up. It's what I've based my life off of, the idea that you can achieve any goal with absolute hard work, determination, and heart. I know that in rugby I have an infinite amount of all three of those traits, so I cannot give up on myself or stop believing in myself. I know for a fact that I absolutely LOVE rugby more than almost anyone, and I cannot live without it. That's what will carry me so much farther, because I will never be able to stop trying. It's so hypocritical for me to say that if you don't believe in yourself while playing rugby you can almost never succeed and then not fully believe in myself. And that's what I absolutely love about rugby; when you get that ball in your hands, and when someone is charging at you, you almost have to think of yourself as being like Godzilla and not letting anyone get in your way. You have to crush everything in your path. I need that mentality; I need that fire in my eyes. I know that I have a flame inside me in the form of passion for the game and the desire to compete and play well, but I need almost that mean, evil fire. It's not really mean or evil, but I just need to absolutely plow through people without hesitation. GAR I'll get there someday, I know so. I think I'm close, I can almost feel it in my grasp. UGH I just CAN'T give up, not now and not ever. Sooner or later I'll come out of my shell and dominate, God knows when the hell that day is but my time to succeed will come...........all I can do is hope so, and fail a million times over and over until I finally succeed.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The beginning is always the hardest.

Yiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiikes, getting back into rugby training is much harder than I expected. I mean, I definitely knew that it would be tough to get back into the swing of things, but I was pretty shocked with myself today when I finally ignored the doctor's orders and went back on the treadmill. I ran a little under 2.5 miles in 24 minutes which is HORRID and not counting the number of times I needed to pause (a smidge in my defense, my hair is long and out of control so sometimes I needed to stop and fix it even if I didn't want to). It's been 4 weeks ever since I've gone running, but I have been working out almost every day either on a bike or elliptical. I've even trained myself to do one handed planks and I'm trying to do one handed push ups. What I've found out though is that just like rugby experience, there is absolutely no replacement for running. I thought that maybe I could at least put a dent in the debt I was accumulating in my fitness, but phewww wow, the damage has been done. I guess that I couldn't expect to run my 7 minute mile after not running for 4 weeks, and I guess a 9 minute mile is not too bad of a place to start. That's the only way I can view this situation; I can't really cry over spilled milk. All I can do is get back on that treadmill and keep running and pushing myself until I'm back to where I was before. Hopefully that won't take too much time so I can focus on progressing more. I can't just sit here and mope about how bad I am now because it's so unproductive. Thank God I decided to start running today and didn't wait until 2 and a half weeks later when I'm scheduled to get my cast off. At this point, every-day-counts. I need to remember that. I shouldn't take a single day off now, and I should watch what I eat. Every little thing that I do makes a difference.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cute story.

So the other day I was sitting in a coffee shop, and suddenly this little boy and girl both about the age of 6 or 7 years old ran up to me. The little boy asked me, "What did you do to your arm?" and pointed at my cast. I told him that I broke my wrist and he asked me how I did it. I told him that I was playing a sport called rugby, and the mom began to look a little nervous that I told her children that. Then, it was the little girl who asked me first what rugby was. The mom immediately interrupted and said, "Ohhh honey it's a verrrrry rough sport, I don't think you would like it!" But I cut the mom off there and told the girl, "Yeah it seems rough, but it is in a nice way! It's kind of like soccer and football combined into one sport and it's really fun. I think you'd actually really like it, and I think you'd be really good at it!" The little girl looked at me like she was incredibly interested, even at the very young age she was. She said to me, "Oh well I play soccer and I like that sport, so I think I would like rugby too!" Then she turned to her mom with a huge smile on her face and said, "Mom can I play RUGBY?!" and then the little boy yelled, "ME TOO, ME TOO! I play football but I also want to play rugby, am I allowed to play too?!" and I told him that he was definitely allowed to play and that he would be good at it too, and both the boy and the girl got extremely excited! Then the mom laughed, said goodbye to me, and took her kids away, but I could still hear them outside saying, "I can't wait to play rugby!!!"

Those kids probably forgot about the whole thing by the time they got home, but it was still really fantastic to see a youth take such interest in rugby. It drives me crazy that not only does a huge part of the United States population misunderstand and not know a lot about rugby, but to a lot of the youth and even up until high school age rugby is almost non existent. It's sad that those two kids had no idea what rugby was but knew what both soccer and football were. Well maybe in the future when they hear someone talk about rugby again those kids will think, "Oh yeah I know what rugby is, it's the sport that the girl with the highlighter yellow cast told me about when I was younger!" hahaha. I hope that my children (biological or adopted) play rugby because of how much I have truly benefited from it. I hope that someday I can help to change the public's view on rugby and introduce it to children at a very young age. It's a nice thought.

Monday, May 17, 2010

It never ends.

It's tough being in a cast when I'm used to go go going without it. I'm trying so hard to still work out with it on, but it's super tough considering I'm not allowed to sweat a lot. I tried going on the stationary bike at the gym, but it was SO boring compared to the running I normally like to do where I pump hard, go as fast as I can, and wear my body out until I feel like I'm going to throw up my insides all over myself and my entire body is going to collapse into a blob on the floor. I had to go on the bike for an hour to try and even get something close to a work out, and my legs felt somewhat worked out after that decent time of being on a bike, but that is just sooo long to be sitting and not going very fast. But I can't just sit back and wait for this thing to come off; I have to do something. No matter what it's going to be hard enough already to get back on track for rugby. I never fully think I'm in good enough shape, and even after 3 months in a row of hardcore working out I still always feel like I have so much more to work on.
On that note, the other day my friend who also lives and dies for rugby and is one of the most passionate players I've ever seen said to me, "I still have so much to learn," when we were casually talking one time about rugby. It was funny to hear this from a person that I have learned so much from, but what I realized is that everyone always has so much more to learn in rugby because there's no such thing as actually fully mastering the sport. There are so many things about rugby that are so dynamic and always changing that there is always room for improvement and change. No matter how good you are, how much experience you have, or how many tries you've scored, you're always a student to the sport of rugby. Everyone has their own individual playing style, and every time you play with or against someone new you learn something different. It never ends, and although it sounds grueling and like a tiring endless process, it's actually what makes rugby awesome. Rugby will always be just as exciting as the first time you stepped onto a pitch because of this fact. The phenomenon of rugby will never end or leave your life! It's such a wonderful feeling :)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Worth it?


Soooo I broke my wrist. More specifically, I broke my radius and it's completely separated from my hand. I have a cast on and if in a week my wrist isn't healing straight, I'll have to get screws put into it. What's funny though is that I'm really not as sad and depressed to be in a cast as I thought I would be. First of all the cast is highlighter yellow, my favorite color, so I can't be that upset when I look at it. But also, even when thinking back to how I broke my wrist, from a bad tackle, I still can't find myself feeling that bad about it. Why? At first I was super embarrassed and ashamed that I made a bad tackle and paid a huge price for it. Everyone told me multiple times that "I got owned" and they were 100% right. But now when I think about it, I don't really regret making that bad tackle. I don't even feel afraid for when I get out of this cast and play rugby again ASAP; the second I'm good to go I'll be ready to hit someone as hard as I can. I would rather have made that bad tackle than no tackle at all. And when I say "bad" tackle, I don't mean a cheap hit like grabbing someone by the collar or making a high tackle; I just mean when you make a clean attempt and it doesn't succeed. I know that I would make 50 million more bad tackles, get plowed over and beaten 50 million more times, before I EVER just let someone get by me without putting up a fight. People can try and "own" me all day, and I'll take it, but I will get owned as many times as it takes and get back up every time until I am able to lay someone out and make that good solid tackle. A million of failures at tackling is worth one successful hit. Especially in the area of tackling for rugby, trying and failing is better than not trying at all.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Oops.

Yesterday was our alumni rugby game and it was so incredibly awesome. I really was blessed with the people that I got to begin playing rugby with. They're all so incredibly good at rugby not just because they're athletic and they know the game, but they're just such incredible people who work well with one another and look out for one another. They really are true team players, and they can get anything done together. I'm so happy that I know them and it's so much fun to play with them and play against them because they're so good! 
I really am kicking myself right now though because I hurt my wrist really bad yesterday. I feel like such a baby and that I shouldn't be complaining about it that much. One of the alumni is a super powerhouse that we played against yesterday, and people on our team were literally at one point just letting her go through without even trying to tackle her because she is that much of a bulldozer on the field! At one point there was basically a one on one match up with me and her, so I absolutely had to tackle her or she would have been pretty much home free for scoring a tri. I knew I was outmatched, I knew she was bigger and stronger than I was, but there was no way that I was going to just let her go through. So I tried going at her and tackling her....but as pretty much everyone else put it afterwards, "I got owned." Yeah, I made a super shitty tackle, she knocked me off my feet in a heartbeat (rhyme) because she had so much momentum built up already, and I landed right on my wrist. I remember specifically hearing it crack, my wrist bent back pretty far. And people made fun of me for it for a while after it happened which was even more embarrassing. I really am ashamed that I injured myself on a stupid play. But at the same time, even though I'm upset and disappointed in myself, I'm happy with the mentality I had when I at least tried to tackle her. I didn't back off like a lot of other people on our team did; when she was running at me I really did think I was going to tackle her. I ran right at her without really thinking I should back off or anything. But I guess deep down I was partially scared, and I know that I just need to work harder and I still have a long way to go. I want to get to the point where it won't matter if there's such a difference in size; I want to be able to take absolutely anyone down. 
And something else that I am also proud of is that I would break my wrist in 50 million other places before I hesitate to tackle someone. I am going to throw out every limb in my body to try and tackle someone, whether they're 100 pounds or 300 pounds. I'll get "owned" and thrown to the ground an infinite amount of times before I back down from a tackle. I hope I can keep that mentality and practice what I preach. 
But what really pisses me off is that my mind keeps trying to make me feel better about this injury by saying "Oh well, at least it happened at the end of rugby season." But rugby season should never be over. I wish that I could play in all seasons because you really can play rugby year round!! I hate thinking that I'm going to be waiting until the fall now before I get anymore rugby experience. And as I've learned, working out can only do so much. I feel like without actually playing rugby I sort of stay at a standstill with my progress. 
ALSO, I need to give myself a pat on the back with how much my kicking has improved!!! At the beginning of last fall, I could not come even close to making a field goal if you put me 10 meters in front of the uprights. But we tied the alumni game because I made three of them, one of them being the final kick to get the tie!! That was a really nice demonstration of my progress in that area, I'm so happy that I'm going somewhere with that! But I definitely still need to practice kicking more over the summer, I'm happy that I snuck off with the kicking tee after the game mwahaha. 

I think that's the mentality and the saying that I am going to keep in my head so I'll always be able to push myself and never slack off or give up:

Rugby season is never over.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Love conquered fear.

I was going to wait to write in this because I'm exhausted, but I don't think there's a better time in the world than right now to think about all the awesome rugby experiences I had this weekend. 
First of all, the quote in the title of this post is absolutely perfect to sum up how this weekend turned out: love conquered fear. For a while now I have been extremely nervous for the all star games that I played in today, and finally I think that my pure love for the game and my desire to just play awesome rugby completely conquered my fear and nerves about actually doing well. What's funny is that usually when this happens is when you end up playing your best rugby game. Before today really all I was thinking about was playing well and making sure that I performed the best that I could. I put tons of pressure on myself, and I had extremely high (and maybe unreal) expectations. At the 7 hour practice we had I proved to myself how putting too much pressure on yourself can be a really negative and bad thing, and it completely showed in my game. But I think that the change I made for these two games was what exactly I was putting pressure on myself for; instead of putting pressure on myself to be a fantastic player, I was putting a healthy amount of pressure on myself to play, experience, and learn the best rugby that I could because of how great of an opportunity this is. It definitely made all the difference, because I didn't really have as many nerves to do the things I normally do. Playing with this high level team in this high level competition wasn't as foreign and scary anymore; deep down it was really just the same game I've always played and loved to play. Knowing this, I did all the things I normally would do in a game and I did them pretty well I think! I don't think I played my very best, but I certainly think I put in a great effort, learned a ton, and gained an immense amount of experience. 
Also, I experienced 10s for the first time this weekend. I never realized how big of a difference taking out five players makes in the game of rugby! At first when we all decided to play 10s instead of the regular 15s, I didn't think it was that big of a deal because only 7s sounded like a drastic change to me. But 10s is still a decent amount more running, especially for the forwards. We took on more of a back position, which I was not used to, and there certainly isn't as much rucking in 10s. I think there is a lot more of pick and go along with quick passes involved, or maybe just quicker loose play in general. What's funny is that I have been absolutely training my butt off forever for the all star team, and I was absolutely winded from playing 10s for the first time! At first I had a heart attack because I thought that all of my training had completely failed me and that I would be completely doomed for my all star games. But during the all star 15s games I noticed the significant difference in the two, and I was much more in shape for that type of play (THANK GOD).  
I have also come to notice that rugby players are some of the absolute best people to talk to, and also some of the smartest people I have ever met (which probably goes hand in hand with why they're so interesting and great to talk to)! Not only are many of them witty and hysterical, but some of them just seem to be able to make a great conversation out of just about anything. And I don't think it's shocking or surprising; not only is rugby such a team oriented sport with everyone looking out for one another, but it's also such an incredibly smart game. There are an endless amount of strategies used in rugby, and I'd say at least half of the game requires you to seriously use your brain. I'm just so happy to be involved with this culture, the sport and the people involved in it are all completely worthwhile.  

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Trudging through.

7:18 mile today. Getting there.

This upcoming weekend is a tournament with my school's team and games with the all star team. I cannot even begin to express how excited I am that I will probably get to play 4 games of rugby in one weekend. But I cannot even bare the thought that rugby season basically ends in 2 weeks, NOOOOOOOOO. I better love every second of this weekend and the next because it's probably the last times I'll get to play rugby until next fall! I tried to play on a team back home over the summer, but usually when I'm just getting back from school their finishing up their season. So frustrating! I hope that my preparations for the all star team (and for rugby in general) have been enough. I don't know if I've ever really experienced the feeling that I've done "enough," and I probably won't really know until I actually play in a game, but I know that I can say to myself that I am working hard and putting time in.

Friday, April 16, 2010

What we do in life echoes in eternity.

I pushed down my mile time to 7:30 today....it's getting there, working progress I guess. But I think that's very important to work on; both endurance and speed because in my eyes they're both equally important. 

I'm starting to realize why before every single rugby game in the fall I watched the movie Gladiator to pump me up for it. First of all, from the get go the first scene in the movie reminds me of rugby. It's a battlefield; there's two clear sides on a field facing each other with space in between (looks just like the start of a rugby match). And I can't help but think of rugby every single time I see this first battle scene because Russell Crowe holds down the front line until one specific moment when they all EXPLODE together, and this just reminds me on a kick off when our team is together and we yell in sync, "Ready....ready....FIRE!" and all do that same explosion together on defense. Russell Crowe also says a lot in that first battle scene about the army working "as one" and sticking together, which is what a rugby team does too. 
Also, I love the idea that size doesn't matter; even the littlest guy can conquer and do something big. Russell Crowe in the movie was little literally (by being a gladiator) and physically; I'd say at least 90% of the guys he fought as a gladiator were bigger than him. I think this also holds true for rugby; size doesn't matter. You don't have to be huge to be good. David can beat Golliath all day in rugby with good old fashioned skill and athleticism. It makes me smile to think that a good rugby player doesn't have a face or a size. 
I've also thought of rugby as being sort of like a battle or a war. Just the strategy and unity of the team that goes into every move of attack is a lot like an army. We all fight together and keep pounding and pounding while being pounded at the same time. 


Siiiiiiiigh, it's a great game. A great great game. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

HOORAY!

Two of our new players learned how to lift today and they did really well! I'm so happy! 
Just needed to broadcast it because I'm so happy about it!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Drat.

Good GOD, I really bit the bullet on this one. Today was the 7 hour all star practice and I did not play well. I am extremely disappointed in myself in so many ways. My communication was non existent; I did not talk well on and off the field! I should have spoken up more, saying that I would try as many positions as I possibly can whether I am good at them or not. Although I was nice to all the girls and talked amongst them a little, I really think I could have put in more of an effort to talk to them even more, take that one step further. I was super duper shy, and it affected my game drastically. In my mind, I was sort of playing my own mother, saying, "You know better than that!" because I DO know better than that! I know that I am capable of communicating well, so there was no excuse for it at all! I know that a lame excuse (and basically not an excuse at all) for my silence was the amount of nerves I had going into this practice. And these nerves obviously affected my confidence level as well, which is practically death in rugby. Although I definitely put in my best efforts, I know there were times in my head where I may have said once or twice, "I can't run the ball, I'm not good enough," or, "Maybe I shouldn't enter that ruck because I'm not good enough." There is no time in rugby for this hesitation and doubt!! And I KNOW THIS! I-KNOW-THIS so incredibly well, and I can't believe it defeated me today. 
The coach even said to me at one point today, "Blue, you okay? Your focus is worrying me," and it really frazzled me. I had a heart attack at the thought that the coach didn't think I was focusing, because there was nothing more that I was doing than focusing on rugby during that practice and during my entire spring break. I wanted to try so so so so hard, give it my absolute all, and be phenomenal, be able to show all the hard work I have put in so far. But it's such a disappointing thought to think that my efforts were not reflected in my performance today. Horrible! Just horrible.
I thought about sending some sort of apology email to the coaches, telling them how disappointed in my own performance I was, how hard I've worked, and how much harder I plan to work before our tournament. But now I have completely discarded that thought. I wanted to cry at practice, I wanted to cry my eyes out on the way home, and I still feel like crying now, but the tears don't come because I know how completely useless they are. Crying or telling the coaches that I think I did poorly is not going to change anything. That practice is over. I did not play to the best of my abilities and the only thing to do is FIX it for the future so it NEVER happens again. I need to run more, lift more, do more push ups and sit ups, and make sure that whatever chance I get to play rugby (whether a practice or a game) I utilize it as much as possible. That's another reason why I was probably such a step off from everyone else; I have not played in a game since the last tryout for this team, which was three weeks ago, and I know that basically all the other girls had played in tons of tournaments (many of them even played yesterday). No matter how many miles I ran over my spring break or weights I lifted or push ups and sit ups I did, it was not preparation for a rugby game. Even after working my butt off and putting in 100000000% effort on my own, I still felt like I was going to blow chunks after 5 minutes of a scrimmage we had! But what's also funny is that once I've been hit a few times, I suddenly feel like I get my boost and I can run and sprint all day while hitting people and getting hit. That's probably the rugby syndrome you get into from playing the game, and I'm sure it comes faster and faster the more you play. Like I've said before, there is no substitution for experience in rugby. 
Even though I personally did not do well, that doesn't mean that the practice was bad or in any way unproductive. My failure was due to nothing but myself. The practice itself was really informative! I'm really happy with some of the new drills I got to experience and can take back to my own team here. I wish that everyone on my team could've experienced what I got to today, I am so grateful that I was even given the opportunity to go to this practice! I need to remember, I didn't even expect to make this team in the first place. I was incredibly shocked that I made it, and I've already said that I knew this was going to be very hard and I would have a tough time with it. I need to think of being on this team as an absolute privilege. I don't think I haven't thought of it as one already, but maybe I'm not realizing how awesome of an opportunity this is in general, whether I do well or not. These are great players and great coaches, and it really can't get any better than this. Each experience with rugby definitely chips away at you, molding you into a better player every single time you have a new one. I already feel whipped into shape (literally and figuratively, ha) after just a practice. Not a lot of people got to add this experience to their rugby knowledge. 
So I can't deny that I am sad, really sad, at how things went today in terms of me not meeting my own personal expectations (I still can't help but tear up and choke up while writing this). But I know that I have to nip it in the bud immediately, as soon as possible. There is no time for this! I need to get back on the bandwagon, take every resource I can find, and use it to my advantage to make me better. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Some people like to be all "chatty kathy" with it.

Phew, it has been quite the journey to train for this all star team. I really do think I'm giving it pretty much everything I've got, and it's tough for me to say that and mean it. I'm my own toughest critic, and nothing is ever good enough. Usually I never think that I am working hard enough; I always tell myself that I require more, that whatever I'm doing is unsatisfactory and that I need to work harder. Although I know I still have a long way to go, I know that up until this point I have been pushing my every limit. I've been breaking my every boundary; I've been using my every bone and muscle to the fullest. There have been so many times already where my body has been beaten and pushed as far as it can possibly go and then reused again. I caught an absolutely horrid flu for about 5 days, and every single one of those days I still did the same exact amount of training that I would have done in full health. My ankles have been absolutely dying throughout this whole process, but I have been doing every possible thing I can to not let them get in the way. I have pushed my way through incredible amounts of pain.
Maybe I am being full of myself and maybe I am overreacting to the training I've been putting myself through, but I know for a fact that I have been taking this all star team VERY seriously, and changing my whole life around for it. I have changed all of my eating habits (and I usually have an infinite appetite), and every single day I am constantly thinking about the practice that is coming up and the amount of work I still need to do in order to be prepared for it. I still feel like I only made the all star team as a water girl or something, and I think my odds are stacked against me (could be partially due to the fact that I was not even considering the possibility of me being able to make this team at all) because I knew at both tryouts that for my position I am not the typical size. But these cannot be excuses, and I know that sometimes I live for and thrive in the underdog situation. I like proving people wrong, I think that's why sometimes in sports my best year was my freshman year.
I know deep down I'm really scared, I'm super nervous. I have accepted the fact that no matter what, this is going to be really hard. But if there's anything that I have learned in life, I've learned that even though there are hard and scary things in life, you cannot avoid or run away from them. All I can do, and all I will do, is prepare myself as much as possible and face my fears full throttle. In rugby, there is absolutely no room for doubt on the pitch. You absolutely cannot think for a second you are going to fail, even if the odds are completely stacked against you. I think that doing anything in rugby with a hint of doubt probably has a 0% success rate. I have to have pure confidence in myself and the rest of the people I play with. Maybe I was only picked out of pity, or because they wanted at least somebody from every school to make it, or who knows what other reason, but I am going to show everyone (especially myself) that I deserve to be there just as much as anyone else because I leave my heart on the field every single time I step on and off it.