BY HELENA KORUBO | This essay was selected as the Runner-Up in the youth category of the Awesome Sports Writing Contest.
She’s sprinting after this other girl. All she sees is the back of her opponent’s jersey. It reads number six. Six is getting close to scoring, but if she’s learned anything this season it is not to give up. She keeps on six into the scoring area. Before six can even touch the ball to the ground, she holds the underneath and keeps it up. She hears the referee countdown, blow the whistle, and say the point isn’t awarded. She’s super cool, cool enough that her teammates and coaches kept talking about how cool it was because it was SO COOL. She is me, and I’m going to teach you how to play rugby.
First things first, ya gotta be cool. To play rugby, you have to be cool. That’s just the way it goes and if you’re not cool, then it sucks to be you. This isn’t something I can teach you. Being cool is like natural selection. Either you’re cool or you’re not. I can tell you factors that determine if you’re cool, though. These factors include, but are not limited to: keeping your grades up, respecting your mom, never doing drugs like you pledged in the sixth grade, etc. See if these apply to you. If they do, then you’re probably pretty fly.
Due to your natural coolness, you’re ready for the next phase. Ya gotta have cool coaches. If you do not, the season will not be good and you might as well quit. One way to tell if you have cool coaches is if they let you swear. Another way to tell is if they’re nice even if they yell a lot. If they’re really cool, they’ll take you to watch rugby games. They’ll also give you stuff for free. When you don’t have cleats or something, they’ll hook you up, because times are tough and things are expensive. You already know we’re trying to ball on a budget out here.
“Ya gotta bond with your teammates. Tell them how badass their tackles are. Tell em’ how they ran right through, like those other girls didn’t even stand a chance.”
Okay, so you have super cool coaches. Next thing, ya gotta learn how to play the game. Your coaches will explain it to you, but it will most likely not make sense. You can try to watch actual rugby to learn how to play, but that won’t help either. Rugby is a very confusing game. I mean, you’re reading this but do you actually know what rugby is? It’s hard to explain. Some people, when starting out, don’t even know that you tackle in the game. Did you know? If you didn’t, now you do. No shoulder pads, helmets, or any protective gear though. We’re on that real grind, not that football or lacrosse mess. Don’t worry though, if you followed step one you’re cool and you can do it. I believe in you. Make sure you actually go to practice though, that part’s important.
If you went to practice, you should have some idea of how it works. Now ya gotta play. Even when you get on the field for the first time, you won’t know what’s happening or where you should be. It’ll be okay. Your coaches and teammates will yell at you from the sidelines and if you’re lucky, you’ll hear what they’re saying. You’ll always remember your first game. Maybe it started out kinda cold that day, then it started to rain, then snow, then hail. Maybe some people started crying (but totally not me though). Maybe one girl popped her blood vessel because it was so cold. Maybe more people would have come to watch your first game if the weather hadn’t been so bad. But you got food after, and the snow made the pictures look cool, so it was worth it. Plus, if you’re like my team, you won your first game. It was so worth it.
You’ve gotten a chance to play for real, but you haven’t gotten the full experience. Now it’s time to do the most important thing after playing the actual game. Ya gotta bond with your teammates. Tell them how badass their tackles are. Tell em’ how they ran right through, like those other girls didn’t even stand a chance. Talk to them about rugby, talk to them about stuff that isn’t rugby. Communicate on and off the field. Your teammates are probably really nice because this is rugby. They’ll be cool like you because they play the same sport. They’re the people who hook you up with rides when your mom doesn’t want to drive you to practice. Your crew can also have pasta parties. Breakfast parties are good too. I’m sure these parties are fun, but I wouldn’t know because they were at another person’s house and I got too scared to go. You should try it though, I bet it would be fun.
We’ve gotten to know our rugby brethren (and sisteren?), but as I said before we ballin’ on a budget. Your team isn’t made of money, so ya gotta fundraise. You and your homegirls need to make that money so you can get nice jerseys and new equipment. If you’re rich , you could probably just donate money to your own team. I don’t know exactly how fundraising works because our coaches help set it up and show us what to do. This is what my team did: We got paid to help our coach’s former coach dig holes. She had always wanted to start a vineyard. Now she is following her dreams, which is always cool. The deal was, she would give the team a thousand dollars if we helped her dig holes and plant the grapes. She said you had to have good, positive thoughts when planting to help the plants grow. I think that’s true. I believe it, the same way I believe in you. It was fun. The adults bought us McDonald’s and this scary guy named Pickle yelled at us while we worked. It was a good time. I wore a cute outfit. In hindsight, that was a stupid idea because it got dirty, but I still looked good. I also remember the other coach that went with us rolled up his shirt like a crop top and told us, “Don’t kill the spiders because they’re not hurting anyone.” Spiders are gross, and he has a negative mindset, but all in all, the moral of this story is to get out there and raise money for your team.
“First things first, ya gotta be cool. To play rugby, you have to be cool.”
You raised the money for the hunnies, so now you’re at the best part. Ya gotta remember the season. This part is great. You think about how fun playing the game is and how your teammates and coaches are so nice; like you didn’t know people could be that nice. You’ll think of how you beat your rival team at state, but still lost because the ref sucked and has nothing better to do than ruin some kids game. You might’ve started crying (but again, not me). At the reception thing that happened after the state tournament, the whole team was super sweaty, but we got dressed up and we looked even better than usual. We had the Gucci on, the Prada on, you know the drill. You could even win an award or get nominated to be captain next season. I didn’t win captain, but I was happy to be nominated. I did get an award, it came with a water gun that leaked. This part is the best because if you ever get sad, just think about all those nice things and think about how you’re gonna do it again next season. It can only get better, even if you weren’t good this time around. You’ll kill it next time, you’ll tackle them.
Getting back to the story of me being amazingly wonderful, I chased that other girl, held up the ball. The other girl did not score a point. I did THAT, I stopped her from scoring. So, yeah, rugby is about the journey, not the destination. Like most things in life, it’s about the experiences you have, the friends you make, and the great outfits you wear. It’s about ya wins not ya losses. Rugby is about, you know, all that good stuff.
The Awesome Sports Writing Contest is an annual writing contest to inspire voices in girls’ and women’s sports. Our winners have been announced, and we will post them one-by-one over the next couple of months. Check them out and submit your essay for the 2019 contest!
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