Photo submitted by Tony Deremer

 

This past fall sports season saw the Women’s Rugby team win a national championship, the first in the program’s history! Not only did they bring home a national championship, the team also happened to do it with an undefeated record, which is another program first. Truly the best season yet for a program that has been strong since its varsity inception in the fall of 2004.

One of the key members of last season’s squad is third-year Lauren Madalian, who is one of the co-captains of the team this season. I asked her about her thoughts on the Zoom ring conference and last season:

Q: How did it feel to be one of the captains of the first National Championship Women’s Rugby team in West Chester University history? What does that moment mean to you?

A: To be honest, it feels pretty awesome yet intimidating being named one of the captains of the first national championship Women’s Rugby team in West Chester University history. I say awesome because I can’t wait to work with my co-captain, Grace Larko, and with our Head Coach, Tony. Our team has never been closer and right now we are on a roll. My hope is to only make this bond tighter and lead our team to another national championship title before I graduate. Our current team has amazing talent, and with 10+ newcomers coming onto our team this year, it will help us continue the legacy that our former captains have left.

 Q: Your team also went undefeated last year, but as you just mentioned has lost some key seniors, such as Juah Toe and Haley Spangler. As one of the team’s captains, do you think the team could have made a run for back-to-back championships this fall?

A: This is the million-dollar question. Juah, Harley and Haley were THE CORE of our team last year. They led us through an undefeated season and all the way to the finals. However, I believe they have taught us all that they know. We all looked up to them, and now that they are gone, we will continue to be as strong and potentially stronger than last year. I am 100% certain that we would have brought home that championship trophy if we had a season this fall. But now that we do not, that just means we have another season of training to be stronger, faster and smarter than our opponents.

 

 Q: The team was not able to have the ring ceremony in person due to current circumstances; what were your thoughts on the Zoom call? Did you enjoy the ceremony even though it was unfortunately not in person?

A: Receiving our rings through Zoom was bittersweet, and I believe my whole team would agree. It was amazing to get the opportunity to see everyone on Zoom and hear very nice messages being spoken by head officials at WCU, including President Fiorentino. Tony made his own presentation for us and wrote up a speech that brought many of us tears of joy. Of course, I would have been over the moon if we were able to have our ring ceremony in person and give our seniors and captains the proper goodbye that they deserved. However, Coach Tony made the best of the situation.

 

In the national championship game at Harvard University, West Chester had most likely their most challenging game of the season in a hard-fought match. After not scoring in the first half, the Lady Rams scored 15 unanswered points to win the game. Fellow third-year player Bayla Shindledecker shared her thoughts about what the team was thinking at halftime, as well as the Zoom ceremony.

 Q: At the end of the first half of the National Championship game, you are down 14-0. How was the team’s morale?

A: I think our team morale was pretty high actually. When it was halftime and we were down 14–0, we were still hungry. We knew that it wasn’t time to give up, that we would put our all into those last 40 minutes. You may have heard this before, but that season our team motto was “wake up a winner.” And that day it was “wake up a champion.” During the championship game, we knew that we didn’t work that hard at practice everyday to have an undefeated season and then just lose the biggest game. We saw the mistakes we made in the first half, we fixed them, and we left everything we had on that pitch.

 Q: The team was not able to have the ring ceremony in person due to current circumstances; what were your thoughts on the Zoom call? Did you enjoy the ceremony even though it was unfortunately not in person?

A: The Zoom ceremony was really nice. I’m really happy that we got to celebrate with each other, even if it was virtually. Coach Tony set up a slide show and showed some clips from the championship game. That meant a lot to me because it brought back all the emotions from the game. When he showed the video of the last play of the game, where the whole team gathered and hugged each other, I got chills from seeing that again. Of course, I would’ve rather to be with the team for the ceremony, but I am so grateful that we at least got to do something together.

 

Shindledecker had this to say about her experience last season:

 

“Last season was honestly so surreal. The team just had this chemistry and a fight to win that I had never experienced in all my years of playing rugby. At the beginning of the season, when the NIRA Tier II coaches poll preseason rankings came out, Coach Tony showed them to us during a film session. I know for me, that pushed me to want to give my all to the team. I wanted to be the best in our tier and to show that we won’t stop at just being a good team. We had momentum, and we had a drive. We had our “wake up a winner” mindset that made us confident that we could go all the way.

 

For the full version of this article with complete player quotes, check out www.wcuquad.com. For more updates on the Women’s Rugby team or any other team, check out www.wcupagoldenrams.com

 

Tyler Grace is a third-year Economicsand Finance major.
TG885739@wcupa.edu

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