Sun. May 26th, 2024

Image: Autumn Czaplicki, photo via eagles.rugby.com

After graduating from West Chester University, alumna Autumn Czaplicki moved on to USA Sevens residency in 2022 and her first Team USA cap in 2023 against Spain: an unsurprising feat from the 2019 NIRA DII champion and multiple-time point leader for WCU. 

So far for Team USA, Czaplicki has three caps on their 15s squad. She is training with the USA Sevens program. Her evolution as a player started with her parents, both longtime rugby players.

“I have a whole lot of people that love and support me,” Czaplicki said.

The summer before her freshman year of college, she started with Harrisburg RFC, where her dad drove her an hour to practice twice a week. 

“My dad would force me to go to practices every Tuesday and Thursday,” Czaplicki shared. “Harrisburg helped me understand the game and with West Chester, we built off of that.” 

Czaplicki is one of the highest-scoring players in WCU history with 192 points. This makes her the 12th highest-scoring player in WCU’s 20-year history out of 290 athletes, as of fall 2023. She is seventh in most tries scored, with 38 tries in 28 games. 

In the 7s career record book, she is the second-highest points scorer for WCU. She has scored the most tries for WCU in 7s, with 56 tries in 37 games. She is also one of two players to score four tries in one 7s match, achieving this in 2020 against Stony Brook University.

She continues to grow as she trains with Team USA. Her intrinsic motivator is simple: her future. 

“I know my potential and I know the sky is the limit,” Czaplicki said. “I have to continuously build myself and grow myself so I’m able to harvest it later in life.”

Her first cap was memorable. It came during the 2023 Pacific Four Series. She traveled to Spain to play while her brother, her father and WCU rugby head coach Tony DeRemer traveled to watch.

“It meant the world to me, it truly did,” Czaplicki said. “I was tearing up during the national anthem; it was an unreal feeling.”

DeRemer is an important person to Czaplicki’s growth as a player after coaching her for four years at college. When the news broke, DeRemer told WCU Athletics he knew she was an amazing athlete and would be a special player.

“When I found out the news, they told me you can’t tell anybody until USA Rugby released it,” Czaplicki said. “I called my parents first and the second person I called was Tony.”

DeRemer told her he would be at the game, it was the first thing he said. She shared that a sermon she attended left a message that stuck with her: “Bamboo seeds are planted and they grow under the dirt for years before they sprout. When they sprout, they grow quickly.”

Czaplicki shared, “Right now, I’m under the soil.” 

She also trains with some of the best players in the country, such as Team USA star, Ilona Maher. Every day is a challenge that pushes her to improve.

“I think the only way you can get better at things is by challenging yourself,” Czaplicki said. “You can only get better in this environment.”

Next on the horizon for Czaplicki is her first 7s cap. She is confident that she will be patient and grow like bamboo under the soil. Every player is on her own path and she trusts she will get to where she wants to be.

“I want to go to the World Cup and the 2028 Olympics,” Czaplicki said. “It would be very special.”

 


Ty Hickey is a third-year Media and Culture major with a minor in Chinese. CH983713@wcupa.edu

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