Ready to rumble
Videography by Rachel Glass
The UIC women’s rugby team plays to win — even if it means a little kicking and shoving.
Rucks, phases of the full-contact sport when both teams try to gain control of the ball, can get rough because they can be crucial turning points in the game: any team that gets the ball in their possession has a leg up on the competition.
That’s just part of the reason the players love the sport.
“You get to show off your aggression,” said Darlene Cerna, the team’s captain and a student majoring in kinesiology.
The players are part of a sport club that plays Division II rugby for UIC.
“This is one of the most passionate bunches I’ve been able to work with,” said Ryan Morse, assistant director of programs for Campus Recreation. The department’s mission is to get students to recognize their full potential. It supports and oversees sport clubs and intramural teams by providing spaces for students to play or funds for equipment.
The women’s team practices in the Outdoor Field Complex and moves to indoor UIC Campus Recreation facilities on UIC’s east side when it’s cold.
“They’re dedicated,” Morse said.
The team placed second in this year’s Great Waters Women’s Rugby Conference; they also won first place in their division.
The team members’ (minor) injuries, such as bruises, show off their hard work.
“They’re our battle scars,” joked Cristina Bravo, a student in LAS and the team’s flanker. “We’re really proud of them.”
Behind the binding and the bruising, the girls are tackling challenges and building each other up in positive ways.
“In a way, it’s kind of teaching equality and teaching you important life skills,” said Bravo, an undergraduate in neuroscience who has been on the team for over a year.
“It teaches you teamwork, it teaches you determination, it teaches you not to give up.”
“When I joined rugby, I was actually very out of shape,” said senior Bianka Martinez, who plays prop or lock.
“I hadn’t worked out in maybe like two years, and I told myself, ‘If this is really difficult, I’m not going to come back,’ and I really don’t think I would’ve come back if it wasn’t for the supportiveness and enthusiasm that the girls showed me that first day at practice.”
Jackie Marro, a front row forward, said her favorite part about the game is that it helps boost players’ confidence.
“I think it’s really cool that you can have a team full of girls that are so different and have such body diversity, and you can all play together and feel really confident about the way that your body looks no matter what,” she said.
And any diversity on the team — body types, interests, ethnicities or skill level — is welcomed. The group wants to recruit more women on campus for upcoming playoffs and tournaments.
“We are a bunch of girls who are in different grades, we’re all diverse, different people, different majors, different ages and we come together as one,” Cerna said.
“And when you’re on the team, you’re part of the family,” Marro added.
To join the team, email email@example.com