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Women’s rugby rucking through the pandemic

By Danielle Achin

With normalcy just over the horizon for FSU’s women’s rugby team, senior Maia Almeida is eager to watch her teammates back in action on the field, although she’s graduating this year.

However, the team continues on the path for better semesters to come. Close contact with teammates is inevitable, as players deliver punishing tackles and often leave early with injuries.

Multiple players were contacted for comment, but no one responded by deadline.

Like many other teams at FSU, the CDC guidelines wouldn’t allow the women to play either fall or spring semester this year.

Almeida is from Swansea, and despite being unfamiliar with rugby until she got to Framingham State, she quickly took an interest in playing for the school.

“In college I knew I wasn’t really going to play sports or anything, and then I saw rugby,” Almeida said. “I had no idea what it was but I saw these girls running around with this ball and I ended up going to a practice.

“I should have done it my freshman year, but honestly I was just too scared,” she added.

Her position is mainly hooker on the field, though she says her coach switches the team around a lot so they get a chance to play multiple positions.

Like many other student-athletes at school, Almeida questioned whether her team was eligible for a season, as varsity sports were given the green-light to play. But after not hearing any update from the school or coach, the reality she wouldn’t have a final season set it.

“It was spring break, we were supposed to have a tournament right after, and then they extended the spring break,” Almeida said. “We were confused ... if we were still going to have it and our coach told us we weren’t.

“We were all definitely disappointed, especially the seniors,” she added. “We didn’t even get a senior home game.”

Almeida said the team made an effort to get together over the summer, but wasn’t able to because they live too far away and because of health concerns.

Despite not having her senior season, Almeida has a positive perspective on the dilemma the school faced regarding COVID-19.

“Rugby is really close contact – I get that,” she said. “We’re literally touching each other all the time. We couldn’t possibly play this right now.

“But also, we’re outside. I don’t see why we couldn’t figure something out,” she added.

Almeida said the relationship she and her teammates have is still strong even though they haven’t been together for some time.

If you are looking for an easy going sport, Almeida said there’s a place for everyone on the team, which is always looking to recruit new members with or without experience.

Although they can’t play competitively, Almeida said Head Coach Andrea Vogt is guaranteed to run falling drills during practice, and players are prepared to get knocked off their feet.

“She’s great. She knows what she’s talking about,” Almeida said.

According to Almeida, one of the biggest lessons she took from her coach is to trust herself and know she is capable of anything.

“A lot of the time at the beginning, I barely even knew how to throw the ball. I had no idea what I was doing. Then she [Vogt] started teaching me and the team,” Almeida said. “In games I would choke up though, and she would always yell, ‘Just do it!’ and so I always did.”

Disappointed she wasn’t able to have her senior year go as planned, Almeida remarked how she enjoyed every moment at FSU and though she is looking forward to her upcoming graduation, she will always miss the rush of the game and playing by her teammates’ side.

With graduation quickly approaching, Almeida leaves some advice for not only student-athletes, but every person attending FSU.

“Just keep going,” she said. “If you push through the tough times, you are always going to And out something about yourself – you just have to keep pushing through.”

[Editor’s Note: Maia Almeida is a Staff Writer for The Gatepost.]

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