Preface: While not officially recognized yet, women's rugby is one of four emerging NCAA Emerging Sports. The sport is rapidly growing as more universities see its potential.
Brigham Young University has a long-standing rugby tradition, with the men's team winning the college national championship every year from 2012-2015. The women's team has only been a sanctioned university sport since 2015, but has grown to prominence with its national championship win in 2019.
Kelsie Taylor is one of the newest members of the team for the new season. Her story of how she found rugby and embraced her new university community is inspiring. Enjoy reading about her journey to collegiate rugby written by one of her teammates, BreAnn Duce.
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Kelsie Taylor's Motto For Rugby and ROTC: "Why Not?"
By BreAnn Duce
Junior BYU rugby player Kelsie Taylor is a force to be reckoned with on the field. Watching her tackle an opponent or run a ball through traffic, you would never guess that she just started playing rugby the year before.
Taylor Runs the Ball Against UVU Rugby
Taylor was inspired to try the sport by an influential youth leader who had played rugby at Utah State during her college days. When Taylor transferred to BYU from Weber State her sophomore year, she also decided to follow her dad’s advice and “try everything,” which included attending a women’s rugby tryout after seeing the team’s Instagram post.
Taylor grew up competing in sports like track and soccer and being competitive with her younger siblings, but touching a rugby ball for the first time (during tryouts) was the start of a whole new journey.
“Why not,” was her mindset that day, “What’s the worst that could happen?” she asked herself.
Well, it’s safe to say that a good thing happened that day, and Taylor was asked to join the team. However, her determination to branch out and be apart of her new university didn’t stop there. After considering finances, Taylor met with an ROTC recruiter and loved the opportunities and assistance.
“I really liked the experience I could gain there and the benefits of it all,” she said. “Both rugby and ROTC were a new thing for me when I came to BYU. It was not in my plans at all but... it’s honestly one of the most rewarding and growing parts of my life.”
Balancing both extracurricular commitments doesn’t come easy. As any student-athlete can attest, dedicating time to excel in your sport and education requires time management and prioritizing. With the daily rigors of ROTC training, Taylor has taken her balancing act to the next level.
Taylor Preparing for ROTC Training
“You can't neglect school or your mental health,” she said. “Actually ROTC and rugby both helped my mental health a lot. Just because it takes you away from the stressors of school or a job.”
Taylor With Fellow Members of BYU ROTC
Taylor also treasures the value of being part of a team.
“I never felt closer with a team than I have with BYU rugby,” she said. “And it’s not just because we are practicing and playing as a team. It’s just the nature of the sport, covering each other backs. We literally protect our teammates from other players and that carries over to our friendships.”
She also appreciates the diversity of the BYU squad.
“All the girls come from different backgrounds and have different stories,” she said. “But in the end, we are a team and we all have the same goals and are supporting each other, I think that’s what has changed me the most as an athlete, being able to see girls from such different backgrounds come together to support each other in rugby and life.”
Taylor With Fellow Rugby Teammates
Taylor has learned a lot playing with the 2019 championship BYU women’s rugby team and they look forward to another competitive season this spring. The sport gives her another outlet for her personal mantra that she lives by and that her conditioning coach would endorse: “Run as hard as you can right now both in your sport and in any opportunities that come your way because sometimes they are only going to come at this time and you might not get another opportunity later in life.”
So whether learning rugby, joining ROTC, switching universities, or just putting yourself in new opportunities, Taylor will remind you to run as hard as you can to the try zone.
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BreAnn Duce is a BYU student studying Public Relations and a teammate of Kelsie Taylor on the BYU Women's Rugby team. She grew up on the banks of the Bitterroot River in Hamilton, Montana and loves the outdoors, playing sports, and connecting with people. To see more of her work, visit her website, (www.breannduce.com), or follow her on Instagram or LinkedIn.
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