Coming together for some fast-paced action, the Youngstown Women's Rugby Club and the Steel Valley Men's' Rugby Club hosted The Youngstown Brew Cup, a Rugby 7's tournament on Saturday, July 21. Held at the former West Side Elementary School, the tournament included teams from Buffalo, N.Y.; Erie, Pa.; Pittsburgh; and Cleveland.
"We play as often as possible," said Katelyn Bowden, originator of the Youngstown Women's Rugby Club as it went through what she called a rebuilding approximately a year ago. Bowden added that they gather biweekly in the spring and fall, as well as participle in summer tournaments.
"It's not just a game and a sport; it's a lifestyle for us," said Bowden of the club, sharing that the team is very family oriented and that they hold kid-friendly practices once a week at Austintown Township Park. Bowden, a mother of two, added "We're like sisters. Our kids play together all the time."
Photos by Kathleen Palumbo, Town Crier correspondent
The Youngstown Women’s Rugby Club participated in the recent Youngstown Brew Cup, a Rugby 7's tournament, held at the former West Side Elementary School. Club members include Camella Barnette, Katelyn Bowden, Rebecca Coyne, Doris Darkadakis, Brittany England, Jennifer Foit, Tim’Aira Gandy, Stephanie Henry, Elizabeth Johnson, Marcella Jones, Jessie Keeler, Lauren Keller, Alexandra Portwood, Elizabeth Prelac, Sarah Ritchey, Jessica Sabeth, Michelle Sergi, Veronica Marie Skowron, Allison Spadaford, Jessica Rae Szabo, Lezlie Thorndike, Lindsay Wall, Jennifer Waltman, and Destiny Whitby.
The team is currently governed by President Liz Prelac, Vice President Jennifer Waltman, Bowden, who serves as match secretary, and coach Donna Stavick.
Stavick, a graduate of The Ohio State University and former member of its women's rugby national collegiate championship team, said that it was after she saw the YWRC on the news that she stopped to watch a practice. Stavick, affectionately known now as "Momma Hoss," said she now attends all team functions and, although she calls the team self-governed, assists with coaching.
"To watch them grow and get a sense of team," Stavick said of her enjoyment in seeing them joined as a city club as opposed to a collegiate team. She went on to explain that while on a university sanctioned team, members are comprised only of university student players. The beauty of a city club is that you may include both university students and non-students alike.
Inclusive of players from all across Mahoning and Trumbull counties, including Austintown, Boardman, Canfield, and Poland, members of Youngstown Women's Rugby Team come from all walks of life. They include students, workers in both retail and food service, a teacher, a carpenter, and a stay-at-home mom.
Women play with no pads. "They all tackle and they get tackled," like the men do, said Stavick, who added that all players are required to hold supplemental insurance through USA Rugby.
Bowden welcomes anyone interested to visit the team page on Facebook at Youngstown Women's Rugby Club. Whether recruiting new players, practicing, or participating in tournaments, some of which have taken the team to West Virginia and Dayton, members of the Youngstown Women's Rugby Club are out for fun, play to win, and always fully aware that they remain under the watchful eye of "Momma."