A Scooter's Mentality: 15 as 1

We are the Scooters. We are a self-funded, student run organization that gets together every day to practice rugby and play games on the weekends. But we are so much more than that.

 I don’t think I’ll ever really be able to put down on paper or put into words what being a Scooter means to me. It’s more than a jacket I wear around campus, more than something to put down on a resume and more than just an activity to fill my time in the afternoons. This sport is unlike any other and this team- Indiana University of Pennsylvania Women’s Rugby Team- is most definitely unlike any other.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the sport of rugby here is a little background knowledge. Rugby is commonly referred to as a “gentlemen’s sport played by barbarians.” While it is a contact sport, it is not a sport based on brutality. There are fifteen players on the field from each team. We play two 40 minute half’s in a total of an 80 minute game with a 5 minute half time. There are no pads in rugby, the only protection we wear are mouth guards. One of the most unique aspects of the sport is that the ball cannot go forward; it can be kicked forward but may only be passed backwards and laterally. If the ball does travel forward a scrum happens. A scrum is when each team sends 9 players from each side to come together in an organized formation of interlocking arms, the ball is rolled in by the scrum-half and the hookers from each side compete to hook and kick it back to their side of the scrum to gain position. When the ball travels out of bounds or “in to touch” a line out happens. In a line out, two players lift one player in the air as another player throws the ball between them and the other team’s line out and they compete for the ball. To score, a player must make it into the try-zone, much like an end zone in football and must touch it down to score, this is called a try. A try is worth five points and then a conversion kick is worth two points. At any time a player may kick the ball between the uprights to score three points. Unlike American football there are no downs or stoppages in play except a quick pause when either a penalty, line out or a scrum takes place. Also, once a player goes out of the game they may not come back in.

Now that you know a little bit more about our sport here is a short history about our team. IUP Women’s Rugby Club, the Scooters was founded in 1979. In 1997 our club joined the Allegheny Rugby Union as a Division III team. Following three years of successful seasons-making playoffs each year the club was moved up to Division I in 2001. Unfortunately, the club struggled to fulfill financial obligations and was bumped down to Division II. On a foggy April morning in 2003, while traveling to a game on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the team witnessed one of the worse accidents in the history of the PA Turnpike. 16 members of IUP Women’s Rugby Club assisted medical personal for hours, pulling people from cars, comforting the injured and aiding in any way possible. Later that year the team was honored by the Pennsylvania State Police and received the Outstanding Citizenship Award and was named Reader’s Digest’s “Heroes of the Year.” In 2010, Joey Lynn Sarkees published Earth Angels: A true Story of Heroism in the Face of Tragedy about the teams experience on that April morning. The following years the team continued to have some successful seasons and some non-successful seasons- experiencing the ups and downs as any sports team. But in May 2013 the team went undefeated and moved on to the Midwest Sweet 16s in Grand Rapids Minnesota, that same team placed in the top four Division II teams in the county and moved onto the USA Collegiate Women’s Rugby Division II Final 4 in California. Over $16,500 was raised by the team, alumni, friends, and family members to support their journey to be number 3 in the country. After a series of rebuilding years, our team hopes to do the same.

 IUP Women's Rugby Team Division II Colliegiate Women's Rugby 3rd in the Nation

We have faced many adversities this season, injuries, low funds, far games, the heat, and the everyday balance of being student run but here we are, entered in the Midwest Regionals Sweet 16’s and the opportunity to compete to be as successful as our team was back in 2013.

Once you are a Scooter, you are a Scooter for life. It is a sisterhood and a family unlike any other. We have this saying on our team that has been around as long as anyone can recollect and that is “15 as 1.” When we go out on that pitch that is what we aspire to do, play 15 people as if we were 1 person but it extends so much farther than that. I have this habit of saying “40 as 1” or however many of us are there that day as 1 because even if you aren’t a starter and even if you don’t get the opportunity to run on the pitch, you still are a part of this “15 as 1” sisterhood. None of us can succeed without all of us. And as the team did before us on that April day, going out and taking care of each other and others is an innate part of who we are.

I speak for all the Scooters when I say this, this is something we want more than anything and something we fight for every day, both on and off the pitch. Being a Scooter isn’t something that just fills our time, it fills our heart.