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Meet the Women of Penn State Rugby

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"I started playing rugby when I was in 8th grade, for Fallbrook Girls Rugby Club, which is in my hometown," says Kayla Canett. "One of the P.E. teachers was the U14 boys coach and said I ought to try it out and told me about the girls' practice. They had touch rugby on Sundays a month before the actual season started, so I showed up one Sunday and haven't looked back since..."

Canett calls her experience with rugby "an absolute dream." It's allowed her to travel around the country and the world, as she went on two series stops on the HSBC 7s Series, with the National Team to Dubai and Sydney. She got capped with the 15s National Team in the Can-Am series, playing two matches against Canada. She was also part of the team that won the 15s National Championship.

"I enjoy rugby, because it's such a simple game that has brought me so much joy and happiness. You get to spend hours on end with your best mates tossing around a ball and running around. A lot of my teammates point out how I tend to have a little smirk whenever I'm playing," says Canett. "I guess I do, it's just a natural thing that happens; I don't even realize I'm doing it until I see pictures after. I think the most satisfying part of playing is when everything starts to click for the team. When we practice weeks and weeks on our structure, and one game it just goes wonderfully, it makes you realize focusing on the little things is important and it's just such a relief when we finally get it all right. Also, when you plan a specific move and it goes just as expected or you set someone up, it's so thrilling to watch. I sometimes catch myself just standing there because of something amazing I just saw, but then realize I still have to keep playing."

Canett says rugby has changed her life and personality in multiple ways. Because of the travel and many people she's met associated with rugby, she says she feels more outgoing and sociable. Playing has also taught her to manage her time more efficiently, and truly push herself. However, she gives plenty of kudos to her teammates, too. "I really wouldn't be where I am today without the help of a lot of special teammates and my family, who've made me want to work hard and excel to make them proud."

She encourages other young women to take up rugby, even if it seems a little intimidating at first. The rewards include lifelong friends and a huge confidence boost. For her, she says it's the best decision she ever made.

After graduation, Canett plans to train at the Olympic Training Center, where the Women's National 7s Team practices full time, with aspirations to continue playing at a high level for as long as possible.

"Rugby has given me the confidence to explore new opportunities, the skills to manage a rigorous schedule and the willingness to put myself in an uncomfortable situation," says Tess Feury. A born athlete, Feury has played rugby almost since she learned to walk, shaping her into the person she is today.

"Rugby has made me become a part of something that is so much bigger than myself. I now make choices with the mindset that my actions affect my teammates and can ultimately impact the sport in a positive or negative way," Feury comments, going into detail about where it all started. "I was very blessed to be introduced to rugby at the age of four. I played flag rugby throughout my childhood and started tackle rugby when I entered high school. My two older brothers play and my dad coached my high school team so rugby was always something that brought my family together."

After playing for PSU Women's Rugby Club, rugby is now so much more than a game to Feury, saying "I love rugby because it is a unique sport that brings unique people together. I’ve met people from so many different backgrounds and places and I can now say I have friends all over the world because of rugby. I have had the opportunity to represent the USA in addition to Penn State, and putting on a jersey for your country is an indescribable feeling."

Now a senior in PSU's nursing program, Feury is looking ahead to graduation and completing her degree. She plans to work as an oncology nurse at a large hospital, applying the teamwork skills and work ethic she refined in the Women's Rugby Club.

Even with a big career ahead of her, Feury is still keeping her eyes on the game."I definitely want to keep rugby in my life and give back to the game by continuing to play and coach," she says.

When asked why young women should become involved in the sport, she adds, "I would encourage any young girl looking to grow her confidence to play rugby. Rugby has given me friends, family, experiences and opportunities. It is an empowering sport that can change the way you approach life’s situations. I would encourage any young girl to pick up a ball and give it a shot."