By: Jordan Cope, Assistant Sports Editor
Rose Kalala races up and down the turf of Burdick Field with her teammates, yelling and cheering them on during the team’s last practice before opening weekend.
She has worked hard this semester to come back from the injury she sustained at last season’s match against Catholic University.
Now one year later, Kalala, forward’s captain of Towson’s women’s club rugby team, finally had the opportunity to take on Catholic once again in their opening game of the 2015 season on Saturday, Sept. 26, and brought home a win for the Tigers with a final score of 31-0.
“Personally it’s a huge game for me,” Kalala said. “Last year, along with Rien [Hachmann, co-vice president], I was injured. I broke my ankle and I was out for the rest of the season, so it was a huge bummer. But I am glad to be playing in this one to try to make a statement.”
In 2013, Towson University’s women’s club rugby team faced a setback because of sanctions placed on them by the university that mandated they could only use university vehicles to travel to and from matches to ensure the safety of the team. Ultimately, the cost of university vehicles was too expensive for the team to make it to their games.
“We basically had to forfeit that season and use it as a fundraising year to get our funds up,” Kalala said. “We did a really good job, we followed all the rules and we got the sanctions lifted literally last week, which will make this season and years to come a whole lot easier.”
Despite facing adversity off the pitch, the team credits the club’s survival to their tight team bond and the sister-like friendships they have developed.
“We do everything together, we are definitely a tight group,” Hope Fost, team president, said. “No one is ever on campus alone, no one ever eats lunch alone and you are always with a buddy. We actually pair each other up with a mentor and it’s a big sister, little sister thing.”
The team also has a massive group chat on the GroupMe app where the girls can keep in touch with each other throughout the day. The friendships that have been formed within the team have helped them overcome adversity, and create a strong bond both on and off the pitch.
The love that Hachman’s teammates showed her following the injury she also sustained at last season’s game against Catholic is what helped her push through the pain of a torn MCL and PCL.
“It was very devastating for me,” Hachmann said. “In a sense, I felt like I was letting them down even though I was still part of the team.”
After experiencing an initial bond with the other women on the team when she joined during her freshman year, Hachmann was eager to stay involved and support her teammates in any way she could despite her injury, and did so by taking on a temporary role as a coach and mentor.
“Stepping into the coaching role I have definitely seen a different side of the game,” Hachmann said. “When you are playing, you are able to see everything on the field, but when you’re a coach you’re able to see the players actually performing the skills and it helps you. It is going to help me when I come back onto the field.”
Because she was cleared to return to play just last week, Hachmann was sidelined for the team’s first game on Saturday.
“I will be there to support them and I will be there as a coach and a mentor,” Hachmann said. “I feel that I need to play my part on this team. Everyone has a part that they need to play and I really want to make sure that our team has everything that they need to do well.”
In Towson’s first match of the season, Hachmann cheered the Tigers on to a 31-0 victory over Catholic. This was a complete turn around from the 51-0 loss in their game against Catholic last season.
To secure the win, fullback Masha Romanchak recorded a hat trick and inside center Miracle Davis and captain scrumhalf Sandy Zvitkovitz recorded other tries.
“We’ve seen a ton of improvement,” Head Coach Sara Nittinger said. “We started out with a bunch of brand new players so there was a bit of a learning curve but I like where we are right now.”
While Towson is off to a 1-0 start, the team has high aspirations for this year and will not be satisfied with anything less than greatness.
“I think we have come into this season with the mindset to really turn this program around,” Kalala said. “We wanted to hit the ground running and go up. At the beginning of the season, we had a meeting with the leaders on our team to talk about the expectations for this year and how we wanted the season to go. We wanted to raise the intensity so that everyone was ready to go.”
In their remaining conference schedule, the Tigers will face UMBC, Salisbury and American University before the start of the postseason and they couldn’t be more excited or ready to play.
“It’s a huge feeling to wear that jersey,” Fost said. “I think we do a really good job of representing Towson when we’re on the field. We play with our hearts, as a family and as a team.”