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Just Jillian…| Guest Post—by Victoria “Vix” Folayan: A rugby player.

In support of USA Rugby and the Eagles 5th place finish at the Women's World Cup just moments ago (beating Ireland 40-3), I present a guest post by Victoria “Vix” Folyayan—a member of the USA rugby squad who plays wing. Enjoy! … Rewind 8 years back. Spring of 2002. Its senior year of high school and I'm visiting Stanford for Admit Weekend. I've been given a free flight to check out one of my prospective colleges. I'm completely stoked! A trip without the parents, going to a college, and EVERYONE is so friendly. :-) Stage almost set... It's "MuFuUnSun"… I say what? Oh Stanford, always abbreviating things. This event, Much Fun Under the Sun, is an opportunity for all the prospective frosh to have a chill day on the fields, playing games with current students. I'm happy, loving the sun, and see a bunch (around 15) girls running around with this crazy ball! It looked like a football, but wasn't. They ran as if they were all running backs in football, like I had been in high school, but they continued to pass the ball backwards. D-wut!?! My goodness, they never stopped.

They looked fit, strong, energetic, and fun! I'm hooked. Girls, playing sports, and they're not at all trying to be macho. I watch with adoring eyes. One of the girls sees me ogling at the side, and asks me if I want to join. I say No, its okay. (Those who really know me, I'm kind of shy at first.) No coaxing needed, 5 minutes later, I'm touching a rugby ball for the first time. One word: JOY!

So let’s fast forward to a bzzzzy Freshman year, Track Team and making all the right mistakes, a literal Drama (My major) filled sophomore year, to Junior year. I've got my head on... kind of. At least I know what I'm doing, school isn't too hard, and I'm restless! I see yet another flier about joining the rugby team, I've got a few friends on the team, but I only see them around class. I've been to a game. CONFUSING. I decide to check it out and here is where it all began.

Being a part of the Stanford Women’s Rugby team was an adventure. Every practice intense, always realizing something new. I struggled; I was not used to being a part of a team. What kept me going was the fact that there was always something more to learn. Always something I could be better at, constant growth. I still grow to this day. Two Collegiate National Championships later, I find myself graduating and needing to make decisions about life.
 
Ugh. ;-) I stay in the area and teach. I love learning. The All-Blues, the local team, was the obvious next step for me. I was hesitant. This team was also a National Championship winning team, I didn't know if I was ready for that high level of rugby. I was reassured by many and joined the team. Late. That first season, I saw myself play maybe a total of 40 minutes in the many 80 minute games they played. I was okay, thought of it as my redshirt season.

That season, the All Blues got 2nd. Something that had not happened in a long time. Many of the women were fiercely determined to not let that happen again and my position opened up. I'd be starting! AAAaaahh! That first game was scary, but great. All adrenaline rushing, and I played well.

I thought I was fast, but things seems to go a bit faster than I could think. Never mind my first international game! June 2009, against Canada. I'm playing Wing, a position for the faster players near the touch lines (Sidelines). To simply explain it, I catch the ball and RUN- FAST. Kicks can make me a more versatile and dangerous player because then the defense does not know whether to go for a tackle or a ball chase. Keeps everyone on their toes. It’s a pressure filled position and exciting.

International games are a new kind of Beast. You breathe not just for yourself, but for your country. You seek to reach goals you've been aiming for years. You put everything on the line, every minute. They're tough. They're mental. It’s a battle. You think about practicing twice a day, while still going to work. You think about the many nights you choose to stay and relax instead of partying. You remember the fight in the gym and painful repeat 100m sprints. Each one is a culmination.

There's so much more I could say about the games, but I feel I may begin to ramble. I am a professional rugby player right now. I've reached the highest playing potential for an athlete in my sport. I got a paid trip to England and I'm supported right now to only play rugby. I feel good, but I could feel greater.

The knowledge about rugby and support for Women’s Rugby is just at its duckling size. The more support the better. I'm about the love of the game and the strength of women's sports. To be at these games is a momentous, life changing experience. The more people that know about it, the more momentous it becomes. That’s the thing with rugby. It's my life right now. Everything is an opportunity. Every move is a decision. How quickly can I make a decision? As these 6 years have gone by, the game gets slower in my mind, even if it’s faster in actuality. I see things in a new light. I'm learning. I Love it!

GO Rugby. Go USA!

With rugby love,
Victoria “Vix” Folayan
 
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Inspiring America to fall in love with Rugby
Victoria Folayan | Women's National Team Player | USA Rugby
Jillian Ross

Jillian Ross is a researcher, writer and learner determined to make a difference in the world. Her work has focused on Title IX and gender equity; the intersections of identity (e.g. race, gender, sexual orientation, class, etc.), especially that of Black queer female student-athletes; creating safe schools and spaces for students and teachers; and more recently, educational and teacher leadership with a focus on school leadership for social justice. Although she no longer participates in competitive sports, Ross still considers herself an athlete. Her love of sport began with basketball and track, and has expanded to her current love of hiking in Tilden, working out at the YMCA, and biking around the Bay Area. Ross works and resides in Berkeley, CA with her partner of 7 years.

Ross writes a women-focused blog addressing the just & unjust in the world at jillian4justice.wordpress.com.

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