Western Washington University's women’s rugby club, the Flames, may not have had the best season in terms of wins, but that didn’t stop them from having a good time.
The Flames went 3-3 in league games this season and placed in the top four at their Flamesfest tournament, the women’s own invitational, and a staple of the Puget Sound rugby community. Senior and team captain Kirsten Schumacher said the Flames took this season as a time to rebuild.
“It wasn’t as successful as we would have hoped,” Schumacher said. “It’s not as great as we’ve been, but we taught a lot of people who have never played rugby how to play the game.”
The season began with 55 team members, 29 of whom were rookies, Schumacher said. Sixteen rookies remained at the end of the season.
Senior Nina Maas, another team captain, has been a member of the Flames since her freshman year. Rugby has caused her to grow a lot in her time at Western, she said.
“Every year, it’s been something a little bit different to me,” Maas said. “It brought me out of my shell as a freshman. This year, I was captain. It taught me how to work hard and play hard.”
Rugby isn’t just a sport to the women, but a great support system, said club president and sophomore Haley Lannom.
“We travel together. They’re the people I live with, and they’re the people I spend all my time with,” Lannom said. “They’re my best friends.”
The women’s season concluded last weekend with their alumni game, where previous Flames are invited back to compete in prom dresses and be coached by the current players, Schumacher said. Most of the alumni wore prom dresses, and some of the current players even donned their prom garb for the game.
“It’s sort of a rugby tradition,” Maas said. “It’s probably something that’s come out of the culture, because it’s such a tough sport.”
The team has already voted for next year’s team captains, Shumacher said. Natalie MacKnight will be captain for the forwards and Isabella Kharrazi for the backs. She’s very confident that the new captains will be capable of leading the Flames, Schumacher said.
Lannom looks forward to next season and said the team has a goal to recruit more consistently in the upcoming year to get more girls involved with the Flames. The girls typically set up a booth to recruit at Red Square Info Fair, but want to be more present on campus winter quarter as well to add interest to the team, Lannom said.