Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Perrysburg Ladies Bringing Positivity to Northwest Ohio Rugby Scene

Spring is a time of growth, and renewal wherever as the green grass begins to overtake the snow. In the northwestern corner of the state, the Perrysburg High School girls’ team is looking to emerge this spring a force to be reckoned with in the division and in the lives of the players on the roster.

Jamie Sheehan currently plays rugby at Bowling Green State University for its women’s team. After playing four years at BGSU, she was presented with the opportunity to grow the women’s game in the area; and, because of all the benefits the sport has to offer, she chose to take it.

When I heard about the opportunity to spread the sport that has deeply impacted my life, how could I not jump at the opportunity,” Sheehan said.

Jamie Sheehan with a few of her BGSU teammates.
For the Perrysburg girls, starting the team was more about wins and losses. The team has been set up so the players get the most enjoyment and support out of the experience possible. According the Sheehan, there are lots of laughs at every training session, and she wants to ingrain that enjoyment as much as each player’s role on the field.

Ask my PHS girls’ team,” she said. “They’ll tell you what I say to them every practice that they giggle at, ‘Rugby is not just a sport. It’s a lifestyle.’ This team is a family. The girls on the team will be pushed to physical and mental limits on the field, and the only people that know that feeling are the girls on the field.

Positivity seems to be e pertinent part of the Perrysburg plan. Though the team is still in its infancy, Sheehan is always ready to welcome more positive players to the team’s ranks. From that positive effort, she hopes to extract the kind of outstanding effort that allows players to push past personal limitations and persevere when faced with adversity.

“The players I hope to attract are girls who have a positive attitude, and are ready to put in some hard work,” she said. “Any and all are more than welcome to join. All I ask from all my players is that they give every practice, and game 110 per cent. My ideal player would be someone who doesn’t give up. Even when in a game and the score is not in our favor, I want a player that views the score always as 0-0.”

Overall, the focus for the Perrysburg girls is on the players. From getting hands-on help from some of the BGSU women’s players to a player-centered coach, the well-being of the young women is front-and-center for the club. For the foreseeable future, learning lessons and applying them correctly while gelling as a team is the in-game focus for the women. The idea is that the results will take care of themselves going forward. Whether it’s in practice or during matches, pushing for improvement is the name of the game at Perrysburg.

“Never give up. That’s all I ask from my girls,” Sheehan said. “Even during conditioning, when they are doing a 20-minute run, I say if they can’t run the full 20 minutes to just don’t stop moving. I’d rather see them go into a fast walk or slow jog than just stopping and quitting.”

The team has had some success in its infancy, partially due to the ladies’ eagerness to learn the sport and grow as a team. This focus and inquisitive nature has translated into a group that is hungry for knowledge about a sport that is new to them. There are still areas that are troublesome for Sheehan’s players, but with time those gaps will get filled.

The Perrysburg girls’ team has been a labor of love. From students pestering the coaches of the boys’ team to college players like Kayla Tesmer, Veronica Ridel and Kristina Irwin giving of their time and talents, it has been a grassroots operation rooted in the pure enjoyment of the sport and the desire to spread its benefits to as many people as possible. The plan is for this love to last and, more importantly, spread.

“I see the club benefiting the area by building strong – in character, mentally and physically – girls and women,” Sheehan said. “Giving colleges who have rugby teams girls to add to their programs; to help build stronger teams and to continue the sport and clubs for the future all around the nation. [I want] to have a successful rugby program built, that alumni can come back to each year and see how far it has come and how far it will go in the future.”

Currently, the Perrysburg girls practice at the city’s Orleans Park in preparation for a round robin of matches before the start of the season. The team is welcoming new players in a continuous basis. Any high school lady in the area can try her hand at the sport. Players do not have to be Perrysburg students. Those interested in joining up should follow the team on Twitter or contact Sheehan directly.

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