Saturday, March 18, 2017

Ohio Elite's Youngest Looks Forward to the Challenge of Competition

The U24 Ohio Elite team is providing opportunities to talented, dedicated young, female rugby players from around the state. Marina Mullins is one of those players. Though she is short on experience and the youngest player on the roster, the Brunswick Valkyrie is excited about the opportunity to compete at a high level and learn all the lessons that come with it.

Mullins was encouraged to try out for the team by her high school coach, Dan Prater, who puts a premium on player gaining as much experience and field time as possible. With Prater’s blessing, Mullins was joined by another senior and tried out for the squad. With only a year of experience under her belt, the senior, who specializes at playing wing and outside center, made it on the roster.

The journey to the to the Ohio Elite side was more than a year of playing with Brunswick and a six-hour road trip. The tough tryout left its mark on Mullins in the form of two bloody knees, and the competing for spots against the other girls proved to be a tall task.

“It was crazy,” Mullins said. “At the tryout I was watching the other girls play and I was blown away by their skills. The girls were all way bigger, stronger and faster than me. It was really intimidating.  When I got asked to come onto the team I was in shock, and super excited. I’m beyond honored to get to play alongside them.”

Though the roster has been finalized and the competitions have been paid for, there is still a long road ahead of Mullins and her teammates. The team’s first competition will be at Ruggerfest, in the nation’s capital. Before that happens’ Mullins knows she has a lot of work to do to be as successful as possible.

“I want to learn new skills . . . to improve both my offensive and defensive tactics,” she said. “I think being coached at such a high level and playing with girls years older than me is really forcing me to step up to the plate and make sure I improve all aspects of my game.”

The lifespan of this year’s season isn’t terribly long for the Ohio Elite team, but the long-running implications of playing on the team aren’t lost on Mullins. She knows that the experience that she gains will be applicable through her high school career and beyond.

“The experience right now is really going to help me later. This was an amazing opportunity I’ve been given and I can’t wait to apply what I learn to the rest of my high school career and any rugby I’ll play after that,” Mullins said. “I’m really excited to be able to learn at a higher level, so I know what to expect as I get older and hopefully am able to play on more high-level teams.”

There’s a quote from Bo Bennett that talks about replacing youth with things like wisdom, understanding and self-actualization. By taking full advantage of the opportunity to play with the Ohio Elite, Mullins has taken this to heart in a big way. It is not lost on her the opportunities that this team has given her – or the ones it could provide to other young women in the sport.

“It allows you to be able to play competitively at a high level,” she said. “You get to travel and play other teams you might not be able to face with just your home club. By facing new teams, you’re bound to learn new things about the game. It also allows us young women to meet new players and new teammates that we wouldn’t be able to meet outside of teams like this; and it allows all of us to be able to improve our game together.”

Check back for other player profiles and results of the team's time at Ruggerfest and other competitions.

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