PHOENIX, Arizona – Practices in the hot, sticky North Carolina summer last six hours a day on the turf field, making conditions grueling. Sweat flows, feet hurt, and the heat will only intensify as athletes like Specialist (SPC) Samantha Coleman prepare for their upcoming tournament.
SPC Coleman bounced around schools playing basketball and learning mixed martial arts, and she began playing rugby about a year ago. While playing with her team in Tucson, she learned about the All-Army Women’s Rugby Team.
“I’ve only been playing less than a year,” she says. “You never know unless you try.”
With encouragement from her teammates, she decided to go through the competitive application process. She made the team that consisted of Officers and Non-commissioned Officers. She felt as if she wasn’t good enough to play alongside those leaders.
At first, she thought, “I don’t deserve to be here. I’m so outclassed. But, it’s like, you know what? The worst they can do is say no.”
First Lieutenant (1LT) Kasey McCravey, captain of the All-Army Women’s Rugby Team and member of the U.S. Women’s National Rugby Team, attributes SPC Coleman’s success to her desire to learn.
“She has an ability to take information and apply it immediately,” says 1LT McCravey. “She would do the extras, and she was a positive light to the team.”
“You may feel like you’re just a regular Specialist, or whatever you may be,” says SPC Coleman. “But the work you do matters.”
Making the team was just the beginning. She and the team had to endure a summertime training camp in North Carolina.
“That training camp is honestly the highlight of my life,” she says. “Everyone’s on the same page and trying to get better and grow.”
“She came in having defensive strength, and she was weaker on her passing,” 1LT McCravey recalls. “She stayed longer with the coaches and other players and improved her passing skills.”
The team’s hard work was in preparation for the Armed Forces Sports First Women’s Rugby Championship in Wilmington, N.C. in July.
Army dominated, going undefeated in the tournament. The victory garnered an invitation to the Cape Fear Tournament, where Army faced tougher competition and placed third.
“The whole concept about rugby is community and family, more so than any other sport I’ve been a part in,” says SPC Coleman.
Her rugby team is family, just like being in the Arizona Army National Guard. “If you’re having a moment of weakness, or whatever, you’re just like, we’re in this together; embrace the suck.”
“The Army has let me pursue a lot of my passions,” she says. “That’s a real family. They would do anything for you, because you would do anything for them.”
The self-doubt SPC Coleman felt when she first joined the team has given way to a better sense of worth.
“Don’t count yourself out before you even try – don’t let other people make you small.”
When you join the Army National Guard, you gain family, experience, and skills for life. With benefits like tuition assistance and the flexibility to serve part-time in your home State, you can achieve your goals while making a difference in your community and country. To explore available opportunities, explore the job board where you’ll find careers in fields like aviation, engineering, and technology. To learn more, contact a recruiter today!
From an original article by SPC Jacob Dunlap and SPC John Randall, 123rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, which appeared in the news section of NationalGuard.mil in October 2019.