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  • Writer's pictureUMWRFC PR Chair

Alumni Feature: January

As we welcome in the new year, we also have a new alum to catch up with! This month's featured alumna is Katie Page Sander!

Katie Page Sander

Graduation Year: 1995 (undergrad) 1997 (grad)

Years playing rugby: 1991-2001, 2003-2005, 2007

Position: I played hooker in my first game, then played prop for the rest of my first season. When Coach Dave Perpich found out I could kick, he played me at fullback and I never wanted to go back to the pack! I played most of my career games at flyhalf.

Where are you now? I live in Ann Arbor with my husband, Jeff Sander (UMWRFC coach from 1996-1998) and my three kids (17, 15, 9). I am a social worker and I work in child welfare management and advocacy.

Favorite rugby moments?

1) Eating only happy hour food and the "communal corndog" during the entire Mardi Gras 1992 tournament trip. For some reason Sarah Fancy, Leah Niederstadt and I all rode there in the men's team RV, which was ahem, eye-opening.

2) Awesome "trust building" drill where we blindfolded the ball carrier. Teammates meant to direct the person allowed Kelly Caldwell the run into a pile of our bikes at Mitchell Field. Great drill.

3) Rupturing my spleen. Seriously fun day (besides my apparently life-threatening injury). Crazy love poured upon me by both my teammates and our friendliest opponents in Columbus who came to visit me every day in the hospital and offered to house my parents. Love the rugby community!

4) Playing in the final of the Michigan Cup on Belle Isle with my mom on the wing.

5) Lots of pressed ham. Only to be upstaged by the topless 15 passenger van.

6) Spring Break tour to 1998 Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee in RV rented courtesy of Rebecca Belian's bonus check from Ford. Rebecca driving up the side of a 45 degree hill when we couldn't find the entrance to the pitch at Florida State. Arrived late and got our butts kicked by a team full of national team players in style. Ripping off the sunroof of the RV on Daytona Beach during Bike Week. 5) The Naked Mile before the Internet

7) The banquets and alumni weekends - 80's roller skating party, hero theme, hillbilly theme, beauty pagaent, karaoke, the paper plates, the boxes and "trophies", the rugby ball hat, the Rho Upsilon Gamma Beta Yamma sorority hazing and induction

8) Intramural sports domination. Especially beating the club soccer team in intramural soccer and undefeated broomball domination. And wrestling, swimming, track and field - hilarious!

9) Lifelong friends that have literally and figuratively saved and changed my life for the better in every imaginable way.

Advice for current ruggers? Never fear the knock-on. Go all out even when it looks like you might not make the catch. Standing back and letting it bounce makes you look 1000 times more foolish than a knock-on at full effort. And when you make the catch at a full sprint? Well, that's the stuff of a retired rugby player's dream. Oh, and always take a quick penalty inside the 22.

Have you had any rugby experience(s) after leaving Michigan? All of those years of rugby playing listed above were spent playing for UMWRFC and various incarnations of the Ann Arbor WRFC.

Anything else you would like to share...

Treasure every moment of your body's ability to play rugby. Nothing makes you more grateful for the gift of rugby than not be able to play anymore.

#afeat #alumni #katiepagesander #sander #january

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