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A Goodbye to our Graduating Seniors

This season's seniors (from left to right): Whitney Smith, Francine Penikis, Heather Kunkle, Kaitie Benedek, Ari Castillo, Monica Chen, Sienna Fasel, Sam Taylordean, Meg Melton, Emily Sluiter, Fatou Ndaw

These ladies have given a lot to this team during their time at U of M and here's some of the things that they have to say about it:


favorite memory: "knocking this girl from davenport on her butt with the best stiff arm of my life (yet). it's on youtube. at one point there was a gif of it"

favorite quote: "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by the dirt and sweat and blood. Who strives valiantly, and spends himself in a worthy cause. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither defeat or victory" – Theodore Roosevelt

advice: ruck hard, run fast (in life and rugby)


favorite ball: "that one England one Vicky has because it’s never deflated <3"

favorite poem: "My favorite poem is the poetry of rugby songs, mainly the beautiful Dough — A Thing I Buy Beer With.

But also in all seriousness it is 'If' by Rudyard Kipling, if you take out the last part about being a man, because I feel like rugby helps me be a better person, as is advised by good ol’ Rud Kip in that poem."

advice: "My favorite advice is “if you mess up, do it at 100%” because I really can’t think of another place in life that applies. Driving? Definitely not. School? Taxes? Sadly, no. But it’s great for rugby."


favorite memory: "My favorite memory of Michigan would have to be my 21st birthday. My teammate, Emily Sluiter made me a cake and invited the team to her house to sing happy birthday to me. I wasn't expecting so many people to show up! This was a time when I felt very loved by my team and I can only hope that I reciprocate this feeling. Also, the cake and ice cream were delicious."

why rugby?: "I have played other sports in the past--soccer and basketball--and have always been an aggressive player, despite my size. When I was introduced to rugby I was hesitant at first because I had no idea how to tackle or what it was like to be tackled, but I absolutely love the full contact of sport. During rugby season my confidence completely changes and I feel empowered in everything I do. I also love seeing people's faces when I tell them I play rugby and continue to explain that I do not wear pads or a helmet, just a mouth guard. The rugby atmosphere is also very different than other sports teams I've played on. We truly are family and strive to make each other better."


favorite quote: "Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you." - Walt Whitman

biggest inspiration: "I don't have an individual biggest inspiration, but my overlapping circles of friends from all areas and time periods of my life consistently remind me that all it takes is a fleeting moment to leave a lasting impression on someone. People have inspired me in little ways through simple, daily life."

hidden talent: "If you do something embarrassing and hope no one saw it, I somehow always manage to be the fortunate witness. You've been warned :) I can also form my tongue into a three-leaf clover?"


why rugby?: "My little brother who lives in Sydney played rugby and I thought that if he could do it so could I! So glad I decided to play. I stayed because I met the most amazing people who are hard working and aren't afraid of a challenge."

favorite quote: "Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope." - Maya Angelou

hidden talent: "I am very good at knitting and crocheting."


5 year plan: "As a senior, that's a terrifying question. I hope to have seen more of the world and have a job that allows me to help both people and the environment. And have many fur babies."

favorite quote: "If not us, who? If not now, when?"

why rugby?: "Rugby serves as a stress release, a motivator, a support system, and a family away from home. I don't know where I would be if I had never found rugby!"

biggest inspiration: "I have to be cheesy and say that my mom is my biggest inspiration. Everything she does in life she does wholeheartedly and optimistically. I strive to live life with that mindset."


if you were an ice cream flavor?: "If I turned into ice cream right now. I am pretty sure I would be chocolate flavored by default."

favorite quote: "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul."

5 year plan: "CIA or FBI special Agent... (Watch out world, Whitney is going to be on your tail!)"

why rugby?: "It is an aggressive sport and it's fun. I have been playing for the past two years."


what have you gained from rugby?: "I've loved my time with the women's rugby team! More than anything its provided me with a group of friends that I can count on for anything, no matter how many times I miss a tackle (or a practice!). I love being a part of a group of strong, tough, supportive, inspirational women. I will always remember my time on this team fondly, and I value the lessons I've learned and relationships I've created."

advice: "Some advice for new players: don't be shy! Confidence is key on and off the field. You are great and strong and powerful--show it!"

All of you will be dearly missed and we wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors. Please come back and visit!

#2017 #seniors

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