This month our featured alumnae is Kelly McMahon! She has been playing rugby for many years and we are really excited to hear her advice for current ruggers!
Graduation Year: 1996
Years playing rugby: 15+
1) Where has life taken you since leaving Michigan?
I left Michigan in 1999 to attend Teachers College in NY, NY. I ended up falling in love with the city and stayed there until returning to Ann Arbor to attend graduate school in 2008, which allowed me the chance to return to UM Rugby - this time as an assistant coach.
2) Most memorable rugby moment?
I played rugby for 15+ years and am really fortunate that I have many great memories to choose from. One of my favorite UM moments, though, took place in a tournament in Madison, WI. To be fair, this was actually an Ann Arbor Club team moment, but back in my day, the boundaries between the club and college team were quite blurred. We were playing on Saturday in a very tough, physical match and unfortunately, the ref decided to use me to set an example and called me for a penalty that was not particularly fair. The consequence of which, though, was that I would not be allowed to play the next day (in the championship game) on Sunday. That night, at the party, there was a hullabaloo about finding some way to get me to play. Our opponent agreed that it would be fine, if I played. Alas, the refs refused to budge on the rules. The team made the decision to forfeit the match so that I could play - we stilled played (and if memory serves me, we won), but the fact that the whole team was willing to forfeit so that I could play was one of my most generous things that I have experienced. I think it speaks to the heart of UM rugby, which is we care about each other more than we care about any outcome or score - that the team and playing together - putting ourselves out on the line for things we believed in was the ultimate goal. It was always an honor to put on the jersey and say that I was part of that group.
3) Any rugby experience post graduation?
I played for New York Rugby Club from 1999 to 2009 and Midwest and Northeast Rugby from 2000 to 2009 and USA Eagles from 2003 to 2008.
4) Anything else you'd like to share?
When I was considering retiring from rugby in 2009 (I was fortunate to have the decision and not be forced out by injury!), I felt like I was losing part of myself. I discussed the feeling with one of my teammates (and greatest friends), Juliet. She said, "you don't stop being a rugby player just because you stopped playing. You will always be a rugby player." That was 7 years ago, and as always, she was so right. We remain rugby players at our core. There is an intensity that leads us to the pitch and what we find there, if we truly invest in the team and the people, shapes us. We are changed for the better and that change - the commitment to something bigger than ourselves - binds us to a shared commitment about what we want from our lives. My teammates remain my family and are the best friends anyone could ask for. So, thank you. As always, I remain, 'with you.'
5) Advice for current ruggers?
Practice the basics (can never practice these too much), take care of your body (sleep, eat well, take care of injuries, and most importantly, go to the gym to get fit), don't be afraid to make mistakes in rugby (just play), and refuse to lose on your home field.