Women's rugby club collects 1,689 pounds of food donations for soup kitchen

More than 1,600 pounds of canned food was delivered to the Isabella County Soup Kitchen by Central Michigan University’s women’s rugby club Tuesday.

The Rebels Rugby Club collected 1,689 pounds of canned food items during its four-team “Ruck the Mountain 10s” rugby tournament Saturday in Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

The donation is nearly triple the 560-pound donation from a year ago — the inaugural “Ruck the Mountain 10s.”

Senior Club President Kaitlyn Willauer said the donation was a pleasant surprise for the people at the Isabella Community Soup Kitchen.

“We let them know we were coming," Willauer said. "But I think the amount of goods we brought was surprising to them.”

A focus on getting more local businesses to sponsor the tournament is one reason for the larger donation, Willauer said.

This year’s tournament had around 30 sponsors, including Rubbles Bar,  local attorney Todd Levitt and Central Michigan Orthopedics PLLC.

“It was amazing to play the sport (I) love and be such a helping part of the community,” Willauer said. “It’s an amazing feeling — especially seeing how hard everyone on the team worked to put this event together and be so successful.”

The Rebels were joined in the tournament by teams from Michigan State University, Bowling Green State University and Grand Traverse.

Bowling Green finished first, followed by MSU, Grand Traverse and CMU.

Despite two-thirds of the members being first-year players, Willauer said she was fairly impressed with the team’s performance Saturday and during the entire season.

“The majority of the girls who come and play don’t have rugby experience from high school, because it isn’t a common high school sport for young girls,” she said. “For (the new members) to come play with us, learn the sport so quickly and apply what they’ve learned is something I’m fairly impressed with.”

The club, which began in the mid 90s, is the largest it’s ever been with 30 members.

“I see an amazing future ahead of (this team),” she said. “They’re starting very young, so it’s going to be a very experienced team in a couple of years. It’s continuing to grow and get even better.”

Ruck the Mountain 10s was the Rebels’ final event of the spring season. The club will have an open callout in the fall for anyone interested in joining next season.

Willauer encourages “everybody of all skill levels, body types and levels of athleticism,” to join because “everyone can benefit.”

“There’s a long list of things rugby can teach,” she said. “There’s a reason there aren’t names on the back of our jerseys. When you get tackled and you’re lying there on ground, you’re relying on your teammates to step over (your body) and protect you. There’s no other words for it. It brings you really close, very close together.”


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