Keller at home on rugby field

by Michelle Zimmerman

Senior Sarah Keller seems like a quiet, friendly girl on campus, yet when playing rugby for Des Moines, Keller is anything but.

Keller started playing on the Women’s Des Moines Rugby team this semester.

“I wanted to do something active, so my roommates and I talked about random sports,” Keller said.

Keller emailed the Des Moines Rugby club showing interested in their women’s team.

“I told them I had never played, and they asked me to come to a practice,” Keller said.

Keller decided to join the team and is now playing as a back.

“I get tackled a lot,” Keller said. “I got a black eye my first game, so it’s pretty physical.”

Keller understood that rugby is a tackle sport, but she wasn’t expecting the fast paced environment.

“I was terrified for the first game, but it [tackling] happens so fast,” Keller said. “They [coaches] taught us how to go down.”

Audrey Giese of Waukee, Iowa, is the captain of the women’s team.

“She’s [Keller] one of our backs which means she’s a runner,” Giese said. “She brings a lot of energy. She isn’t afraid to get in there. She tries everything without being afraid or worried.”

Head Coach Sean Wieser of Des Moines also discusses Keller’s performance.

“She’s learning a lot in a short period of time,” Wieser said.

Keller’s family and friends are supportive of her decision to play.

“I haven’t actually told my dad,” Keller said. “He’d freak out. My mom wasn’t very surprised. She just wants me to be cautious.”

Senior Megan Berlin, a close friend, is proud of Keller.

“I was really excited when Sarah decided to play rugby,” Berlin said. “She’s always been a great tackler, but I didn’t know if she could get vicious enough to play such a rough sport.”

Berlin respects Keller’s black eyes and bruises.

“I admire her black eyes and bruises,” Berlin said. “I’m always asking her how practice went and what she learned. She always has an awesome story from each day.”

Rugby is played by a few colleges in Iowa such as Iowa State University, University of Northern Iowa and Luther College.

“There are a lot of teams in Minnesota that play rugby,” Wieser said. “It is just hard to get started.”

According to the Liberal Arts Seminar Handbook found on Simpson’s Website, Simpson once had a women’s rugby team in 2006.

“Women’s Rugby is a newly organized club sport at Simpson College. Currently we do not have a large following; however we hope to change that in the upcoming years. The members are a very relaxed group of women who love sports and to have fun together.”

Keeping a women’s rugby team going is sometimes the toughest part of the game.

“It is hard to keep a women’s team together,” Wieser said. “A lot of them have jobs or families and the team starts to fizzle out.”

Keller’s team is currently only playing tournament games that are out of town. This summer Keller will have more games held at the Des Moines Rugby Club in West Des Moines.