The Result of Too Much Beer and the Availability of Pen and Ink

By Kimberly G. Allison

The wind blows unchecked across the flat Missouri landscape, cold and biting. The sky, clear and blue, goes on forever. The pitches appear to be carved from a hay meadow with potholes here and there, placed strategically (by nature) like hazards on a golf course.

Eagerly, we disembark from the warm safety of our automobiles to prepare for the match. Socks pulled to our knees, cleats laced tight on our feet, mouthpiece in our pockets, hair pulled away from our faces, we wait.

Our coach leads us in passing drills, our bodies slowly begin to warm. Our numb fumbling fingers limber a bit. We gain in confidence and the passes hit their target more consistently. The high of anticipation carries us forward. We form a circle around our coach. "Stretch what ya use, use what ya stretch," she advises. Sitting in the lotus position, stretching yet another muscle group, I glance around the circle, studying each woman in turn. I wonder briefly what drew each of them to the sport. Perhaps another day I will uncover their truth's. But today, it doesn't matter.

A smile slowly spreads across my face. I forget my sore muscles and the frustration of being new and unlearned -- momentarily I achieve enlightenment. As my grin widens, a sound of pure joy escapes my throat.

Sitting in our circle, my teammates appear noble and proud, like a primitive tribe of warriors. Each of us is as different from the other as night is from day. Age and ethnicity only begin to characterize our differences. But the thing that binds us is strong. We are drawn together by passion, our unbridled passion for the game. This is the only brand of passion that will appease the gods of rugby.

I am a rookie, a "nana" -- drawn to the game at the ripe old age of twenty-nine by morbid curiosity and the driving need to try something, anything, new. I seek disciplined excitement. I find rugby instead. For once in my life, I take "the road less traveled," with barely two games behind me, I am a rugger.

A rugger in the sense that I am addicted. I will become stronger, better; and with every game my thirst for this bloody sport will grow.

The people with whom I play are unlike any people that I have known. They have embraced me and I, them. I have found my niche. These people are ruggers. I am a rugger. We are a tribe.