After 15 years, the NMU Northstars womens rugby club is getting a facelift.
“We’ve had a lot of trouble in the past [with] girls being rowdy and giving us a bad name,” said club member and coach Jen Humphries. “We’re kind of turning that around right now.”
The club has suffered in recent years from poor management, personality conflicts and a lack of organization, but those things will change this year.
“Since all of our bad apples are off, or graduated, we’re going to turn the team around,” Humphries said, explaining that one of her biggest hopes is for better organization within the club.
The team is working to change its image in several ways, one of which is getting more involved with the campus community.
Humphries said the team hopes to do more volunteer work this year, including an event with Women For Women in October.
The team’s new-found sense of identity and motivation could stem from an influx of new athletes.
“We’ve got a lot of new girls on the team, and they’re really excited about rugby,” said Humphries. She added that the new and improved squad shows up regularly for their three-times-weekly practices.
One of the new girls to the squad is freshman Megan Meddaugh, who joined the team as a way to keep in shape and meet new people.
Although Meddaugh had played organized sports before, she did not have any experience with rugby.
“I found out it’s this whole different world of sports,” she said. “It’s not really football and it’s not really soccer.”
Although she joined without any experience, Meddaugh immediately felt welcomed by the team.
“Right away you could tell that this group was really open,” she said. “They were totally into having new people on the team. [They] were willing to teach everyone everything they knew.”
Humphries said the new girls are learning quickly, and gained a lot of experience from the team’s first game last weekend.
“They still have a lot to learn, but they’re learning pretty good,” she said.
The team is also getting new jerseys and trying to update other equipment. The upgrades have been made possible by local sponsors like The Wooden Nickel and The Doghouse.
The squad also hopes to hold a 15th anniversary celebration at some point this season.
The team will have its first home game on Sunday, Sept. 13, against Ferris State University, and will return home for a three-game stretch starting Oct. 3.
Although they used to compete in the Wisconsin Rugby Union, they had to withdraw due to visiting teams failing to show up at games in Marquette.
They are now members of the Michigan Rugby Union, along with teams like Michigan State University, Bowling Green State University and Saginaw Valley State University.
Humphries is very excited about turning the team around this season.
“To sum it up, it’s like a rebuilding year,” she said. “There’s a lot of potential on the team.”