The rugby legend lives on |

The rugby legend lives on

Summit Daily/Mark Fox

It’s been three years since the Summit High rugby team attended nationals.

This year, today’s seniors will get their chance.

Because the national tournament is slated for a weekend in May that doesn’t conflict with spring sports nor does it conflict with graduation, the team has decided now is the time to make a team dream come true.

“Every year we do well, they want to go,” head coach Karl Barth said of his team, which won its fifth-straight state championship in November.

Katy Peoples, the team’s captain, is the sole senior to have attended the national tournament. She went as an alternate in her eighth-grade year.

“It’s a great experience, playing at that level,” she said, adding the training builds camaraderie. “The group of 28 practices and plays in the mornings … It’s a great bonding experience.”

A challenge is exactly what junior rugby star Maddy Hunt-Snyder is looking for.

“Our team has been doing well for the past four or five years,” she said. “It’s not that we don’t get challenged – it’s just that we play the same teams. It’ll be good to see how good we are against the harder teams. … You can’t just get comfortable always knowing you’re going to win – it will be good to have the challenge.”

It’s also going to be a challenge ramping up fitness levels not only to compete in a sport the girls haven’t played since November, but also to compete at the level that will be present in Wisconsin.

“Everyone else is going to be battle-hardened,” Barth said, referring to the fact that other teams are coming off spring seasons and state competitions. “It will take a bit to get there.”

It’s also going to take some hard work fundraising. With the team deciding recently to go to the tournament in Racine, Wisc., – which is south of Milwaukee – it has three months to raise the roughly $25,000 needed for the trip.

The recent PowerBar Big Easy Snowshoe Race contributed about $1,000 to the fund – the money will go toward jerseys for the tournament – but there’s a lot more to go, Barth said.

An Elks breakfast in Silverthorne on March 10 will help, too.

Peoples said recent bake sales at the Breckenridge and Dillon City Markets have been successful, and more are on their way. Meanwhile, the rugby parents’ board is arranging a corporate sponsorship match.

“It’s going to be a fun path, because we’ll keep building as a team,” said junior Lily Weldon, who is currently sidelined from the basketball team with an injury.

The fall season was a challenging one for the girls, who were feeling deflated after a slew of talented seniors departed from the team.

“Barth felt we needed something else to motivate us,” Hunt-Snyder said, explaining that by dropping the seed of attending nationals should the team do well may have been a factor in building the team’s confidence and drive to succeed this year.

Peoples is hoping that among the three tiers of competition at nationals, the Tigers will appear in the uppermost bracket, among the teams vying for the national title. The seeding has yet to be determined.

The spring season will involve long days for some of the girls, who will be training for rugby at the same time they’re practicing with their spring sports teams.

At the same time they’re training, it’s all about being together.

“We don’t necessarily need to be playing rugby together” to be ready to compete, Kellie Cochran said. “We just need to be together.”

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