Eleven of the University of Guam’s dedicated student athletes traveled with the Guam Women’s International Rugby Team to Chennai, India this past February, where they took second place in the Asian Rugby Developmental Seven Series Tournament. For several of these girls, the tournament was the first time they had traveled with the team.
This was the case for both Amanda Cruz, a freshman biology major, and Dyonni Quitugua, a sophomore on the pre-physical therapy track. The players had mixed feelings about taking home the second place trophy because they had beaten South Korea, who took first place, in the preliminary rounds.
“It was bittersweet because we knew we had the potential to take first place,” Quitugua said.
However, the second place title was an unexpected victory for some of the girls.
The tournament took place over the course of two days, with the preliminary rounds on the first day and the championship games on the second. Cruz explained that some of the girls were extremely nervous because it was the first tour they had played in. Because the team had limited experience playing together, they went in unsure of what the outcome would be.
“The first day we were really just testing the waters,” Cruz said.
Despite this being the first time all of them had played together, the women came out strong and fought their way into the championship game. By the second day of competition, it was a whole different ballgame.
“It was completely different,” Cruz said. “We really saw that we could do this.”
But the road to success takes a lot of commitment and determination, and many of the girls have to find a way to balance being an athlete with school, work, and other extra-curricular activities. This entails early morning workouts and late night study sessions, but the girls have acclimated to the fast-paced lifestyle and even enjoy living on the go.
“It’s not even a problem,” Quitugua said. “We adapt to this lifestyle. I put in work every day. I don’t want to slow down.”
Joyce Borja, a sophomore majoring in social work, has been with the team since 2013 and says the sacrifices she has had to make along the way are well-worth it.
“Just seeing the faces on people,” Borja said. “You know they’re so happy and so proud of us.”
Along with making her supporters proud, Borja explained that there is also a satisfaction in showing other women that they are talented enough to compete. The team is now pushing to promote women’s rugby, which has only recently taken off on Guam. One of their major goals is to guide women towards being athletically healthy.
“We’re opening our arms to everyone,” Cruz said. “We really praise it.”
Cruz and Quitugua said all of the team members are understanding of each other’s busy schedules and are willing to work together to accommodate each other’s needs.
“We’re really here to represent Guam, do what we love, and get everyone involved,” Cruz said.
The other UOG student athletes that played in the tournament are Anisha Nedlic, Jenesis Vita, Aria Perez-theisen, Olivia Flores, Levina Terlaje, Levana Pieper, Brooke Pangelinan, and Mariah Hennegan.