Pair of Women’s collegiate clubs celebrate 40th Anniversary and lasting values

Many athletes would agree that a rugby club is a form of family. Which means, if there is a call for celebration - everyone gathers, including the alumni. This is precisely what Bowling Green State University Rugby Club and Dartmouth Women's Rugby Club experienced as they celebrated their respective club's 40th year anniversary.

"It never dawned on me that the club I was a part of was so new," Said Dinee Brown a Bowling Green alum who started playing only three years after the club began. 

"Nearly all of my favorite people in the world, I met through rugby.  My best friends today are women I met while playing rugby with my club (37 years ago)" said Brown recalling a significant take away from her time with Bowling Green. 

Barb Smiljanich echoed Brown's notion of lasting friendship with a subtle memory, "Our team always yelled "with you" to our teammates when advancing the ball so that person knew there was always support there when they needed it.  And whether we knew it or not those two words impacted us over the past 40 years."

"I may not have seen some of my teammates for years, but we all agreed that if any one of us picked up that phone and said "I need you" they wouldn't hesitate to get to you," Smiljanich added.

It is clear that one of the major takeaways for former players is the friendships that never dissolve. Brown and Smiljanich also shared a handful of other benefits they believed were gained through playing with their club. Such as developing a worldly view, personal confidence, mental toughness, tolerance, and coping skills.

However, it is not just about what the alumni took from the experience but also how they are finding ways to give back.  Katie Dowty, the Head Coach with Dartmouth Women's Rugby Club, shared what she found most memorable about their club's 40th-anniversary celebration.

"The thing that struck me the most about celebrating our club's 40th was how the women who started the club still care so much about the current team," said Dowty.

"When our athletes retire from the club landscape, they stay connected to the team and find ways to give back."

"The current team is striving to achieve a lot of things on the field, but all of the resources they have - the beautiful clubhouse, the amazing grass fields, the publicity, attention, and ability to recruit - is because the alumni kept caring even after they graduated."   

Dowty relayed that the alumni share a desire for the next generation to receive the same special experience that they gained while playing.

"Our alums know that their experience doesn't stop when they graduate - that they can continue to build this team and this community when they are done."

Both Bowling Green State University Rugby Club and Dartmouth Women's Rugby Club expressed high aspirations to see the club continue to thrive.

"It is extraordinary to think about how far the club has come in these 40 years, but we also know there is still so much untapped potential in this game and how much further we can take it." Concluded Dowty.