EAGLE ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: VANESHA MCGEE

McGee was first introduced to rugby in 2002. In 2010 she would find herself playing as an Eagle at her first Rugby World Cup - only to follow that up with a second Rugby World Cup appearance in 2014. Basing off of her own experience, McGee credits playing with joy as the most critical factor in growing the sport of rugby in the US.

Learn more about McGee:

Q: When and where did you play rugby?
A: My rugby journey began in 2002 at Temple University. A flyer in my freshman dorm welcomed me to the sport and in a big way, and I never looked back. I played with Keystone Rugby Club in the summers between college seasons. I represented the Mid-Atlantic RFU as a select-side athlete and the USA U-23 team in my first international matches, while still in college. I played with Philadelphia Women RFC before making a more permanent move to NYC and joining New York Rugby Club and the Northeast RFU.

Q: When did you play with the Eagles?
A: After playing for the USA development team (Under 23s), I was selected into the senior USA squad in 2007 under the helm of Kathy Flores. I played 15s for the Eagles at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups and many international matches in between. I was selected as one of eight full-time USA Sevens athletes into the inaugural residency program, representing the United States in the first World Series matches. I concluded my time as a rugby sevens athlete shortly after captaining Team USA in its Bronze medal finish at the 2013 Sevens World Cup.

Q: What is your favorite rugby memory?
A: My favorite rugby memory remains an early collegiate victory. Temple University won the Division II Collegiate National Championship in 2004, for the first time. It was the most triumphant team experience I had to date and remains a powerful and beautiful moment of celebration and true team success. My memory of the team, our newfound push to work hard together, and all the joys that came along for the ride will forever be at the top of my favorites list.

Q: Where are you now?
A: I currently live in Denver, Colorado where I work as a doula and a writer. I support families bringing newborns into the world and love every moment of building community in such a powerful way. Writing has been a steady passion of mine since my younger years. The power of storytelling is immense, and I am fulfilled by engaging in work so deeply rooted.

Q: What do you believe is the most important factor in growing the sport of rugby in the US?
A: Joy is always the most important thing, whether in rugby or life. For sustainable growth, youth should be introduced to rugby on the basis of joy, building a genuine passion for playing which allows for deeper growth as athletes pursue higher levels of the game.
 
Q: What is a piece of advice you would give to aspiring rugby players?
A: Aspiring rugby players need only take one step whether that is a first-time athlete curious about the game or an international caliber player seeking global recognition. One step can mean going to your first practice, playing abroad, another rep at the gym, asking the question you've always had of the mentor whom you've forever admired. Aspiration can live alone as aspiration, or it can breathe light into something more significant. You won't know what it's like until you try and there's so much joy to be found in the trying.