With a new coach and a crop of rookies outnumbering the veterans, the Plattsburgh State women’s rugby club fell to SUNY Potsdam 7-37 Sept. 16 in their season opener.
Chris Rosenquest assumed the head coaching position this season. Beginning his rugby career for the Plattsburgh men’s side in 1998, he continued playing in California and has coached at the high school level before returning to the North Country to lead the women.
“You can definitely tell his love of the sport through the way he coaches,” captain Jordan Feliciano said. “He really cares about the sport and the team, and he’s helping to turn the club sport around.”
Backs captain and flyhalf Katie Botterbusch echoed her teammate’s compliments of the first-year coach. The two captains like Rosenquest’s enthusiasm and the direction he plans to take the team, citing the coach’s guidance of the squad as more of a varsity sport compared to its actual club sport status setting “a higher bar,” according to Feliciano.
“He has a very clear goal for what he wants our sport team to look like now and in the future,” Botterbusch said. “With our old coach, there was a disconnect and differences of opinions. I think that divided us.”
About ten new women joined the team this semester, and all of them got action in Potsdam. Although Feliciano commended the play of the rookies, she admits there’s a lot of work remaining for the team to get into the win column. They all came in without any previous experience playing rugby, and, with the many complexities of a sport without a huge following in the states, the week one thrashing by the Bears was an important learning experience for them.
“They learned some things they need to improve upon and they learned some things they’re good at,” Feliciano said.
Communication on the field and tackling is a major point of emphasis in practice for the women this week, Feliciano and Botterbusch said, which they hope will improve as the rookies gain experience and the team meshes with Rosenquest.
Off the field, the women like the communication and friendships that have developed among the players. When one teammate sprained their ankle, members of the team brought candy to her room to cheer her up.
The Cardinals welcome Clarkson University Saturday on the pitch behind Sibley Hall.
After the Golden Knights, the team alternates home and away matches against St. Lawrence University and Paul Smith’s College before they suit up for playoff contention in late October.
Email Ken Bates at firstname.lastname@example.org