A perennial Team USA Eagle, Phaidra Knight is one of the most recognized names in women’s rugby. Her home club is the New York Rugby Club. Today, she chats with NYRC teammate & Team USA star, Beth Black.
PK: Beth Black, you are awesome. Thanks for taking time to speak with me today.
Beth: Anything for you Phaidra – you’re the best!
PK: First off, good job in Vegas last week at the International 7s Tournament. What were your impressions of Team USA’s performance? Did you ladies achieve what you set out to do?
Beth: We performed very well but to be honest, every time we step foot onto the pitch we set out to win so although we came close to that goal, we came a little short. On the other hand, another big objective for this tour was to really have fun while we played because we tend to play our best when we relax. I think I can speak for most of the ladies on this tour and say that we really embraced the idea of playing with smiles on our faces and achieved that goal overall.
PK: How was it playing in the stadium before one of the largest crowds to ever convene for a rugby event in the US?
Beth: Wow, it was unbelievable. Hearing U – S – A chanted over and over again made me feel like a rock star! Too cool.
PK: You are a rock star. Congratulations to you, all of your teammates, and Rick and Jo for an impressive performance.
Beth: Thank you so much and really, we could not have done it without all of the support and encouragement of everyone who has made rugby a priority in their lives at some point or another. That’s how we continue to have the resources to get better and better.
PK: Awesome. Now let’s talk about you. That’s why we are here. Where did you grow up?
Beth: I grew up in Warrenton, Virginia – a small town about an hour southwest of DC.
PK: And what sports did you play as a youngster?
Beth: Let’s see. I played soccer for as long as I can remember, basketball when hit junior high, and volleyball in high school. I played all 3 sports throughout high school but really always wished I could play football with the boys….
PK: Where did you attend college? Was that when you first discovered rugby?
Beth: I went to James Madison University (GO DUKES!) for my undergrad degree and George Washington University to get my masters. I discovered rugby at the campus’ club fair. I had no idea what it was but went to an interest meeting to see what it was all about. When I heard tackling was involved and no experience was necessary, I knew it was for me.
PK: So, if I recall correctly, Jen Starkey went there too? So this is where you two made trouble for 4 years huh?
Beth: Yea, we went to JMU together and we actually only got to wreak havoc on the place for a few years together. The last year we played together JMU actually showed up to sweet 16’s for the first time ever that I can remember. We came in as the 16th seed and ended up upsetting the #1 – it was pretty sweet.
PK: When did you start playing with Team USA?
Beth: The first time I played for the US was during residency camp in Little Rock leading up to the 2009 World Cup.
PK: Where was your first tour with the US? What has been your favorite and why?
Beth: My first tour was to the San Diego 7’s, before they moved the event to Vegas. I played with the developmental team and got to play my first international matches ever there against Canada, England, Japan, and China. My favorite tour would have to be my first. It was so bittersweet getting called in as a reserve to play, playing my butt off during residency, getting to rep my country for the 1st time as a rugger, then having a tour ending injury my last game out there. It was an insane ride and I learned a lot from it.
PK: What have been your biggest challenges in playing rugby at the club, All Star, and international levels? Have the upsides outweighed the downsides?
Beth: The upsides always outweigh the downsides! My biggest challenge has always been playing the juggling game with ‘real’ life and ‘rugby’ life. I try not to overwhelm myself with any one aspect of what make me who I am, because when I get out of balance I start to feel funky and that then seeps into work, friends, family, rugby, etc. It always takes a lot of work to make sure life is balanced just right.
PK: Do you aspire to play in the 2013 World Cup? 2016 Olympics?
Beth: Yes, I aspire to be a part of both of these amazing events in whatever capacity I can serve this team best.
PK: What will it take to bring home top prize in both? Do you believe that Team USA can achieve this?
Beth: I believe 100% that Team USA can achieve anything they set out to do. Honestly, every time I run out onto the pitch I believe that we will come out with a victory at the end of the game. It obviously doesn’t always come out that way and I am shocked every time it doesn’t! As much hard work as we put in at home, off season, at the training centers, and on the pitch it is just a matter of time before we become the team to beat – Hands down, no doubt.
PK: Beth, again, you are awesome! Thanks for taking the time to share with me today. Good luck with all that you are doing and I look forward to seeing you again soon.
Beth: Anything for you, and thanks for all you do for Women’s Rugby! You’re awesome Phaidra.