A perennial Team USA Eagle, Phaidra Knight is one of the most recognized names in women’s rugby. Today, she chats with Eagle Katie Dowty.
PK: First off Katie, I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to share a bit of yourself with the world.
Katie: No problem! I’m still on the clock, don’t tell my boss.
PK: So, tell me about you. Where did you grow up? Were you an only child? And what sports did you play?
Katie: My family moved around a bit growing up – I was born in California, moved to New Mexico for a while, and moved back to California by middle school. I’ve always been an east-coaster at heart though, so it’s no surprise I ended up in Boston. My sister and brother, Carol and Greg, are both out in Boston now too, which is a blast.They both crack me up and we have a lot of fun together. Greg and I kind of grew up in ice rinks – “rink rats” – him playing hockey and me figure skating. Yes, figure skating. Carol never really got into sports, but we love her anyway. 😉
PK: From where and when did you graduate college? Is that where you started playing rugby?
Katie: I graduated from Harvard in ‘06 and started playing as a Freshman. Yes, us nerds play sports too.
PK: What positions have you played?
Katie: Everywhere in the backline… 15 is my favorite though.
PK: When did you debut with the USA Team (7s and 15s)? How many caps do you have?
Katie: Vegas in 2010 was my first event with the 7s National team. The recent Nations Cup in August of this year was my first cap for the 15s side (where I got 3 caps). So my grand total for 15s is 3, and I’ve been on 3 sevens tours. Hopefully just the beginnings!
PK: Which do you like better?
Katie: That’s like asking a parent to pick their favorite child. But secretly everyone has one, right?! So… sevens. I love the running and juking and always being in the action. Love it. The one-on-one showdowns, the quickness, the pretty passes, the tight knit feeling you get on such a small squad. 15s requires such specific skill sets in every position, while in 7s you need 12 all-around “ballers” if you know what I mean. But I love 15s too, don’t get me wrong! Does this make me a bad parent?!!
PK: Do you like to figure skate more than rugby? (Thanks for that hint, Melanie Denham, USA 15s Flanker)
Katie: Mel is just jealous of my sweet moves. Last time Mel put on skates, the skate guard had to kick her and Emilie Bydwell off the ice for racing and being a danger to everyone around them.
PK: When was your last US tour?
Katie: Nations Cup in Toronto (Aug. 2011). Can’t wait for Dubai this December… the first IRB-sanctioned Women’s International Sevens tournament! Can you imagine the women having an IRB Series like the men??! What a dream come true… and hopefully that’s where we’re headed!
PK: Did you have to visit the trainer for an injury with your hand? Tendonitis? (You best ‘fess up or I will have to call on Mel again!):
Katie: Make sure you call me when it’s Mel’s turn to answer questions. YES – I gave myself tendonitis playing Rock Band before Vegas this year. It was winter in New England… gotta pass the time somehow!!
PK: I guess I have tortured you enough. Who are your biggest influences in rugby?
Katie: Richard Ashfield has been my backs coach for many years, and I think slowly turned me into his mini-me at fullback. As for the pros, I love watching Benji Marshall and Matt Giteau and try my best to play like them! (Super bummed Giteau’s not at RWC right now. Big mistake Australia. Mel’s definitely been the teammate to show me the intensity and drive it takes to keep pushing it on the field. I used to think there was no one as crazy intense as Mel, but I think I met her equal this year when I got to play with Pam Kosanke… ha! Pam’s taught me in a hurry what it means to REALLY want to win. Those two need to meet. And I can’t not mention Heather Hale – definitely my idol at fullback.
PK: Do you think that there is more that can be done to promote and elevate women’s rugby? If so, what?
Katie: I think rugby being added into the Olympics should help jump start things over the next few years, but we have to be successful to get recognized. Start winning on the international stage and earn some attention — that’s the best thing we could do.
PK: What is your highest aspiration in this game?
Katie: Everyone dreams about World Cups and now the Olympics of course – that’s the ultimate. And when I’m done playing I’d like to make a career out of rugby. Do what you love. Hopefully by then colleges will have wised up and added varsity rugby programs throughout the country and coaching might actually be enough to put food on the table!
PK: Thank you so much for entertaining us today. Best of luck to you in reaching that. Keep training hard and learning–you will go beyond!
Katie: Thanks Phaidra! Love what you’re doing with this column!