A perennial Team USA Eagle, Phaidra Knight is one of the most recognized names in women’s rugby. Today, she chats with former Penn State rugger and current Team USA Eagle, Deven Owsiany.
PK: Deven, first off thanks for joining me today to tell the world a little bit about you.
Deven: Sure, no prob!
PK: Earlier this week, you were honored at one of the most prestigious events in sports, the Women’s Sports Foundation Annual Dinner & Salute to Athletes. Tell us about it.
Deven: This event was amazing! I’ve never been to an event even close to this. We (the athletes) took a trip to the 9/11 Memorial, had an athlete dinner Tuesday night where we got to listen to Billi Jean King, Laila Ali, and many of the other board members tell us about the organization and what it means to them to be involed in the WSF. Wednesday was a huge day with dinner at night. There were tons of celebrities there like Abby Wombach, Venus Williams, Michelle Kwan, Maya Moore and tons more. It was pretty incredible to be recognized at the same event they were at.
PK: Do you believe the Women’s Sports Foundation could help to really boost the status of women’s rugby in the US and beyond?
Deven: Oh my gosh, yes! The WSF has such amazing people in their organization who are compassionate about female athletics and rugby is one of the sports where the girls can play right along with the guys. The rules are exactly the same and although full contact situations may not be even match-ups between men and women, girls can always learn from playing with the guys. The WSF has great people on their team who are able to spread the word about rugby as it is one of the quickest growing sports right now in the USA.
PK: Great response on that. Now turning to you more, tell us, where did you start playing rugby and when?
Deven: I started playing rugby almost 3 years now. I went out to my first rugby practice the spring of my sophomore year at Penn State.
PK: What position do you play in 7’s? 15’s?
Deven: 15’s I play outside center and 7’s I’m a hooker.
PK: When did you first debut with the USA 7’s team?
Deven: My first time with the USA team was when Ric invited me to play with the developmental team at NASC’s 2 years ago. My first international competition with the USA 7s team was in the Las Vegas 7s tourney this past February.
PK: What has been you favorite rugby tour?
Deven: O boy, well at Penn State my favorite tour had to be my first one in Spain and France. We got to see so many cool places and I had only been playing for a few weeks at this point and decided to go to Europe with 50 of my teams which was soooo sweet! For the USA team my favorite was probably Hong Kong. The stadium over in Hong Kong was phenomenal and it was so cute when some of the kids would ask us for our autographs.
PK: Who are your 3 top rugby players?
Deven: I really like Sonny Bill Williams and Brian O’Driscoll. O’Driscoll does such an amazing job at controlling the field and Sonny’s ability to offload is incredible, not to mention they’re both pretty good-looking.
PK: Who has been your biggest influence in sports? Life?
Deven: My biggest influence in sports would have to be my parents and my high school track coach. My parents were always there to hold me to a higher standard and not to settle for anything. I’d come home from basketball practices crying and they wouldn’t baby me and go yell at the coach to get me playing time. They would simply tell me to keep working hard and maybe I would earn my spot on the basketball court. My track coach Brian Sullivan was an amazing coach. I ran the 800m in high school and by the middle of some of our workouts I felt like my body couldn’t give anymore but somehow Coach Sull found some kind of motivating words to push us through the workouts. Amazing coach and I defnintely managed to make it through some of the toughest workouts because of him, thank coach!
PK: So, talk to me about the 2016 Olympics. You planning a trip to Brazil?
Deven: It’s always been a dream of mine to be in the Olympics since I was a little kid. I never thought the day would come when it was realistic for me to say that the Olympics in 2016 is an attainable goal for me. 2016 is a little while away but I’m definitely ready to keep this journey going to make it to Rio.
PK: And what do you think our chances are of medaling?
Deven: I think they are really good to be honest. We are able to compete with The Netherlands and Canadaetc. (teams that are able to train together a lot more often then we do) and we are given bare minimal time to put a team together to compete against them. I think once we get all of our girls in one place to start training together I think the top of the podium will definitely have some red, white, and blue to accompany it.
PK: Deven, thanks so much for sharing today. Good luck and I look forward to following you on this journey.
Deven: It was great talking to you to Phaidra. Hope to talk to ya soon.
New Video Tomorrow…All Blacks great and World Cup Coach John Kirwan and Johnathan Wicklow Barberie talk sports other than…rugby!