Fridays With Phaidra Knight: Rising Rugby Star Kimber Rozier Talks With Eagle Legend

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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 rising Rugby Star, Kimber Rozier.

PK: Kimber, I appreciate your time today.
Kimber: No problem. Thank YOU for taking your time and promoting us as players.

PK:  When did you start playing & where do you currently play rugby?
Kimber: Well, I guess technically I currently play nowhere. I just graduated from UNC Chapel Hill where I had been playing for the past 4.5 years (Yep – Victory Lap). And that’s also when I started playing… in 2007 as a college freshman.

PK: What position(s) do you play and which is your favorite?
Kimber: For some unknown reason, people seem to think I’m a fly half – even though off the field I’m the worst at making decisions. Personally, I’d say I’m definitely a second row (could you imagine how badly that scrum would fail?) But in all seriousness, I play #10 and I’ve played everywhere in the back line. I even played flanker once. That was awesome. But fly half is my favorite. I love kicking, reading the field, play making, and I actually really like being under pressure to think a million miles a minute.

PK: I concur. Flanker is awesome. Any rugby injuries to speak of?
Kimber: Shoulders. I feel like I’ve separated more shoulders than I have. I broke my leg last year in a ruck, and one time I tore my PCL just by falling down during a game. Hard to say how that’s possible.

PK: What attracted you to rugby?
Kimber: What didn’t attract me to rugby is a better question. I think the kicking, mostly. I needed something to replace soccer. And then the hitting. I love contact way more than someone as small as me should. What really kept me though, was the bond you form on and off the field with your teammates and the non-stop intensity. Rugby’s a game where you have to be working your hardest the entire time you’re on the field, or else you quite literally might get broken in half, and you expect your teammates to do the same for you. I had never played anything like it.

PK: Did you play other sports growing up?
Kimber: Absolutely. I played about every sport I could play, but the two I really played competitively were basketball and soccer. Mostly soccer.

PK: Where did you grow up? Do you have siblings? Grow up with pets?
Kimber: I grew up in Raleigh, NC just right around the corner from where I live now. I have two amazing sisters, Kelsey and Crystal, which makes me the middle child of three girls. Watch out when we all get together, seriously. I grew up with a dog and I really want to get one of my own, but I can barely keep my pet plant, Earl, alive (gotta start somewhere).

PK: That’s funny. My dad’s name is Earl. Moving right along… When did you debut with Team USA? Can you describe how it felt to get that first invite? And what emotions did you experience just before your first test?
Kimber: Gah. Well my first big girl debut was actually in Dubai this past December. It was awesome, duh. It felt like…I really want to say a dream come true here but that sounds like something from a Disney movie.
Which I love, so that’s completely fine. But literally since I was a child, the only career plan I had was to be an international athlete, so phew. Good thing they pay us the big bucks. The main thing I remember before my first game was standing in the tunnel behind my teammate Bex… who was also about to have her first senior national team debut… and counting down until our dreams were realized. It was all really overwhelming, in a good way.

PK: What does a day in the life of Kimber Rozier look like?
Kimber: Ha. Wow. Well, training is quite literally my life. I majored in Exercise Science in college, have two jobs in a gym as a personal trainer and a student manager, and I work out typically twice daily and then practices. During school I was incredibly busy. I’d wake up around 6 am, cook 6 eggs and oatmeal (which I eat every morning) and the food for the rest of my day, which is a LOT. I eat about 6-7 meals a day. After that I’d go do some sort of running work out, eat again (usually oatmeal. Love that stuff), class or something boring, eat again (usually chicken), do work or something else boring, then lift and eat again (more chicken…ha), probably eat once more then go to practice. And then eat once or twice more before bed. I like eating.

PK: Will you be relocating to the Chula Vista USOC next week?
Kimber: Oh yeah. I’m driving all the way from NC to California, so as long as my car doesn’t break down somewhere in the middle… That’s where I’ll be. I’m so excited. Anyone who has been to the OTC out in Chula knows how amazing it is. Plus its warm all the time, and I’ll be living with 7 of my teammates in one house. Soooo you know that will be interesting. I’ll be able to train like I want to every day without the boring stuff in between. I couldn’t be luckier, really.

PK: Well, you’ve earned it so enjoy it! Now, Vegas 7s is just around the corner. How do you think Team USA will fare in this event? Who do you anticipate will be the toughest opponent?
Kimber: Toughest? This might sound cliché, but I really think we have to beat ourselves. Winning Vegas or any tournament comes down to how much we challenge ourselves in training. I honestly feel like the talent and work ethic of my teammates is unmatched anywhere in the world, and Ric is a genius (don’t tell him I said that). But if I had to pick a team to beat, I say Canada. They’ve had an annoyingly good year. I think we’re going in the right direction with full-time training, however. But I’d be lying if I said the motivation to beat Canada hasn’t gotten me through a few death flops.

PK: What is your ultimate goal in this sport?
Kimber: I want us to be hands down, without a doubt the best in the world. I don’t want there to be any hesitation when anyone asks which team is on top. I want everyone to know we’re the team to beat consistently and for people to expect us to take gold in Rio. I want other teams to try and challenge us for it, just so we can prove time and time again that we deserve to be called the best. That’s my goal for us. My goal for myself is to live every day with that in mind deliberately to make sure that it happens.

PK: How can USA Rugby contribute to make this possible?
Kimber: Continue to do an excellent job supporting us and making our dreams come true, for one. I think residencies will make a big difference, but it would be awesome if there were a professional league. I know first hand how difficult it is to try to balance training like you need to and working/going to school to be able to survive. I’ve played both with and against some fantastic athletes that are well deserving of a professional league to showcase and hone their talent outside of the international stage. I think that’s in our future at some point, but for now getting all the help and support we can get from USA Rugby (and fans) will influence how far we can go. And of course having the opportunity to show our dedication and appreciation thanks to great press like this is awesome.

PK: Kimber, thanks so much for speaking with me today. Good luck in Vegas and beyond.
Kimber: That sounds like Buzz Lightyear.
PK: Well he and I are pretty close, you know!