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 Team USA star, Daniela Mogro.
PK: D, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me today! I am so glad we could finally connect.
Daniela: No problem, PK.
PK: So, I understand that you recently played rugby? When and where?
Daniela: I did indeed. You’d think that would be an easy answer 😉 but it can be a lengthy one. Most recently – New York, North East Territory & USA 7’s ?
PK: Any chance of foregoing retirement and playing competitively again?
Daniela: Oooooo… good question, especially since I loved both playing & training for rugby & since not playing, I am still committed to be in good shape… I think that helps keep the door slightly open 😉 The concussion concern does ultimately keep me grounded & I do have to say I have enjoyed having a more balanced life.
PK: When did you first start playing rugby and where? You are rumored to have started at second row. Fact or fiction?
Daniela: Awwww yes…when I walked on the pitch, I’m sure the coaches were ecstatic to have found a new lock 😉 Well I picked it up in college. I went to Arizona State – I have always been a huge sports fan – on & off the field. I ran there but came from playing & loving everything- soccer, basketball, track, X-country. Running was definitely a love/hate thing for me, plus it wasn’t the healthiest for me. Also I wanted to focus on school, so I stopped. But I couldn’t be kept from competing long – I saw some flyers at school & I was approached about Rugby – I thought it was like football – and again being a big sports fan I was intrigued. I could compete & play, travel, learn a new sport but also school could come first – it was a win win – so I gave it a try 😉 and I’m so so glad I did!
PK: Prior to playing rugby, what was your dominant sport?
Daniela: Multi –Varsity Sport – Soccer, Basketball, Track, etc. Plus love to play anything for fun – Tennis, Football, etc.
PK: Where did you start playing?
Daniela: Started at Arizona State University – Tempe, AZ – Played for Pacific & then moved to So. Cal when that division got established. I was lucky to have good/strong college coaches as well!
PK: When did you begin your career as an international 7’s rugby player?
Daniela: I was 19/20 when I made my first US Camp- omg was that crazy amazing! And then even more amazing, I was honored to make my first the team next year.
PK: What was your best tour?
Daniela: They were all amazing – NZ, HK, Dubai, Barbados, US, etc.. Of course, some had better outcomes than others. but I cherished every single one.
PK: Anything ever happen on tour that you want to share with the world?
Daniela: Oh, absolutely – but that’s the beauty of tour; what goes on tour stays on tour 😉 No really there are so many amazing things – some of the amazing moments are signing autographs, doing promotional things, etc. It’s so amazing & surreal.
PK: Not too long ago I was flipping through the TV channels and stumbled upon you on a talk show! Can you tell the rugby world about that?
Daniela: Hmmmm…I’m not sure what you are talking about?;) That was a trip…it was a favor for a friend in need – she was super thankful & hopefully I brought some laughs & smiles to the faces of my friends & family.
PK: Folks, she’s being modest. She was on The Tyra Banks Show as a huge Slum Dog Millionaire fan! Was this the beginning of a career in television? You certainly have the look for it.
Daniela: Ahahahaha oh you are too kind…flattery will get you everywhere 😉 Oh I don’t think so at all, I’ll leave that to the pro’s like you, J. [Jen Sinkler]
PK: Well, think about it, at least. Now back to rugby… Who were your most influential coaches while playing with the US?
Daniela: My whole life, in anything I do, I try to respect, learn & take from everyone – every coach I ever had, ex-players, current players, teammates –honestly there are too many to go through…but every one of them have meant the world.
PK: As one of your teammates, I can certainly say you were one of the hardest working and toughest players I have ever had the honor of taking the pitch with. What advice would give to up-and-coming Eagles?
Daniela: Oh thank you so so much – that means the world to me PK!
1) Preparation & Knowledge is power – Fitness (cliché for sure but being in the right shape & healthy is key,) Nutrition, maintenance (stretching, massage) play book, knowing your teammate, knowing your competition –And know you can always learn & grow.
2) So you practice…so you play – Not only in team practices, but this is the commitment you put in on your time– again fitness, but also practicing your skills (hand strengthening, passing, kicking, palming the ball, etc).
3) Communication is Key – being in shape & being able to effectively communicate on the field with your teammates will set you free! Not only will the game be more fun, it will really take you all to the next level.
4) With each other – for each other –Remember you are part of a team – especially in the highest levels – team work, respect, passion, fun & a ton of heart will always be instrumental.
5) Have confidence but be humble & hungry…And have passion and FUN!
PK: We both were coached by Al Caravelli and I believe we both can attest to what an awesome coach he is. What were your feelings in light of his recent resignation as the head coach of the USA Men’s 7s Team?
Daniela: Indeed – I really feel so lucky that I had the opportunity to be coached by Al. He’s an amazing player, coach & person. I especially respected the work ethic & accountability he passioned for – and that coming from a place where he would not ask of someone what he would not do or expect from himself. What he has done is amazing & he should be nothing but proud for all that he has done & all of his accomplishments for USA Rugby –I hope they continue.
PK: D, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me. Save the date for a video interview in the near future my friend!
P.s… Here’s the Jen Sinkler interview, in case you missed it: