ATLANTA, GA – When you think of the Atlanta area, women’s rugby probably isn’t the first thing to come to mind. With a wide array of sports options ranging from soccer to basketball to baseball, one might not think to stop by to watch a women’s club playing in Kennesaw. The Atlanta 2.0 Selects are trying to change that.
Founding members Amanda Lam, now president, and Jacque Alford, now player representative, both started their rugby careers at Kennesaw State University, a college that’s seen its fair share of club rugby rosters. There, they found a sense of community and family as they played through their college years, a feeling that unfortunately became fleeting as they entered adult clubs after graduation. After hanging up their boots for a minute, they decided they wanted to give it a try one more time, but this time, they wanted something different.
Thus, the Atlanta 2.0 Selects were born. The initial founding in October 2022 was meager compared to the journey about to unfold, but, even in the first few weeks, Lam and Alford both knew they had something special. They focused less on playing perfectly, and rather, spent their time centering in on growing the game. Taking the KSUWRFC family-feel values to a whole new level, they soon found themselves with overflowing numbers at practices. At one tournament, even, they rostered three teams to compete.
That pride would only be magnified as in July, less than a year after the club’s founding, the Selects found themselves qualifying for the USA Club 7s National Tournament. Let’s back up a little though. At the beginning of the summer, the Selects were even hesitant to try their luck at a Premier tournament, but ultimately decided to put their team to the test. They realized that weekend they worked well together, lighting a fire within the team that carried on into the next tournament, then the next, then the one after that. Folks were putting their boots back on just to play with them, and a team of 90% D2 athletes who had not played since their college days made their way into qualification.
The emotions? Shock, joy, and fear, all rolled into one. This was a team of firsts. Athletes’ first time playing 7s, teammates’ first time at a national tournament of any level, and, just as a reminder, this was their first season as a team at all. Qualifying for Nationals bridged everything they had been working towards, with players from all different backgrounds, colleges, and levels working together for their common goal.
Unfortunately, the result of Nationals wasn’t exactly what the team wanted. With two losses (although by close scores) the Selects learned they had even more growing to do. That didn’t hinder Lam and Alford’s positivity, though, as they reiterated that this was simply a stepping stone. The tournament helped them learn and grow as a team, teaching them to work together in ways they hadn’t realized before. Despite being down, the Selects never gave up. They followed the culture they had been promoting the entire summer, one of growth and resilience, and, when things got tough, they kept fighting.
So, what’s next for the Atlanta 2.0 Selects? Well, according to Lam and Alford, its all about the building. At the time of this interview, they had just completed their first week of 15s, and, overall, were hopeful about the future of the team. Their focus for now is on recruitment and growth, which they’re succeeding at by emulating the family they had back at KSU. This is a team that has a genuine love for community and ruggers alike, and they aren’t afraid to show it. Alford even mentioned that, “What [they]’re hoping to do is make it more than a rugby program; make it more like a mentorship program.”
Overall, the Selects are here to stay. This fall, they’ll be playing in the D2 Matrix for CGRU. They’re building a legacy that will last far beyond them and building a community both on and off the field for anyone interested in the great game of rugby. I have a feeling this won’t be the last time we see Atlanta 2.0 at Nationals, nor will it be the last time we talk about their impact on the game.