Athlete of the Week: rugby player Gillian McRae

Senior Gillian McRae has picked up this season right where she left off last season, after winning an early tournament MVP in August, She is currently leading the conference in Tris and is the third leading tackler in the conference with 12. Cedar Falls is at the top of the conference with a record of 4-0, coming off a win over last year’s state champs, Southeast Polk.


For you, what was a highlight of your most recent competition? 

A highlight of my most recent competition was beating Southeast Polk’s rugby team. Southeast Polk won State last year, and they are one of our biggest competitors, so we had a lot of adrenaline going into the game. We ended up winning 12-10, and it was one of the best games yet because everyone put in 100 percent during the game, and it paid off for us. 


What makes your sport special and different? 

I think rugby is special because it’s not a very well known sport and many teams are still forming and starting up, so it is really cool to be toward the beginning of an up-and-coming sport and program. Rugby is different because it doesn’t follow the format of other traditional sports, but it allows people of all athletic backgrounds to have a role on the field with the combination of tackling, running and other aspects. 


How long have you been into this sport, and what were the early days of your participation? 

 I started rugby my junior year, so this is my second year of participation. Last year, in my first season, it was very nerve racking to join and start a new sport, especially because I only had two years left of high school, and I wondered if it was even worth it. I am so thankful that I ended up trying it out because it allowed me to become better at a new sport, and it also allowed me to create long lasting friendships with people that I otherwise may have never met.


How did/do you cope with any setbacks/losses you’ve experienced in your sport?

I think the most important thing to think about after a loss or a setback is just to not dwell on the past and move on from what happened. It is good to use those losses and setbacks as motivation to push yourself and improve. 


Do you have plans to play this sport after high school? 

I don’t have any current plans to, but I am definitely interested in doing so. I love this sport, and I am not quite ready to give it up.  


What has been a highlight for you/your team so far this season?

So far we have gone 4-0 in our games, and in each game I feel like my team has put in such hard work, and it really is paying off for us. Getting to know the new team I am playing with and connecting on the field is definitely one of my highlights this season. 


What do you feel you bring to the team?

I think that I bring a positive environment to the team, and I try to make sure everyone on the team feels like they belong and are a valuable player. I try to ensure that before every game, our players feel ready to go and are ready to give it their all.  

What mark do you want to leave behind on this team once you graduate?

Our No. 1 goal is to win State this year, so I hope that I can help to bring home that big trophy and it can be the first one for girls rugby in our trophy case here.

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