Liz Villagran, a senior forward for Southern Illinois University has been a key player for the lady Salukis ever since she began playing for the team.
Villagran got interested in rugby after watching her best friend play for the men’s team at Southern but it was not until she was approached by a one of the girls on the team did she start playing. She soon realized how much athleticism is needed to play the sport. “My best friend played rugby for the men’s team here at SIU. I would go watch him play. It wasn’t until one girl that had just started playing approached me at a party and said I should play. So I went to their practice the following week and was overwhelmed by my lack of athleticism. I skipped the next day because my body was in so much pain. I returned the third day and so began my fatal attraction to the sport,” explained Villagran.
Saying Villagran loves playing for Southern would be an understatement. She has found her experiences very rewarding and works her hardest to represent SIU the best she can on the pitch. She said, “Playing for SIU has been very rewarding. Although difficulties arise, the team is very proactive and we get ourselves and the team in good shape. We all love rugby and do whatever we can to represent the school well.”
Villagran’s favorite moment is a recent one and a moment every rugby player can recall, their first try. ” I was supporting one of the backs. I called for the ball as she was being tackled and ran towards the try zone. I had two girls holding on to me but I was still pushing through. When I was finally brought down by a third girl, I placed the ball for a ruck. I didn’t even realize I made it to the try zone,” explained Villagran.
Rugby means the world to Villagran and has helped her meet life long friends and some of the most important people in her life. Through rugby, she has found best friends and even a significant other. Rugby has helped her become a better person all together. “Aside from the sport being amazing, every single part of my life has to do with rugby. I’m in better shape since I started playing. My grades are better. If i hadn’t joined the team, I’d literally have one good friend in Carbondale. I met my roommates on the team and I met my boyfriend through the men’s team. I have a second family because of rugby,” said Villagran.
The SIU women’s team has taken the semester off in an effort to rebuild their program but Gift-Time Rugby wishes the best to the women’s team as they look to dominate in their Fall 2015 campaign!