The Monday Memo
May 7, 2018 PITT DPT STUDENTS
Students: Bobbie Kolarik and Emily Baumann, DPT Class of 2019
Q: Hey Guys. To get started, would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself: Where did you grow up? Where and what did you study for your undergraduate education?
Bobbie: I bleed black and gold! Pittsburgh born and raised! I went to Allegheny College for my undergraduate where I majored in Neuroscience and minored in English.
Emily: I grew up in New Jersey 20 mins from NYC and came to Pitt for my undergraduate, which is a BS in Rehabilitation Science. Even though I’ve lived in Pittsburgh for a while I don’t bleed black and gold yet like Bobbie.
Q: You guys were/ are both involved on a rugby team. Tell us a little about that. How’d you get involved?
B: I was committed to playing softball at Allegheny, but it was as a walk on status (long story, but I had a spot on the team). However, my final year playing in high school was challenging and I kinda lost my passion for it. I signed up for rugby at the activity fair….not to be a total dork, but I was looking for the Quidditch booth ( “Q” and “R” are super close in the alphabet…). I signed up at the rugby booth with no real commitment (plus Allegheny did not have a Quidditch team at the time….I believe they do now).
….I went to one practice and literally fell in love….I will start my 8th season this year.
E: I remember wanting to play for the LONGEST time- since I first found out rugby was a sport in middle school, but I always just stuck to being a goalkeeper in soccer. My first real exposure to the sport was when I visited my sister at college and watched her team play- I was definitely hooked. Unfortunately, I tore my ACL just before college started, but fortunately I’m too stubborn to let that stop me. I still joined the club rugby team at Pitt and acted as the cheering crew for the first semester. Then when I was fully recovered, I played with them for the duration of undergrad. I always try to seek out local teams though- I played when I was studying in Ireland, while living in Anchorage, and for the first year of PT school with Bobbie on a local Pittsburgh team. I just made the tough decision this past fall to retire, but who knows if that will be permanent.
Q: What position do you play and could you describe it for those of us who aren’t as familiar rugby?
B: Rugby is unique in the fact that the number on the back on your jersey determines your spot. There are 15 people on the field per team. Numbers 1-8 are forwards, who are simply thought to do the “heavy lifting.” Numbers 10-15 are the backs, who are simply thought to be the “fast or quick players.” I know I forgot number 9….who is the scrum half. This is the link between the forwards and backs and is thought to be “the quarterback of rugby.” While I have played all the positions, I mainly play in the forwards. Currently, I play number 2 A.K.A the hooker (I realize how that sounds…) But the position is called that because in the scrums, it is my job to “hook” the ball back to my team to gain possession.
E: I’ve also played multiple positions but I’m always a forward because I run about as fast as a snail. Most of the time I’m a prop because in the scrum I support the hooker (let the jokes continue) and “prop” up the scrum to keep it from collapsing. A scrum is one of the most recognizable things about rugby- it’s when 8 players from each team form a sort of battering ram and push against each other for control of the ball after a penalty. The other notable thing people think of with rugby is our lineouts which happens when the ball goes out of bounds. It’s similar to a throw-in in soccer, but with rugby you have players jumping and being lifted high into the air by their teammates to fight for possession of the ball. My jumping is as pitiful as my running so I do the lifting.
Q: Rugby is known for being a tough sport, tackling with fewer pads involved. Any comment on this?
B: I think all sports have their dangers and rugby is no different. However, if you practice and use the right technique, the dangers drastically decrease. Rugby tackling is very different from football tackling and honestly, over half the tackles I watch in football would result in a penalty in rugby. There are no pads, so I think generally people realize they have to be smart about play to avoid injury. That being said, I have had some nasty bruises in my days. The only equipment you need is a mouth guard and boots (soccer cleats). But you can opt to wear a scrum hat, which I do.
E: I agree that Americans get really deterred when they hear no pads because they immediately think of football tackles which are pretty different from rugby tackles. New players aren’t even allowed to practice in full contact until they learn how to tackle and fall with proper techniques that emphasize safety over power. Obviously when you slam your body into another person you’re going to have some bruises no matter how perfect your form is, but the only injury I even sustained while playing happened because I had sloppy form. There’s a lot of hard work behind the scenes that is focused on playing safe. Many of the official rules are specifically in place to prevent dangerous play and it’s the referee’s primary job to make sure those are followed.
Q: As future physical therapists, how do you think your involvement in the sport will contribute to your future practice?
B: I think it is important to have passions outside of PT. I love rugby and I wish I had found it out sooner to be honest. Rugby, like PT, allows me to continue to challenge myself physically and mentally. I have had the pleasure to treat a couple patients who play rugby and I enjoy thinking up TE that they can use during rugby. It also has cross over to other sports like soccer and football, so I can emphasize with those patient populations and create programs that are functionally fun.
E: The culture surrounding rugby has often been described as cult-like, but you’d be hard pressed to find people more open and accepting. The sport inherently requires a team of players who are diverse in their abilities; the muscly and strong forwards are just as important as the speedy and agile backs. Though the banter between the two sides would lead you to question if we even play the same sport, we welcome these differences and challenge each other to improve and achieve our goals as players. I think this translates really well to my future as a PT where no two patients will be alike and it’s my job to assess their strengths, abilities, weaknesses, and limitations no matter how different they may be and then help them improve to achieve their own goals.
Q: Any competitions in the near future?
B: Our team plays year-round basically. We have games this spring and USA rugby has not yet released our main competitive fall season. When the dates are in, we can post them around if people are interested.
E: Yeah come out for a game or two! It’s a ton of fun to watch and the players are always chatty and willing to answer questions about the game.
Q: What are your career goals or next steps after your graduate?
B: Is undecided still an option here?? I did one inpatient stay my first year and liked it more than I expected….But I also have been working for UPMC for 6 years as a rehab aide in an outpatient setting and I love that….Can I just say I love PT here?
E: I’ve gravitated towards outpatient ortho with past rotations but I don’t have a particular preference for PT settings. I reeeeeally dig the idea of travel PT though. Getting paid to travel around the country and do a job that I love? Yes please!
Q: Anything else you’d like to share with the readers?
B: Don’t let Rugby intimidate you!! Its super fun and if anyone ever wants to come to a practice to just try it….you are always welcomed!! J Don’t knock it till you try it!
E: Not just rugby- don’t knock any sport until you try it. People who have been playing for years make it look easy and it can be disheartening when you’re not immediately a great player. That being said, rugby has an awesome group of people who are more than happy to put in the time and effort to make sure you’re safe and having fun while playing.