The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Senior Shelby Sencindiver reflects on rugby career

3 min read
By ASHLEIGH GRIM Staff Writer Virginia native, Shelby Sencindiver, had not played rugby before beginning her freshman year at Mary Wash four years ago.

Mike H. | Rugby Photographer


Staff Writer

Virginia native, Shelby Sencindiver, had not played rugby before beginning her freshman year at Mary Wash four years ago. That, however, did not curb her ability to develop an unbridled passion for the sport. Now you can spot her playing scrum half as #9 or occasionally fullback as #15 at matches.

Sencindiver acknowledges that she took the cliche of trying new things in college very seriously, and decided dabbling in the demanding contact sport of rugby would fit the bill perfectly. She joined the team her first semester at the university in fall of 2015.

Now a senior finishing her studies in international affairs and geographic information systems, she noted with nostalgia and enthusiasm this spring will close out her fourth and final year in the program. She regards rugby as the first sport she has taken a serious interest in, and she also loves to share rugby with others.

“Rugby is a tough sport at first, but anyone can do it,” said Sencindiver.

According to Sencindiver, the try out process is simply putting yourself out there and communicating with Coach Kris Kabza. “No previous experience is required,” she said. “I surely didn’t have any when I joined.”

Life as a student athlete comes with its challenges, especially effectively managing the time available out of class and practice. 

“I keep a calendar and a planner [to keep] me organized and [assist] in managing my time. It also helps to meet with my professors, often. Many of them help me organize myself and keep me on track,” said Sencindiver.

Even though she is a busy senior balancing work, school, and extracurriculars, she still finds to time to do the things she loves. Being artistic, she mainly composes and plays music on her guitar during her free time, but also enjoys painting on occasion. 

Sencindiver noted in addition to time management, her tenure as a rugby player has taught her a myriad of lessons that carry over into and benefit her day-to-day life. 

“Rugby has taught me how to communicate, problem solve, and maintain my patience. It’s a very complex and demanding game–much like life is,” said Sencindiver.

She loves the teamwork aspect of the sport and fondly regards her team members as “a pretty awesome group of ladies.” It is evident the team holds a strong sense of community given the way Sencindiver talks about her comrades.

Her favorite memory of her time on the team involves her teammates. It took place earlier in her career on the way down to the 2016 National Championship in South Carolina. She said, “Nothing beats traveling with your team. The bus ride there and back was full of many priceless memories.” She said that these memories were made sweeter jamming out to “All Star” by Smashmouth.

When specifically asked what the rugby team means to her, Sencindiver affectionately responded, “My rugby team at Mary Wash means everything to me. I’ve been honored to play with these amazing ladies for four years. I’ve had the opportunity to learn and grow alongside my best friends, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

You can catch Sencindiver and the UMW Women’s Rugby Team’s first match of the season this Saturday, Feb. 16, at James Madison University or Feb. 23 against Old Dominion University at home.

A previous version of this article was incorrectly attributed to Ashleigh Grim. It has since been corrected.