By Spc. Jacob Dunlap and Spc. John Randall, 123rd Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentOctober 23, 2019
PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Practices in the hot, sticky, North Carolina summer last six hours a day on the turf field, making conditions that much more grueling. Sweat flows, feet hurt and the heat will only intensify as the athletes prepare for their upcoming tournament.
San Antonio native Spc. Samantha Coleman, a motor transport operator with the 2220th Transportation Company in Tucson, is one of the athletes on the All-Army Women's Rugby Team.
Coleman bounced around schools playing basketball and learning mixed martial arts, and she began playing rugby about a year ago. While playing with her team in Tucson, she learned about the All-Army Women's Team.
"I've only been playing like, less than a year," Coleman said. "You never know unless you try."
With encouragement from her teammates, she decided to go through the competitive application process.
She made the team that consisted of officers and non-commissioned officers. She had a feeling she wasn't good enough to be with these leaders.
"I don't deserve to be here," Coleman said. "I'm so outclassed. But, it's like, you know what? The worst they can do is say no."
1st Lt. Kasey McCravey, captain All-Army Women's Rugby Team and member of the U.S. Women's National Rugby Team, attributes Coleman's success to her desire to learn.
"She has an ability to take information and apply it immediately," McCravey said. "She would do the extras and she was a positive light to the team."
"You may feel like you're just a regular specialist, or whatever you may be," said Coleman. "But the work you do matters."
Making the team was just the beginning. She and the team had to endure a summertime training camp in North Carolina.
"That training camp is honestly the highlight of my life," Coleman said. "Because everyone's on the same page and trying to get better and grow."
"She came in having defensive strength and she was weaker on her passing," said McCravey. "She stayed longer with the coaches and other players and improved her passing skills."
The team's hard work was in preparation for the Armed Forces Sports first Women's Rugby Championship in Wilmington, North Carolina, July 5 and 6, when all military branches play each other.
Army dominated the competition, going undefeated in the tournament. The victory garnered an invitation to the Cape Fear Tournament July 6-7, where Army faced tougher competition and placed third.
"The whole concept about rugby is community and family," said Coleman. "More so than any other sport I've been a part in."
Coleman's rugby team is family, just like being in the Army. "If you're having a moment of weakness, or whatever," Coleman said. "You're just like, we're in this together, embrace the suck."
Coleman plans to continue playing rugby for the Army. After getting her degree, she wants to be commissioned as an intelligence officer.
"The Army has let me pursue a lot of my passions," said Coleman. "That's a real family. They would do anything for you, because you would do anything for them."
The self-doubt Coleman felt when she first joined the team has given way to a better sense of worth.
"Don't count yourself out before you even try," Coleman said. "Don't let other people make you small."