The BYU women’s rugby team is now the best division one women’s rugby team in the nation!
By Quincey Taylor
Among the 30,000 students that currently attend Brigham Young University, there is only one that is both a nursing student and a member of the BYU women’s rugby team. Her name is Larissa Graham, and she helped the team win the 2019 Spring College National Championship on May 4. The College of Nursing wants to say congratulations and is proud to have one of our students participate on this intense sports team.
Graham, who just finished her first semester in the nursing program, originally attended Western Michigan University on a basketball scholarship. It was only after dropping her scholarship to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that she decided to transfer to BYU.
She had not considered playing rugby until a fellow student and past team player urged her to try out. Graham explains, “Someone in my writing 150 class was actually on the team previously, and she said, ‘Oh, yeah, you should totally do it.’ I saw posters around the school and it kind of peaked my interest.” Rugby tryouts happened to be the same week as basketball tryouts. She decided to go to both.
After seeing the close relationship between the rugby players, Graham felt the excitement and wanted to be a part of it. It impacted her when she heard the players call each other “sisters” instead of “teammates.” She says, “I’ve been on a lot of teams in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever found a team that had as close to a bond as this rugby team did.”
Even though she had never played the sport before, Graham made the team. She has now been a critical member of the team for the past four semesters. She plays “lock,” which is a position that does a lot of the tackling. She is in the core of the scrum, and is not afraid of getting a little roughed up. She is also the player that is lifted during lineout, having an increased advantage by being six feet tall.
After winning the national championship, the team rushed the field, hugging and crying out in joy.
Graham always knew she wanted to help other people. She says, “Since I was little, I wanted to work somewhere in the medical field. I wanted to be a doctor at first, and then I met fantastic nurse practitioners at our local family clinic and I just really wanted to be like them. They’re like the nurses that knew your name every time you came in. They remembered your family history and background. They asked you about the sports season that you’re in or religion stuff going on and they just knew who we were. I just wanted to be a personal nurse like them and help make an impact in someone’s life like they did in mine.”
Graham enjoyed her first semester and is excited to continue in the program. It has not been easy balancing the two passions, but Graham feels she has found equilibrium in her life. “I’ve noticed that the busier I am, the more likely I am to succeed. It’s kind of backwards,” she expounds, “It forces me to have a schedule.”
With such a physical sport, it is not a surprise that Graham regularly uses her nursing skills on the field with the help of assistant coach and nursing alumna Monica Jackson (’13). She laughs, “A lot of the players know that I’m a nursing student and they ask me every question in the book.” She has been able to give advice to players who are injured and is excited to grow her pool of knowledge in the following years.
Rugby has made a huge impact in Graham’s life, and she intends to continue playing on the team for as long as she can. She says, “It’s been really awesome to have a support group and immediate friends… It’s actually been a really big blessing in my life.”
So, look out for number five next time you see the team play! For anyone considering going to the next tryouts in August, know that you could not be joining a better group of sisters out there. Graham comments, “I’m excited to see the talent that we get, and I’m excited for the momentum that we have. I feel like we’re just starting the momentum. It’s building. So, I’m excited. I think the team is excited. The program as a whole is excited.”