For nearly a decade, Armed Forces Sports has been diligently trying to set up a women's rugby program. Through trial and error it seems that it is no longer a dream, but now a reality.
In July 2015, the first official women's rugby team was finally assembled and 2nd Lt. Jacqueline Marks, a platoon leader with the 557th Military Police Company, 94th Military Police Battalion assigned to the 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, took the challenge with open arms and a grit like no other.
After a much anticipated wait, the applicants were sent to trial camp where they endured several tests in which 16 women were chosen of nearly 80 applicants.
U.S. Army Second Lt. Jacqueline Marks, a platoon leader with the 557th Military Police Company, 94th Military Police Battalion, assigned to the 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, takes her platoon through react to contact drills at the Rodriguez Range complex in area one South Korea, November 4, 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Veasley)
During the trial camp, Marks had to out compete five of the 16 women who were at the camp to move on in the selection process. Marks and 11 other women made the final cut and were selected to attend and compete in the first military training camp for Women's Armed Forces Sevens Rugby in Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, in August.
“The lifestyle and culture of rugby is something that I've never experienced with any other sport,” said Marks. “You have to trust that your teammate is going to be there to protect you when are getting tackled. They need to be able to trust that you will be there for them. It's a beautiful sport that forces a strong bond between you and your teammates.”
From a young age Marks was always involved in athletics in one way or another, whether it be soccer, basketball, softball, or track. Soccer was her main sport; she played soccer in high school and was the senior Varsity co-captain. She continued to play soccer her freshman year at Norwich University for the women's varsity Division III college team, during this time she became interested in rugby through her college roommate. After several months of deliberations she decided to try out for the Norwich University's women's rugby team in the spring and has never looked back.
Second Lt. Jacqueline Marks, a platoon leader with the 557th Military Police Company, 94th Military Police Battalion, assigned to the 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, plays in the USA Rugby Elite City Sevens Tournament in Philadelphia that occurred Aug. 29-30, 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Veasley)
Before pursuing the Armed Forces Rugby League, Marks played for the Norwich University Division I Women's Rugby Varsity Team for three years for both Fifteens and Sevens level rugby. Her team went on to win five national championships.
Her journey in Women's Armed Forces Rugby started when her Coach, Austin Hall, initially recommended her for the opportunity to attend the first Armed Forces Rugby trial camp in Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.
“This is definitely a journey that I am proud I started. Rugby is a lifestyle and a culture that I want to be a part of and pass down to future generations,” she said.
Marks succeeded in making the starting line-up for the team, earning the number three jersey to compete in the USA Rugby Elite City Sevens Tournament in Philadelphia that occurred Aug. 29-30, 2015.
“Making the starting lineup was a very exciting milestone for me. I just enjoy the game so much and I enjoy competing. Rugby is demanding and it keeps me both physically and mentally strong, which is very important as an Army Officer. I am glad I have the opportunity to lead on and off the field,” she said.
“I am extremely grateful for this opportunity and hope that the program continues to grow and will hopefully become as strong as the Men's Armed Forces Sevens Rugby program in the next few years.”
Marks will be on the Women's Armed Forces Rugby Team for a year and will compete in any tournaments that the team competes in.
By U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Veasley
Provided through DVIDS
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