Despite the lack of overall experience for most players on the team, the Long Beach State rugby team is one club team that set the bar high last season and hope to set it even higher in what is only their second official season.
Prior to last year, the team didn’t have the ability to play in any form of regular season. But now, after finishing second in league least year, they’re setting goals that you would expect from a group of talented veterans.
One constant in the group is head coach Brooke Bassinger who brings along her fair share of experience. Coach Bassinger played for 12 years, oftentimes being the captain and asserting herself as a leader on a number of all-star teams. That experience paired with five years of experience as a coach at USC prompted a call that she received in 2010 from the LBSU men’s rugby team.
“We really started the team from scratch,” coach Bassinger said. “And because we had done so much work up front recruiting people, developing players, making sure they got a good introduction to the sport, we were able to develop a really strong team.”
If there was ever a group of freshman rugby players that didn’t necessarily look the part, the team from last season was certainly it.
A lot of players on the team are familiar with a team mentality given their experience with other sports like soccer and basketball. Sophomore fullback Crystal Brown and senior fly back Ashley Ramirez are two players that fit that description and have stepped up in a major way for their team and coach Bassinger.
“It was something new and different,” Ramirez said. “This was like nothing I played before so it was cool learning a new sport.”
Other players share that same sentiment and have continued to make sacrifices for a team that plans on surpassing marks made last season.
“This team has really put together a great culture,” coach Bassinger said. “They have really created a great environment. That is part of rugby culture in general but they are especially good at it.”