Steamboat women’s rugby club enters fifth season, seeks new recruits | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat women’s rugby club enters fifth season, seeks new recruits

Austin Colbert

Heather Biewick competes for the Steamboat Springs women's rugby club in the 2015 Cow Pie Classic at the Ski Town Fields in Steamboat. The club is entering its fifth year and is looking to add members for the upcoming summer season.

— Heather Biewick was a track and field athlete in high school, a far cry from the sport that has since stolen her heart. She attended the University of Northern Colorado, where she discovered the hard-hitting world of rugby.

A decade later, Biewick continues to make the game a major component of her life.

"Really, the sport just continues to find me," she said. "I just wanted some sort of activity to do in college. I was getting restless with my history as an athlete. I just had a natural knack for it."

Biewick was one of the founding four who helped start the Steamboat Springs women's rugby football club, which goes by the nickname "Charging Heifers," in 2012. While the popular and successful Steamboat men's rugby club was founded in 1971, the women's team is only entering its fifth season this summer.

Two of the original four women — Biewick and team captain Sarah Tiedeken — remain vital parts of the club. This, along with the return of a large core group of women from those first few teams, has the club on the rise.

"We never really thought it would go this far," Biewick said. "Once we, the founders, get too old to play, will the club (succeed) us? This year, I've seen a lot more leadership and passion from all the team members. I think it will survive."

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Steamboat unofficially opened its season earlier this month at the 40th annual Maggotfest tournament in Missoula, where it joined members of Eugene's rugby club and even defeated the host team.

Biewick said they "were pretty much off the couch" in terms of preparation for the first tournament. Formal practices — held from 6 to 8 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at Whistler Park — have picked up since, in anticipation of the Teton Tens Tournament on June 25 in Jackson, Wyoming.

There is hope the team can fit in a friendly before then.

"We would love anybody that's interested to come down and play," Biewick said. "I would encourage anyone who even has an inkling to come check it out, because I think they'll find, while the sport is intimidating, the girls that play are welcoming."

Sponsorship is a big part of the club's continued existence. Old Town Pub is its title sponsor and will host events for the club throughout the season, including a crucial fundraiser June 11. Honey Stinger, Vertical Arts and Mountain West Insurance also sponsor the team.

Biewick expects to have a roster of around 20 women by the time they reach Jackson. Most players range from their mid-20s to mid-30s and range from no experience to having played competitively at various levels. Tiedeken, for example, played for the University of Oregon.

Anyone interested in learning more about playing can simply show up to practice or reach out to the team through the club's website, steamboatwomensrugby.weebly.com. They can also be reached on Facebook and Instagram.

"Rugby, in general, is kind of like a family mentality," Biewick said. "Girls come out, and all of a sudden, they've got 10 new best friends."

The only time Steamboat will be at home this summer, outside of any possible friendlies, is the 42nd annual Cow Pie Classic, scheduled for the weekend of July 9.

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email acolbert@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert

2016 Steamboat women’s rugby club schedule

June 25 Teton Tens Tournament, Jackson, Wyoming

July 9 Cow Pie Classic Tournament, Steamboat Springs

July 23 15’s Match, Boulder

Aug. 6 Ski Town Tournament, Vail