Women’s Rugby Team Proves Rowdier Than College Fraternities!May 25th, 2006 Robyn Suddeth
The theme on the Kaweah River these past few weekends has been all about team bonding and brotherhood. With two fraternities doing trips (one from UCLA and one from USC), and then a masters women’s rugby team joining us this last Sunday, we were prepared for some pretty rowdy and crazy days.
Our premonitions seemed to be coming true this last Friday night, when a van pulled in to the campground parking lot and about 20 fraternity boys started cheering, “All right! The keg is here!” And because hangovers aren’t especially condusive to strong, aggressive paddling, no matter how young and fit you are, we all thought, “Uh oh.”
But what I should have remembered from those days not so long ago that I was in a sorority at UCLA, college students have an amazing ability to go from seemingly dysfunctional human beings to totally composed and capable adults in a very short amount of time.
And so, to our pleasant surprise, those fraternity brothers “rallied” the next morning, arriving at put-in completely energized and focused for the day. (Well, most of them anyway.)
Throughout the trip, they energetically showed their love for each other in that special way that guys do, yelling remarks like “He said PADDLE, not hide in the middle of the boat!” and “C’mon freshmen… learn your left from your right!” (Usually followed with hearty laughter and some kind of equally respectful retort.)
Periodic teasing and outbursts aside though, we had a really smooth and calm day on the river. The older guys in the house patiently waited until flat water sections to start jumping out of boats and wresting “pledges” into the river, and only one rapid managed to surprise three guys by knocking them out of the boat for an unintentional swim.
Back in camp after the trip, we felt like all-in-all, we had had a surprisingly easy, fun day. The fraternity guys all packed up camp, offered us a few earnest handshakes and thanks, then sped out of the parking lot back to LA, kicking up dust in their wake.
On to the next trip.
We had a women’s rugby team coming in from L.A., and then a few people that work in our Walnut Creek reservations office. Whereas we had had a pretty good idea of what the fraternity trip was going to be like, we didn’t quite know what to expect from a master’s rugby team. I was really excited, however, about the prospect of taking some fellow female athletes down the river. (I always wanted to get my water polo team out there in college but never managed to put it all together.)
We woke up that morning to rain pounding down on the roof of the gear shed we had slept in. With grey skies and colder weather, the day had the potential for being a bit more mellow and slow than the trip before.
Despite the weather, though, those women rugby players turned out to be even louder and crazier than 40 college fraternity brothers. The heckling was more constant and just as funny as the day before, with “rookies” replacing the previous day’s “freshmen.” Boats teamed up against each other and found numerous ways of implying that their particular crew was paddling harder and better than anyone else’s “wimpy” crews.
And of course, women have their own special way of teasing that can sometimes be even more entertaining than guys’ witty challenges to each other’s manhood. It’s called gossip. Much to Brad and Matt’s enjoyment and, sometimes, embarrassment, remarks were being yelled across boats about so-and-so thinking Brad was cute, and how maybe she should concentrate more on paddling than on the hot guide behind her. (Of course all the girls just thought this was hilarious, and the purpose of the remark was more to hoot and holler at Brad‘s reactions than to actually embarrass each other.)
During the rapids, though, the women totally concentrated on the task at hand, focusing on working together as teammates and doing the best job possible. And at the end of each big one, I never even had to lead them in a “paddle high-five.” They took care of that all on their own, raising their paddles into the air and letting out loud and excited cheers.
I have to say that I was proud to see these women put on such a strong and rowdy showing. The day was incredibly fun, and they paddled with the best of them. There was only one unintentional swim in the beginning of the day, and the rain actually added a very cool feel to the river, covering it in mist and making the rapids seem just a little more intimidating.
Both days were awesome, but I have a little bit of a bias to seeing women adventuring out there and throwing themselves whole-heartedly into the activity with that special humour and comraderie that only another woman can totally appreciate.
Either way, though, is was great to see some big groups and teams bonding together on the river. Hopefully those fraternities and rugby players weren’t the last ones we see out there this year.
I, for one, am going to email my old water polo teammates and finally put together that trip that should have happened years ago. Thanks to that women’s rugby team for some much-appreciated inspiration!