Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Grand Valley State College isn’t a typical powerhouse in women’s rugby, but they have a very A-typical player bringing them national attention: Joanna Kitlinski. She is a senior who has made the 24-player Collegiate All-America first team.

“It’s definitely exciting, especially coming from a Division II school that many people don’t know about,” Joanna told press. “There are girls on that list from Stanford, Penn State and schools like that. I was very surprised to be on the first team.”

She picked up the love of the game when she was a college freshman. In high school, she ran cross country and track; not exactly an obvious segway into rugby, but that didn’t matter.

“A girl in my dorm played rugby and she told me there weren’t any tryouts,” Joanna remembered. “She said anyone could make the team, so I went to see what it was like. I loved it from the first day. I always wanted to play a contact sport. I did powder puff (football) in high school, but that really wasn’t a contact sport. I always knew I would be good at contact sports, and with rugby you can start anytime.

Kitlinski takes pride in playing to her full potential. She rarely tires during games. She also has a mean streak.

“I think I am just relentless,” she said. “When I’m playing a game, I don’t give up. I look around and see other players tired, but I get pumped up as the game goes on. I play better when I’m angry at somebody.”