I get a lot of questions when I tell people I play women’s rugby. Yes, it is a full-contact sport. No, we do not wear pads. Yes, there is a spot on the team for a 5 foot, 2 inch petite lady, and no, I have not yet gotten a black eye. In conversations with others, I always insist that joining rugby was one of the best choices I made in college. I gained both a literal and figurative support team as we tackled challenges on and off the field together and found a great adrenaline outlet. I continued playing in graduate school, where my team and coach helped me transition to a new place and assisted me with balancing my roles as a para-professional and full-time student. Rugby has always provided me with positive communities and unmatched stress-relief.
When relocating and beginning my first professional position, I knew I wanted to stay involved in the rugby world. I had been exploring methods of involvement outside of playing to learn more about the administration of the sport and to give back to the community. When exploring the USA Rugby website, I found that a nearby college was searching for an Assistant Coach for their women’s club rugby team. I had not initially considered coaching, but after meeting with the team’s student leadership and the institution’s Director of Student Activities, I found a great fit that matched both my personal needs and professional skills. I am able to utilize my student affairs competencies and connect with students in a different type of role while gaining the benefits of being involved in one of my passions. Truly the best of all worlds!
There are a variety of benefits from my coaching side hustle that make be a better student affairs professional. Even in a comparably smaller role, I am employed and accountable to an additional institution and group of students. I have to effectively balance my priorities and structure my work to complete my day’s tasks by 5pm and get out the door to go to practice. Knowing I cannot stay late, as I have another responsibility, has made me much more productive in my 8am-5pm work hours.
My coaching job has also helped me grow my professional network. By coaching at a different institution, I have learned about a new institutional context and connected with a host of higher education professionals. As a student organization, my team works with the Office of Student Activities and I have been able to form strong relationships with their student involvement professionals. We regularly communicate about best practices in campus programming and trouble-shooting student organization issues. I also work with a Head Coach who has over 40 years of rugby experience and has become an excellent coaching mentor and friend on and off the field.
I get a lot of joy out of my side hustle. I love being outside and active. Rugby, both as a player and a coach, provides an escape and an adrenaline outlet. No matter what has happened in a day, going to practice gives me a break from my running to-do list and allows me to fully focus on athletic skills and working with a great team. I am a happier person and more positive student involvement professional as a result. Coaching is also a whole lot of fun! My team is a group of funny, smart, and talented women who inspire me daily and regularly make me laugh. I have enjoyed my off-season and can’t wait to get back at it with them on the pitch this fall!
This post is part of our #SAsidehustles series, which focuses on the SA pros with a second passion. These Student Affairs Professionals transition their mental and physical energy into a project that acts as both an emotional release and some level of supplemental income. From Etsy shops to horse braiding, these stories are bound to make you want to find your “by night” side hustle. For more information, check out the intro post by Tom Krieglstein. Be sure to read the other posts in this series too!