Women’s Profile on Kate Turpin

Rugby Magazine’s Women’s Player Profile is on one of my former teammates, Kate Turpin. She’s now ripping up the pitch with the Minnesota Valkyries.

I thought this profile deserved it’s own post and I’m glad I got to catch up with Kate (and Ham) last Saturday in Minneapolis. Plus she gave shoutouts to a bunch of WWRFC alums as well. 🙂


Height: 5’ 10″

Weight: 150 lbs

Birthplace: Champaign, Illinois

Birthdate: 1/14/75 (31)

Present residence: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Occupation: Laboratory Technician

Marital/relationship status: Single

College: University of Illinois

Years playing rugby: 12

Positions: Center, wing

Present club: Minnesota Valkyries

Previous clubs: University of Illinois, Wisconsin Women

Eagle 7s matches: Eight

Territorial experience: Midwest RFU All-Stars, 1999-present; Midwest 7s All Stars, 2002-present (captain 2004-2005)

Local union experience: Wisconsin RFU, 1999- 2004; Minnesota RFU, 2005-present

Most valuable teammates: Julia Lauzen, all my girls from the University of Illinois – Go Illini! Dani, Spotty, Elina, Shari Dalberg, Phaidra and Sue; and last but not least, Kristen Zdanczewicz, Jen Sinkler and all my Valkyrie sisters

Most difficult opposing team: Berkley All Blues

Most respected player (same position): I don’t really consider myself a true center but as far as true centers go I think that Pam Kosanke from Chicago North Shore is one of the toughest players in the sport.

How were you introduced to rugby? My dorm roommate at the University of Illinois wanted to go “check out the rugby team” and didn’t want to go by herself. So, she made me go with her. I had never heard of rugby before I went to my first practice, and I haven’t stopped playing since.

Biggest influence on rugby career: Julia Lauzen – so talented and so driven that she made rugby important. Bryn Chivers was my first coach and the first person to tell me that I was “good enough” to try out. Mark Santiago who inspired me to keep playing 7s, which turned into some terrific opportunities with the US 7s program. And, of course, Barb Fugate and the Valkyries influence me daily. I become a better rugby player at every practice.

Best memory in rugby: I have two. 1. Beating Marquette to win the 1998 Midwest Collegiate Championship, earning Illinois its first national tournament berth. 2. Beating New York in the semifinals of last year’s National Club Championship. Nobody expected us to win except us.

Biggest disappointment in rugby: Losing to Berkley in the final of the 2005 National Club Championship

Childhood rugby hero: Michael Jordan (I know, I know, but I didn’t start playing rugby till I was old.)

Tours: Canada 2001 with the US 15s team, Barbados 2005 with the US 7s, various tours in college

Best country visited: I’m a beach girl. Barbados wins hands down.

Area where us rugby needs work: Rugby needs to be seen and more mainstreamed via media coverage and education. The more mainstream the sport, the more sponsorships and funding it could attract. Plus if I hear “They let girls play rugby?!” one more time…

Area where us rugby has improved: The youth involvement is exploding and is definitely a huge step toward letting the general public in on our little rugby secret.

Goals in rugby: I want to stay healthy and play competitively for as long as possible and maybe win a national championship along the way.

Favorite post-match ritual: A rousing game of flippy-cup

Other sports: Basketball and beer-bridge

Leisure interests: Leisure? What’s leisure?

Significant books: Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Thinking Body, Dancing Mind

Favorite character in literature: Harry Potter

Favorite films: Star Wars, Million Dollar Baby, anything with a good fight scene

Favorite character in film: Blade

Favorite TV programs: CSI

Favorite musical groups: BoDeans, Maroon 5, Missy Elliot, Usher, Melissa Etheridge

Best referee: Tom Coburn

Best administrator: Anne Barry

Best playing field: The pitches at the University of Illinois

Best tournament: Cape Fear (every year but the “white trash” year), Ruggerfest (Ft. Lauderdale) 2005, 2006

Best coach: Barb Fugate

Best manager: Jane Tierney

Best captain: Jen Sinkler

Personal goals: My goals are to laugh a lot, take a real vacation, learn how to rock climb and treasure every memory and friendship that I’ve made and will make along the way.

Claim to fame: I lose everything!

Most embarrassing moment in rugby: I got fully de-pants in my second rugby game ever because I was wearing blue cotton shorts and not so flattering undies. I bought real rugby shorts very soon after that.

Favorite quote: Toilet humor will always be funny. – Kate Turpin



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