All it took was an inspirational advertisement from the U.S. Marines to push Mary Alice Smith into the sport she cherishes today.
The advertisement created by her future coach, Tim Wilson, showed a woman playing rugby in muddy conditions. This did not put Smith off, but instead made her even more curious. After a few Google searches and talks with her parents, she joined the only women’s rugby team in Georgia, the East Cobb Amazons.
Smith, a recent graduate from Pope, had little choice of where she would play rugby as no Georgia high schools carry the sport. Once on the Amazons, she quickly fell in love with the sport because of the way it was played and the teamwork involved.
“The teamwork in rugby is different than any other sport,” Smith said. “No one person can win the game by themselves.”
Teamwork is an essential part of rugby and highlights Smith’s favorite aspect of each game — the scrum. The scrum is a reset in rugby where each team is given a chance to fight for possession. Smith played an important role in each scrum as she was one of two props who would try to push the opposing team off of the line and gain possession.
“That was our time in the game where we were important and had the power to change the outcome,” Smith said.
Smith credited Wilson with putting in lots of work to get the players ready each week. With only one team in the state, the season required a lot of travel and the Amazons merged with a team from Greenville, South Carolina, during the season to add another obstacle to the schedule.
“We would only get to practice with the Carolina girls for an hour before each game,” Smith said. “Coach had very little time to work with, and he still always had us ready.”
Despite limited practice time, the Amazons were able to go 4-1 after the merger and reach the semifinals of the Mid South Independent Rugby League tournament before it was canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic. Smith credited Wilson and her teammates for putting in time and the Amazons working hard to win while being the underdog in most games.
“Most teams we played would underestimate us,” Smith said. “We were a hodge-podge team with little practice time, but we would still go out and cream them.”
After receiving many offers to play rugby in college, Smith decided to attend the University of Georgia, where she plans to study art history and play club rugby.
The sport has become a large part of Smith’s life, and she is thankful for every memory along the way.
“It was an awesome season,” she said. “I am so thankful for everyone involved.”