From Gridiron to the Pitch

From Gridiron to the Pitch

             In the next month, University of Saint Mary’s (Leavenworth, Kansas) football squad will have its first female athlete, Meya Bizer. But this future footballer is not limited to the gridiron. Bizer ‘s selection for U20 USA Women’s National Rugby team will put her at the center of young women’s elite rugby this July.


Bizer, 18 years old, has been playing football since middle school, with a brief absence, and plans to continue into her college years with a full 4-year scholarship in the fall. Only recently, the past two years has Bizer made her way to the rugby pitch.


Last November Bizer participated in the U17 USA women’s rugby camp in southern California where Bryn Chivers, head coach of the U20 USA National Women’s team, decided to invite her to the Florida selection camp in March.


This was new territory for Bizer whose home club team, Woodlands Rugby Club in Texas, only had 13 players on the roster. Not only was the number of athletes a change for Bizer, the increased speed of play left an impression. “I expected it to be fast, but didn’t expect it to go from a ruck and all the way through the back line all within about three seconds,” she said. Bizer’s two-year rugby experience also included the U19 Texas Union Rugby team.


“We knew we had a kicker, but we didn’t know if we had a rugby player,” Chivers said, and went on to describe an impressive 40 yard penalty kick Bizer made against the U19 West Select side.


After the final U20 USA selection camp in June, Bizer had made the final cut as a fullback. In fact, “over the course of these camps she got better,” Chivers said.


This junior eagle doesn’t just kick around a rugby ball either.


Spires head football coach, Lance Hinson, is confident in Bizer’s ability to compete at the colligate men’s level. She’s “probably better than at least one or two of [our current kickers] right now,” Hinson said, and also commented on the importance of giving Bizer the opportunity to compete.


Bizer was spotted by a team of coaches at a Houston senior showcase put on for high school senior football players who were not actively recruited earlier in the year. While Hinson hasn’t personally seen Bizer’s kicking talents a small amount of film and the word of his coaching staff motivated him to recruit her. 


Hinson saw that “to do what she is doing with rugby she must be a pretty good athlete.” Not only is Bizer the first female athlete on the University of Saint Mary’s football team, she is the first rugby player as well. The university is still developing its sports program and has not yet added a men or women’s rugby team.


While Hinson doesn’t foresee very many challenges for Bizer he does realize the difficulties she may face as a young woman on an all men’s football team. “She is going to bring more than what she realizes over the next four years,” he said.


But Bizer is no rookie to being singled out for her participation in football. A defining moment for her was during a football game after a kick off. The other team ran it back and she was the lone defender, the team’s last line of defense. “The ball carrier thought he had it in the bag,” she said, “but I totally lit him up right by his teams sideline.”


Bizer knows that some of her male opponents will underestimate her because of her sex, but it’s just another opportunity for her to prove herself as athlete.


“Rugby clearly fills the void in women’s sports,” Chivers said, it is a full contact sport for women. “Rugby is the perfect sport for her,” he said. 

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