BOULDER, Colo. — The standard story, it is not. However, now with ETCs serving as a selection vehicle for the Women’s Eagles, Carmen Farmer’s tale may soon become a more common one.
In less than a year’s time, a former collegiate softball player looking for another way to stay in shape now stands at the gates of both the 7s and 15s Women’s Eagles programs.
Carmen was introduced to the game by a friend that had spent time in Australia, and with looking for another way to stay in shape, the Virginia Tech grad soon found herself on the field with Severn River, playing wing.
“In February of last year, I [looked up] the closest team, which ended up being the Severn River RFC in Annapolis, Maryland and showed up for winter workouts,” said Farmer, whom currently practices law at a land conservancy firm in Baltimore.
Despite falling 8-0 in a nail-biting contest at the Division II championship game in November, Farmer didn’t see her young rugby career halted there. After talking to 15s head coach Pete Steinberg, Farmer was on her way to Pennsylvania for the opening ETC camp in State College.
“Pete [Steinberg] approached me at the USA Rugby Women’s Club Championships in Fort Meyers, in November, and asked if I was interested in learning more about the National Team,” recalled Farmer of her experience after stepping off the field in November. “So I followed up with an application for the [ETC] camp.
A tryout of sorts for new athletes, the opening ETC camp served as a measuring point for all participants, including capped players, through fitness testing and rugby skills.
At the first ETC camp, it didn’t take long for the lawyer from Maryland to catch the attention of the Women’s Eagles coaching staff. The little experience playing rugby was of no matter as Farmer quickly found her athleticism standing out among the rest, earning her an invitation to the Olympic Training Center, in Chula Vista, Calif.
“It was an amazing introduction to the National Team and the infrastructure that has been put in place to assist athletes in their development and progress,” said Carmen after her initial experience at the elite-level camp.
Breezing by competition in fitness drills at the ETC, the top-level numbers Farmer registered certainly caught the attention of head sevens coach, Ric Suggit, whom quickly realized that Farmer’s talent could be utilized for his program. After just one camp, the former high school volleyball player packed her bags for the west coast to help the Women’s Eagles prepare for the Hong Kong 7s tournament.
“She has the ideal physique for a sevens prop and with the scores that she is turning in, she has a lot of potential,” said Steinberg.
After participating in the OTC camp, Farmer headed back east, where she immediately traveled to State College to participate in the March ETC camp. Only more opportunity and excitement would follow her there.
With such a noteworthy performance in Chula Vista, the former shortstop received word that she would be included in the Rugby World Cup Sevens player pool.
“Her focus and determination to be the best rugby player she can be is what has earned her these opportunities,” said Steinberg, after hearing the news of Carmen’s invitation.
Despite starting at wing for her home club, Steinberg foresees Farmer exceling as a lock on the 15s field.
Realizing her potential of joining both the Women’s Eagles in sevens and 15s, an onslaught of questions posed to the coaching staff filled the time at the end of the second ETC camp.
Steinberg alluded to potential conflicts that she might have, fitness-wise, but still imagines she will be a strong contributor to the Women’s Eagles program despite the difficulties.
“The challenge for her is that she is suited for sevens at this point, in that her speed is great and the endurance is there, but she needs to have a bit more size in order to be a successful lock in international 15s,” said Steinberg.
Farmer received more invitations following the conclusion of the ETC camps. She has since been invited back to the sevens camp, helping the group prepare for its tournaments in London and Amsterdam, as well as a spot in the 15s program Top 60 Camp.
With another high-level performance, at the up-coming camps, Carmen could see herself donning the USA Rugby crest as early as this summer. The potential is certainly there for a former collegiate softball player to become an international rugby athlete in just a year’s time.
“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, going from just picking up a rugby ball for the first time twelve months ago, to attending an ETC [camp],” Farmer remarked. “Being such a nuanced game, I have so much to learn and, at this point, am literally taking it day-by-day, setting small goal after small goal.”
Despite, it being a unique story at the time, with the benefit of ETC camps, Carmen Farmer may find herself in good company, paving the way for more athletes to join the Women’s Eagles.
Perhaps in a year’s time she will be the seasoned, capped veteran helping a former collegiate basketball player through her first ETC camp.