Meet the Athlete: Lauren Barber

Meet the athlete

Lauren Barber

By Mae Jacobson, Associate Editor

Lauren Barber’s path to the rugby pitch was a bit unconventional. At first, she didn’t want to play. When a high school basketball teammate asked her, Lauren said she would but only if her mom said yes. “I was fully expecting an ‘absolutely not’ from her,” Lauren recalls. Fifteen years later, Lauren is still playing and coaching rugby. She was twice named most valuable high school player in Indiana, played for the Indiana High School All-Star team, and graduated from Penn State University, where she helped the Nittany Lions win four consecutive Division I 15s national championship titles from 2012–2015.

Lauren joined the WAC in 2018 and plays 15s for the Seattle Rugby Club and 7s for the WAC women’s team. “The WAC really cares about our success and ensures that we are well taken care of,” she says. “I’m proud to put on the WAC wings jersey every weekend.” Lauren also works as the recruitment director for the Seattle Rugby Club and coaches for a number of youth programs, including the Washington State Loggers and the Seattle Seawolves’ Run With the Pack pregame program.

We caught up with Lauren to talk about playing in college and overseas, how she uses the WAC, and her dream of coaching an elite team.

Q. Tell us about your college career.
A. I was recruited by Penn State to play rugby. They were my top choice because they have one of the best women’s programs in the country. During my time there, I competed alongside and against high-level players and learned from elite coaches. That helped me progress further into the USA Rugby player pool. I also had the opportunity to play abroad.

Q. What was your experience playing international rugby?
A. Penn State women’s rugby has an amazing program where they travel overseas every spring break. That gave me the opportunity to play against teams in France, Spain, Italy, Ireland, and Wales, including teams that had national team players who represented their country on an international level. Sometimes I played with the opposing team and was the only English-speaker on the squad. That really tested my skills. Rugby is a truly universal game.

Q. How did you get into coaching?
A. I became more interested in coaching after graduating college. I got an internship that brought me to Seattle, which is where my coaching career has taken off. I’ve worked with youth and high school players for about six years now. I’m passionate about welcoming people into our game and developing players to meet their potential. Currently, I’m the head coach for the Washington Loggers, which is a USA Rugby National Development Program. I also serve as the Recruitment Director for the Seattle Rugby Club, where I help new players join us; the vice chair of Rugby Washington; and as a scout for the USA Rugby U18 girls team.

Q. What’s your favorite part about rugby?
A. The culture. Rugby has a place for everyone, on and off the field. It’s empowering to be your authentic self and have people cheering you on because of exactly who you are. As a coach, I love motivating young people and seeing them reach their potential. It’s an honor to play a role in their achievements. As a player, I love the creativity involved in the game. You have to adapt, think outside of the box, work together, and communicate effectively to reach your goal. These are skills I’ve used in every aspect of my life to become a better version of myself.

Q. How has the WAC helped you succeed?
A. I currently use the Club mainly as a weight facility. I helped the Athletics Department develop the women’s weight-lifting studio a few years ago. That was a massive win for me and the rugby women. Being able to have a space where we can throw some big weights around has truly helped us succeed on the field. Big thanks to the WAC for making that happen!

Q. What does your future hold?
A. I am going to continue my playing career for as long as possible while expanding on my coaching. Being able to play rugby at a more elite or even professional level would be amazing. My long-term goal in rugby is to be a full-time head coach for an elite team year-round.

As published in the July/August 2021 issue of WAC Magazine.

–Posted June 24, 2021

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