Cayman’s rugby prodigy Schmarrah McCarthy is officially one of the best women players in the United States university system after being selected for the Women’s Collegiate All-American second team.
The 20-year-old flanker is a civil engineering student at the University of Purdue in Indiana. A player for only four years, she has developed so well that she toured New Zealand with the United States Under-23 team in August.
Being an All-American is quite an honour considering there are 10,000 women playing college rugby and only a total of 67 players were selected by a committee for the two teams. Those chosen will receive a letter and a certificate from USA Rugby and their club sports directors will get the same.
Selection wasn’t an easy task as the standard is very high. Alan Osur is chair of the committee that made the decisions. He said: ‘The growth in collegiate rugby, its competitiveness and excellent quality of play continue to amaze us, thus making the committee’s decision process long and difficult.’
The Women’s All-American programme was started by the Collegiate Committee in 1995 and has grown significantly. From 167 collegiate teams 12 years ago there are now over 300.
An ecstatic McCarthy said: ‘I actually found out that I was selected as an All-American when a friend congratulated me. It was so unexpected that I really didn’t know how to take such an honour. More than anything it has shown me that if you give something your all and persevere; in the end you will receive your just reward. So far, I haven’t been contacted by the committee to play a game so I believe it is just an honorary award.’
McCarthy has made a big impression at Purdue. For the first time ever they have qualified for the Midwest Division 1 final four tournament in Iowa from 2-4 November.
She broke a bone in her hand in New Zealand and has fully recovered. ‘I resumed playing about a month ago. Even harder then having to wait on my hand to heal was the mental anxiety of playing again. Rugby is a game you have to play with a fearless spirit. The first two games I played in I was a little nervous about the possibility of dropping or getting stomped and possibly breaking or fracturing my hand again.
‘However, I soon realized that anything worth doing is worth doing well and that I would rather have a few great games than a season of mediocre ‘safe’ rugby. More than anything I had to prove myself that I could still lay a girl out when tackling. After I completely tackled a few girls I felt like my old self again.’
Her mother Alliyah said: ‘I’m very happy for Schmarrah. I think it’s a fantastic thing. She really enjoys the sport and gives it all she has. It’s not a feminine sport but I don’t think today that women are restricted to only feminine roles. I don’t think what she does defines so much as who she is.
‘She shows that women don’t necessarily have to fit into the box. I’m glad that she was born in an era that women have options with respect to their profession and the wide arena of sports available for them to play.’