As the Furies 7s Squad prepares to compete at the 2014 7s National Championships this weekend, their captain, Jess Shipley, reflects on her last 5 years with the club.
One of the very best things about being a rugger is that when you move to a new place (or even just visit for a few weeks!) if there’s a team, there’s a welcoming community waiting for you. The Furies take this trait to a whole other level of awesome. As many of my teammates can tell you, for the first few – maybe many? – months after my arrival in DC (in steamy sweaty August, from glorious beautiful California) I was not exactly a peach to be around. DC just didn’t feel like a good fit from day 1. But my teammates were determined that I would like it.
One Saturday in my first fall after a rough match in our first season as part of the Women’s Premier League, I went home and was feeling particularly mopey. I knew the girls were all hanging out together that night but I couldn’t bring myself to show up. I got all tucked into bed and was just about to fall asleep when I heard banging on my front door and the not-so-faint demanding yell of one of our props… “Shipleyyyyyyyyyy!” I tried to ignore them but it was clear they were not planning to leave my porch without me. 6 or 7 furies including my sleepy-eyed self piled into their car and off we went to the social. I learned later this was called “Operation Get Shipley” – I told you they were determined.
As I loosened up and began to feel more comfortable, DC started to become a place I liked and actually felt at home in. I began to feel more confident with my game, and the team challenged me to push my limits. Over the course of my time with the Furies I have become a much, much better rugby player than I was beforehand. This has afforded me many amazing rugby experiences, including captaining our 7s team through a couple of successful summers, playing select side for the mid-Atlantic, and being selected for the Saracens first team while I was living in London for a short time. I owe a debt of gratitude to my teammates and all of the great coaches we’ve had over the years for helping me become the player I am – so thank you, if you’re reading this!
And while my teammates and coaches are great at rugby, I think one of my very favorite things about the Furies is the type of people they are outside of their rugby lives. The idealist in me loves the fact that everyone on the Furies has something to offer the world, and they’re doing their damndest to offer it. We’re lawyers fighting for the little guy, coaches, teachers, policy wonks, trainers, social justice advocates, environmentalists, you name it. That work ethic is infectious and it was inspiring to be a part of.
This of course translates to rugby, and and every Fury strives to be their best on the pitch. As a team, that’s our culture. We have setbacks and challenges (what team doesn’t?) but we keep going and keep improving. And that’s why I am so excited that my last outing with the Furies, almost five years to the day from when I stepped off the plane at DCA, will be this weekend at the USA Rugby 7s club championships in Seattle. We face an unpredictable and challenging pool, among ever-improving nationwide competition in the Sevens game. But such occasions are what Furies fighting spirit is made for, and for one last time I feel incredibly fortunate to get to experience it. PTBAF.
Jessica Shipley has played for the DC Furies for 5 years beginning in 2009. During her time with the team, Jess has captained the 7s side through multiple seasons and was selected for the MARFU 7s Select Side. Jess has recently relocated to Portland, Oregon for her career. Her skill and tenacity, but most importantly her leadership and love for the game, will be missed and cherished by the Furies WRFC.