Culture embodies MSU women’s rugby

The Minnesota State Women’s Rugby team is built on its camaraderie and closeness as a group. 

Vice President and team captain  Payton Hedderman credited the amount of time they spend together on a weekly basis for making the squad a close knit group. The Mavericks practice two or three days a week and have games or tournaments almost every weekend, with many of these games and tournaments requiring a long drive. 

“After games we also all hang out to celebrate how we played, or just to have fun together. Because of this, we end up spending four to five days together a week. We usually get pretty close. Next year we actually have four players from the team living together in one house, and another three players all living together in an apartment. Overall, we typically get an amazing group of people that get along really well,” Hedderman said. 

Although the team consists of a lot of young players, they don’t shy away from leadership roles. Something that makes this women’s team unique is that they get help from alumni when they need it. The current coach of the team is a player who graduated last year. 

“More specifically with the team dynamic, we have the older players as leaders on the team that help lead practices, or who are very good at talking to players one-on-one to help drills make sense,” Hedderman said. 

The most recent tournament the Mavs competed in was in Mankato April 15. Competing teams included Gustavus, Duluth, Carleton, Winona and Bemidji. MSU’s  team was responsible for making sure the lines were painted on the field and replacing pads on the goal posts. They also had to hope the unpredictable Minnesota weather cooperated. Along with the tournament going to plan, the Mavs emerged as winners. 

“Overall the tournament was a great success. We didn’t have very good weather, but all of the teams played great! Mankato had the privilege to get to play Winona State in the finals, and won. We as a team were very impressed and overly joyed with this win, and the great rugby that was played,” Hedderman said. 

The accepting nature and embracing of different people is something that makes rugby unique to Hedderman. 

“I have loved the diverse and accepting community that Rugby is. People on our team now, and people I have met that played Rugby, are very kind and helpful people. The last couple weekends we had a person that played in 2002-2006 just show up at our games and was super supportive, they even brought water on the field and oxygen cans to us during the game,” Hedderman said. 

Hedderman says being around women who have different bodies and who embrace who they are has helped her with her own insecurities. 

“Once I joined the team I was around these beautifully strong women. Women who looked different than me, but loved and owned it. I have always been around people who thought skinnier was better, even if it wasn’t healthy. But now, I was able to see that my body was strong and that no matter the size I was, I was a strong healthy human,” Hedderman said. 

As the spring season winds down, the goals of the team going into the fall season include, becoming eligible to play in the national tournament and get a top 16 or higher ranking in the nation. 

“Even if we don’t get enough to play at nationals, I would just love to get some new players and help our team grow their skills and just have fun,” Hedderman said.

Header Photo: While being a relatively young group, Minnesota State’s women’s rugby team is focused on building a great culture from the ground up. (Courtesy Mankato Women’s Rugby)

Write to Mohamed Warsame at

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