Greene Cherished Her Chance to Play Rugby
As she waited her entire life to play the sport, Sofia Greene didn’t waste much time making a name for herself during her first year of competition with the Shoreline Spartans girls’ rugby program. Sofia served as a team captain as she played the flyhalf position for the Spartans this spring. Sofia proved an integral part of her team’s success on the field and also made an important contribution off the field by setting up her own charity to help people in need.
Sofia, who is entering her senior year at Guilford High School, was raised in a rugby family. Her father Jonathon grew up playing the sport, and Sofia remembers throwing the ball around and attending games with him. However, Sofia wasn’t able to compete for the boys’ teams as a youngster, so she never had an opportunity to play.
That’s where the Shoreline Spartans came in. The Spartans introduced their high-school aged girls’ rugby team this year and recently completed their first season of competition. Sofia now had her opportunity to play rugby, and there was no way she was going to pass it up.
“I’ve always looked up to it, and I always wanted to play. When my dad told me there was a girls’ team, I was very excited,” says Sofia. “Now, this team is like a family for me.”
There were only four players at the Spartans’ first practice, but more people started showing up as time went by. Now, the Spartans are up to 12 players and still growing. Sofia enjoyed bonding with her teammates as they played rugby together and was pleased to see how everyone grew into a family by the end of the season.
Still, Sofia felt nervous to take the field for her first game. While she had always dreamed of playing rugby, Sofia had never actually competed for a team. However, once the first whistle blew, Sofia’s worries dissipated and she felt invigorated on the field. After catching the rugby bug, Sofia wants to continue with the sport and potentially compete for the U.S. national rugby team, known as the Eagles, one day.
“My first game was crazy. I was just excited to play. I was extremely nervous, to the point where I was shaking. Once the game started, I had a blast,” Sofia says. “I want to play rugby in college. I want to make it my life, play for the Eagles, and just continue playing rugby.”
On the field, Sofia functions as the Spartans’ starting flyhalf. In that role, she is tasked with setting the defense while also leading the offense from the back line. Sofia’s efforts as a flyhalf helped the Shoreline Spartans earn a third-place finish at the New Haven 7s Tournament. In the team’s first year of competition, Sofia felt excited to compete in the tournament and succeed alongside her teammates.
When the Spartans’ season came to a close, Sofia earned the Playmaker Award on behalf of the team. In addition to making an impact on the field, Sofia was also a vocal leader for the Spartans while serving as a co-captain with Layla Dunn. It was a lot of responsibility for Sofia, but she felt honored to serve as a role model for Spartans while leading the squad as a captain.
“At first, I was nervous I was going to let everyone down. It was my first year, and there were girls that had been playing longer. But with the help of my coaches and the help of Layla, we got a hold of it,” says Sofia. “It’s pretty fun knowing that people look up to me. I’m so happy to lead the team and know that I’m their friend and we’re here to win.”
Being a strong leader wasn’t Sofia’s only concern heading into the season. As smaller player in her first year of rugby, Sofia felt worried that she wouldn’t be able to hang with the bigger and more experienced athletes. However, by her final game of the year, Sofia’s mindset had completely changed as her time on the rugby field had made both her a stronger player and a stronger person.
“I’m like 5-3 and weigh 100 pounds. The girls were so much bigger than me. I thought I was going to get extremely hurt. I didn’t think I would be as good as them,” Sofia says. “By the end of the season, I’ve gained so much confidence in myself on and off the field. I know if I put my mind to it, I can do it.”
Joe Falivene is a both coach and a board member with the Shoreline Spartans. Falivene says that Sofia fit right with the Spartans during her first season and demonstrated that she has tremendous potential as a rugby player.
“Sofia is a great leader on and off the field,” says Falivene. “On the field, the flyhalf is responsible for setting the defense, as well as calling and executing the offensive plays on the back line. Off the field, Sofia coordinated donations of slightly used shoes and donated them to people in need. We look forward to her continued success both on and off the rugby field.”
Earlier this year, Sofia founded her Lace It Up charity. She had previously organized a shoe drive as a student at Our Lady of Mercy and felt that this charity would be a great way to give back. At the New Haven 7s Tournament, Sofia coordinated with opposing team’s coaches and captains in an effort to acquire used shoes. Thus far, Sofia’s charity has been able to fill up three-and-a-half boxes of shoes with more to come.
Once the shoes are collected, Sofia donates them to the Branford Community Dining Room. Going forward, she is hoping to expand the charity from Guilford to Clinton to Madison and beyond. Sofia understands the importance of shoes in any situation. Sofia is hoping that Lace It Up will allow the community to come together and donate an essential clothing item to someone who needs it.
“Shoes are extremely important. It doesn’t matter if you need them for a job interview, walking around the streets, or if you want to play a sport,” Sofia says. “They can be extremely expensive. I figured it’s something a good amount of people have, and there’s a good amount of shoes that just go to waste. Why not take those and give them to somebody who can use them?”
It only took one season for Sofia to fall in love with rugby. Now, she wants to continue playing the sport for as long as possible. Sofia finally got a chance to call herself a rugby player this year, and she will forever feel grateful that the Shoreline Spartans gave her that opportunity.
“It’s something I’m extremely proud of. It’s a part of who I am, and I want to continue to make that who I am,” says Sofia. “I want to grow my family. I want them to know what rugby is and, if they’re interested, I want them to play it. It’s always something I’m going to talk about. It’s always going to be a huge part of my life, even if I’ve only been doing it for a year so far.”