The Emerald City Mudhens were hatched in September 1993 and wasted no time making their presence felt. By spring of the following year, Seattle's newest women's rugby club had wracked up first place finishes in the ORSU Tournament, Gobblerfest, March Madness and Fool's Fest, with a fourth place finish overall in the Pacific Coast Club Sides Championships. The Hens have continued this winning tradition throughout. Led by a roost of players with honors ranging from selections to the Pacific Northwest Loggers, the Pacific Coast Grizzlies and even the U.S. Eagles, the Mudhens snatched the Plate Division title in the 1998 National Championships. Yet previous successes only served to make the Hens hungry for more. Under the direction of player/coach Shelly Baker, and led by a talented cadre of athletes; including Hong Kong 7's and World Cup Eagle #8 Erina Queen, and Eagle trialists outside center Debra Dove, lock Laura Gonsalves, lock Tracy Boyd, and prop Gail Pitman, the Hens have currently maneuvered into the top four in the nation's club sides. As Baker explained, "Winning the plate last year was a great stepping stone for this club. From the very start of this season though we united around one goal. We didn't just want to get back to nationals, we wanted to go back for the cup."
In the later half of the '99 season the Hens have begun to gel, combining a reconfigured, hard hitting scrum with world-class speed in the back line. The playoffs began with a crucial territorial match against BASH (Bay Area She Hawks). In the club's six year history, the Hens had never beaten this Californian rival, a history that made the 34 to 5 victory that much sweeter. The win not only provided momentum to launch the Hens into the next round, but also secured coveted home field advantage for the Sweet 16 National Tournament in May 1999. The Mudhens then faced the undefeated Lady Ozarks of Arkansas. In a fast paced, hard hitting match the Hens once again proved victorious, trouncing the Ozarks 40 to 10. Chiropractic adjustments and ice baths immediately followed the final whistle as the Hens prepared to face the Minnesota Valkyries the next morning. In undoubtedly the toughest match of the weekend, the two evenly matched clubs battled fiercely.
Defense proved to be key in the low scoring, hard-fought, emotional contest. With Mudhen's fans screeching support from the sidelines, and players gasping for breath and begging fatigued muscles for one final effort, all exhaled in relief as the final whistle yielded the score: Mudhens 15 Valkyries 12.
For the first time in club history the Mudhens traveled to Chicago for Nationals in June 1999, and this time they were going after the cup. Though disappointing losses to undefeated Berkley and the Stingers from Maryland proved that it was not to be, the Mudhens nevertheless returned home celebrating a fourth place finish in the nation. As veteran forward Tracy Boyd explained, "We didn't finish off the season as well as we'd hoped. But hey, we're fourth - fourth in the nation. If nothing else we got here, we got the chance to compete with the best clubs in the country. There aren't too many teams that can boast of that."
The Mudhens continue to make strides with every season and encourage energetic, athletic women who want to play hard and have fun to be a part of it. As one rookie rugger described, "Rugby's like an addiction, you love it, you crave it, it gets in under your skin, in your blood and leaves you wanting more." Come out and play. The Fall Season has begun, for more information call the Mudhens hotline (206) 706-8057.
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