Above: Nicole “2Tone” Caso practices her lineout moves. (Photo by Nadia Westenburg)
Saturday, March 28, 2015: Village Lions 94, Springfield 12
If you picture yourself in a some rugby-playing nations outside of the United States, telling any friend or family member that you won 94-12 will illicit the response, “What, were you playing the Blind School?” Truth be told, the Lions were the only team with a legally blind player on the pitch. Let us introduce you to Nicole Caso, known as “2Tone” to her teammates.
“They always made me feel welcome … so I couldn’t wait to start playing with them.” Recruited to the Lions by veteran player and now Fordham coach Renee Ovrut, the choice to continue playing after college was easy, as Caso knew many players even before joining the Lions.
“Hang on, didn’t you say ‘blind’?” Well, legally blind. Caso describes her barriers to playing rugby this way: “Well, given that I’ve only ever done gymnastics, you could say I was completely out of my comfort zone! I was more nervous about how I’d do with ball handling (hee hee) since I have albinism and am legally blind more than anything else. Once I found my niche — contact — and realized I can still be an asset on the field even if I had trouble seeing the ball, my nervousness turned to pure excitement and joy! I loved rugby!”
So why, if she is legally blind, would Caso start playing rugby in the first place?
“What I usually tell people is when I got to college, I wanted to try something new that I never heard of before and may not ever get the chance to try again,” Caso said. “The more honest reason is that I was told there would be free beer and parties with the men’s team. Sorry, I was ‘that girl.’ ” Legally blonde blind. 2Tone has now been playing for six years, teaches spin classes (fitness levels are not a problem), and plans to become a yoga therapist.
As for the game against Springfield, the Lions did dominate a weaker team, but in doing so, made improvements in their overall performance. Line speed in defense and tactical awareness were greatly improved. The opposition’s defensive structure and tackling were not the best, and were exploited again and again. Mallory Woods, with four tries to her name, got Woman of the Match, while Tricia Stanley and Emily Kunsman both got over the line twice. There were also tries for Alli Baer, Theresa Cassano, Meg Collins, Aislinn Smith, Erika Kocher, and Rosie Rough, who also got 17 points with the boot. A shoutout goes to Quin Works, who filled out numbers for Springfield in the second half, as they were traveling without subs.
So how did our fearless 2Tone do? Well, coming into the game in the second half for Stanley (who thought it was a good idea to charge down a kick with her nose), she hit rucks and made tackles, and when it looked like Springfield were getting back into the game, made a 20-yard break before getting hauled down, setting up the ball nicely for her team to continue into the try zone.
The term can be overused, but that is awesome!
Team (1-15): Quin Works, Alli Baer, Emily Kunsman, Theresa Cassano, Erin McGee, Mallory Woods, Tricia Stanley, Meg Collins, Megan O’Neil, Aislinn Smith (c), Erika Kocher, Margo Smith, Rosie Rough, Vicky Dushku, Megan Banford
Subs: Amanda Sesny (40 min. Works), G. Angela Corpus (53 min. Woods), Nicole Caso (62 min. Stanley), Lili Blumenberg (40 min. M. Smith), Emmarie Etheridge (60 min. Banford)