Students Stories: Ag student leads national champ rugby team

Lauren Rusert has always been an athlete, but after years of softball, soccer, cross-country running and even men's wrestling, she decided to try something new. Now a senior majoring in Agricultural and Extension Education, Rusert showed up for Penn State women's rugby Rookie Day during the fall of her freshman year to check out the team.

Little did she know that three years later during her junior year she would be named an All-American athlete on a national championship team that would take her to England, Wales, France and Spain over the course of her undergraduate career.

"At first when I saw my name on the list of All-Americans, I was in shock. I couldn't believe it, it seemed surreal," she said.

Last August, Rusert wrote a list of goals, one of which was to become an All-American. "To actually accomplish that goal felt really great."

The Penn State women's rugby team has played in nine national championship games since 2000 and won four of them. Rusert contributed to the 2007 and 2009 national titles. "I feel really privileged and honored to be on such a great team, which helped me get the status of an All-American and made it possible to go to the national championship several times," she said.

Penn State was a long haul from Rusert's hometown of Windsor, Calif. "I chose Penn State because it is a very well-rounded school," she explained.

After a friend from high school came to Penn State, majored in Animal Sciences and sang the University’s praises, Rusert was hooked. "I started in Animal Sciences as well, and I wanted to be away from home at least for my undergrad years so I could experience a different lifestyle. Penn State was a great fit."

After college rugby, Rusert is not sure if she'll continue playing, but she plans to stay involved with the sport. In the meantime, she has found a new passion off the field working in a honeybee lab on campus and is considering pursuing a graduate program centered on honeybee research.

"The College of Ag Sciences is the most close-knit college at Penn State, everyone is so friendly and it is easy to get to know people, plus there are a lot of ways to get involved, " she said.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010