Through the Looking Glass – 10 Years of Memories!

We’re celebrating 10 years of YSC this month and today we take a look back to the start. 

It’s March 31, 2006. We launched that day, a Friday, to no fanfare and almost no recognition (does my mom and roommate count!?). At that time, almost no one was reporting on women’s rugby and I aimed to change that. Three months later we had had 2,000 visitors and we were on our way!

Early in the launch of the blog, we aligned ourselves with some freaking awesome people. Let’s take a look back at some of their favorite memories:

YSC was and is an integral part of RA and our growth because they came to us when we were new, small and needed exposure.

The women’s game has been our most successful venture, and we can relate much of that to YSC.  Sponsoring women’s teams, partnering with women’s teams has been the best ROI for our business.  Not only are women loyal, they are true brand ambassadors like YSC.

Wendy has been nothing but awesome during the past 10 years, and I truly appreciate our continued partnership.

– Chris Babiash, Rugby Athletic

I can’t believe it’s been ten years of YSC! I have enormous respect for Wendy and Traci and everyone else who has helped YSC grow into the premier outlet for the women’s game in the US. I remember being so excited when I first heard that someone was focusing on representing the women’s game on the internet and it was a natural next step to reach out to Wendy when I was looking for partners to help publicize and cover the Women’s National Team programs. YSC jumped in and we had some great times with their live streaming coverage of some key WNT events – multiple years of the Women’s International Invitational in Vegas, the CanAm matches at Tigertown before the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup, the U20 Nations Cup in 2011, etc. YSC was also a key driver for the Women’s Premier League from its inception, covering matches with on-site reporters and providing up-to-the-minute results and scores.

On a shoestring budget and often spending their own dime as well, YSC has provided great coverage and badly needed exposure for women’s rugby at all levels and for that all of us in the women’s game will be eternally grateful. Wendy, here’s to another 10 years of growth and success, thank you for everything YSC has done and will do in the future!

-Alex Williams, SoCal Youth Rugby, Executive Director

The rugby pitch was filled with millions of male players, coaches, teams, and opinions! Wendy was the lone voice for women, almost trapped inside the 22m. Through her efforts, that ball was not only cleared to touch, but she’s driven downfield inside their 5m! Women’s rugby in the world has grown from 200,000 players, to 1.4 million! (that’s an actual stat from the IRB) Wendy was an integral part of that growth, as she reported scores, announced tourneys, helped find coaches, and interviewed key players in the women’s game.

Wendy’s rugby reporting has been a calm chord in the cacophony of male controlled media. She’s the first women’s rugby blogger, and those who followed her walk upon the pitch she first played on.

– Kevin Sullivan, Rucking Insurance

I remember sitting in box seats at night in Las Vegas hoping to webcast the only women’s game played in Sam Boyd Stadium. The rooms next to us were a’ buzz, packed floor to ceiling with electronics. NBC brought an army complete with 18 wheeler trailers of equipment. There was barely enough room for their top-notch sportscasters. They tucked in the corner trying to make sense of a game they clearly hadn’t seen too much of . I thought it was both brilliant and hilarious that they we’re being fed lines from ruggers via earpieces. Meanwhile we were in the next room with less than a half-dozen people a camera, laptop, and a bummed internet connection waiting to find out if NBC was going to record the women’s game. They technically bought the rights to the entire tournament. We couldn’t film the game without their blessing. These were the times before they separated the men’s and women’s tournaments into two different locations. Fortunately for us, but unfortunately for women’s sports, they weren’t interested in the women’s game. We popped our camera on, and streamed live one of the best matches of the weekend.

Not too long before the Vegas trip I remember getting a message from out of the blue. It was Wendy from YSC wanting to pick my brain about webcasting. I don’t know how she got my name. I can only imagine she had heard about my work at Penn State, and USA Rugby running both radio and the webcasting of games. The barrier to entry to webcast games was extremely low, but so few people pulled it off for unknown reasons. All you needed was a laptop, internet connection, and a camera. Online hosting applications were free, but alas I digress. I was very excited to learn that she wanted to expand the offerings of her website to include live video. I had been a fan of her site for a couple years including my time playing in college. I was very honored that she asked me for help. I was thrilled someone else was going to use the tech to make my favorite game more available.

After a couple of chat sessions, where I can only imagine I melted her brain a bit with technical jumbo, I think she gave up and figured it would be better to just bring me. I was excited not only to be able to go to a top-notch rugby event arguably for free, but to also be part of something cutting edge and beneficial for women’s sports. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve probably noticed that news, including sports news, is coming from sources that aren’t exclusively the big networks anymore. Although those networks have sportscasting down to an art with their rooms full of equipment and cameras pointing in every direction they miss stuff. Women’s rugby is a blind spot twice over. First for being a fringe American sport, and second for being a women’s sport, something people are just not used to watching yet. I ended up going on a couple of trips running the webcast for YSC including a Nations Cup, club championships, and of course, Las Vegas Sevens. My favorite memory webcasting occurred in Las Vegas. It was a missed opportunity that never made it to film.

During the international women’s tournament outside of Sam Boyd Stadium we had the infamous Phaidra Knight interviewing players in between games. I had to keep the equipment running while literally running around to find players for Phaidra to interview. I was able to find an English-speaking player on most of the foreign teams except for France. I don’t remember who came up with the idea, but we thought it would be cool if we found a Canadian player who spoke both languages to do the interview with a French player. I managed to find willing participants, but while they were waiting to get on camera the Canadian player got called away to warm up for her next match. I was so disappointed and felt terrible about possibly intruding on they’re playing. To this day I wonder how it would have went. Phaidra had questions prepared for those she was going to interview, but we were going to let this Canadian player ask whatever she would have liked. They had so much in common, yet a lot of differences playing at the international level in two notably different countries. I think it would have been insightful, hilarious, and still wonder about what could have been to this day.

I no longer webcast games, but I miss it. I miss working with Wendy and her crew. She has done amazing work and continues to do it. As a Penn State rugger it was ingrained into me to give back to the sport that gave me so much. I hope I did that with Wendy’s help. I know USA Rugby, Rugby Canada, and several colleges started using and expanding on my webcasting approach, so it is very possible I did. Thank you all for being great sports fans, and Wendy for giving me the opportunity to be part of it all.

– Nichole Lopes


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