Dunn ’16 and Ramage ’19 picked for national team player pools

by Max Zhuang | 2/18/16 6:32pm

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Yeja Dunn ’16 played rugby for the first time her freshman year at Dartmouth.

For many student-athletes, representing their country would be a dream come true. For women’s rugby players Yeja Dunn ’16 and Kat Ramage ’19, competing in the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup for the women’s national team is only a few steps away. Dunn is one of 49 players in the 2016 Women’s Eagles national team player pool, while Ramage is one of 38 in the age-grade national team player pool.

“They both have the athleticism and attitude required of international players,” head coach Katie Dowty said. “Everyone can see what an impact these two make on the field, but the [women’s national team] also looks for players with the drive and work ethic to achieve their full potential — and Yeja and Kat have that in spades.”

While the two share rugby success, drive and work ethic, Dunn and Ramage come from completely different backgrounds. Dunn, a senior on the team, had never touched a rugby ball before arriving at Dartmouth but joined the club team during her freshman year.

“It’s really bizarre how I think I fell in love with the sport and got to where I am,” Dunn said. “I think I fell in love with the team itself before I fell in love with the sport and I just love hanging out and playing with them.”

Ramage, only a freshman, was one of Dartmouth’s very first recruits last year.

“Kat is very much a decision maker, by deciding where the ball goes, that’s her strength, and Yeja is more of the powerhouse who gets work done and can tackle just about anyone,” teammate Ashley Zepeda ’18 said.

Dunn’s placement in the player pool for the Eagles means she is on a short-list of players who may likely be called onto the national team following the results of an individual competition system.

“For me, the idea of being an Eagle is really cool. But for me I love playing, I love playing for Dartmouth,” Dunn said. “I love playing for the team. What matters more is the love of the sport.”

In Ramage’s case, she was placed in an age-grade pool which is a group of players who have a strong chance of becoming Eagles but are not currently old enough to qualify. Instead, they receive training to develop their talent. Ramage dreams of national rugby achievement, hoping to eventually tour and play as an Eagle in the Olympics and World Cup.

Despite Dunn and Ramage’s differences, the two complement each other on the Big Green’s women’s rugby team. Both players stand out during competition, and both note that Dowty contributes to much of their success. Dowty also coaches both the players for All-American events leading them through the pathways onto the national team. Dowty, herself, played for the USA Rugby national team from 2010 to 2014. She was a captain and player for the Harvard University women’s rugby team before graduating in 2006.

“I had the privilege of playing for the women’s national team,” Dowty said. “Now, I cherish the opportunity to help our Dartmouth players achieve that goal. Representing your country is every athlete’s dream and there really is nothing like it. I would be very proud to see Yeja and Kat carry on the legacy and represent Big Green rugby on the national stage.”

Dunn and Ramage are both looking to perform their best in their upcoming individual competitions. Together, they have helped build a strong women’s rugby culture.

“There’s a lot of ways to keep being able to play this but they can be very competitive,” Dunn said. “I hope I will keep getting to continue to play at a high level in this sport for a long time.”