Steamboat’s women’s rugby team celebrates a decade

Members of the Steamboat Springs women's rugby club huddle in 2017 at the Ski Town Fields prior to Saturday's Cow Pie Classic. The team celebrates 10 years this summer.
Austin Colbert/Steamboat Pilot & Today archive

The Steamboat Springs Women’s Rugby team is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this summer. The team started up in 2012 behind a passion for the sport and a desire to create a new social outlet for the women of Steamboat Springs. 

Sarah Tiedeken, the team president, has devoted 10 years of her time in Steamboat to the sport she loves and the team she created. She has been responsible for maintaining the continuity of the group over the last decade and ensuring an open and approachable environment for all women involved.  

“This sport is something that is impossible to give up in terms of how it makes you feel and the relationships you form,” Tiedeken said. “It’s just something I love so much, and my entire life in Steamboat would be a whole different experience had I not started the team and met this group.”

The team is proud to have become the first Ski Town women’s rugby team in the state of Colorado. They play union style rugby and compete in mountain league tournaments across the Western Slope and in other states including Wyoming and Montana. 

Steamboat Springs even hosts a tournament of its own called the Cowpie Classic which is held every summer during the second weekend of July. The Cowpie Classic is what contributed to the nickname of the women’s rugby team, the Charging Heifers. 

A heifer is a young female cow and since Steamboat has such a rich Western heritage, and being a cow town, the name fit perfectly. They pride themselves in their connection to the community and embrace the Heifer name by wearing cow print uniforms at their tournaments. 

Some players, like Lizzy Konen, have been with the team since the very beginning and know exactly what it means to carry the Charging Heifers name.

“We’re a strong herd. We stick together. We play hard on and off the field, like a pack of heifers. We take care of eachother,” Konen said.

The 48th annual Cowpie Classic will take place on July 9 at Ski Town Fields. It is a great opportunity for anyone interested to watch the team, meet the girls and orient themselves with the sport. 

Chereen Leong Schwarz passes to Frankie Warden during rugby practice on Tuesday, June 28, 2022 at Whistler Park.
Tom Skulski/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The Heifers operate under the tagline, “no experience necessary” and they encourage any woman with the slightest interest to contact them through their Facebook page or the team website or by simply showing up to one of their tournaments. 

Shay Villeneuve, a four-year veteran of the team, believes that rugby is one of the most approachable sports for beginners. 

“You’ll never find a better sport,” Villeneuve said. “There’s a sport for everybody no matter shape or size. It comes off so intimidating, but it’s the exact opposite. I’ve played every sport in the book and nothing has been more welcoming than rugby.”

As the somewhat well-known saying goes, “rugby is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen.” There is a respect amongst competitors like no other despite the sheer physicality that comes along with it.

Tiedeken stresses how the competitive nature of the sport mixes well with the social aspect and creates a camaraderie that cannot be found in other places. It is a sisterhood that has been built over a decade and continues to grow today. 

“I’m super stoked that we made it to our 10-year anniversary,” Tiedeken said. “Our goals moving forward are to introduce more people to the sport and keep recruiting and ultimately pull up that new generation of the Heifers to carry the torch.”

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