Tess Feury: Rugby Brings One Family Together
Tess Feury will compete in the 2015 Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship as a part of Penn State, the defending Women’s Collegiate champion. An accomplished athlete, Feury won the CRC’s High School Challenge in 2014.
Philadelphia, Penn. — April 22, 2015 —Tess Feury will be making her first undergraduate appearance at the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championships (CRC) as a member of Pennsylvania State University’s (Penn State) women’s rugby team this year; last year she won the CRC’s girl’s high school division as a member of the New Jersey Blaze High School Girls 7s. Although only a first year college student, her roots in the sport go back to her family and childhood.
Tom Feury, her father, was first introduced to the sport when he joined Rutgers University’s men’s rugby club as an undergraduate. His experience made him wish he’d learned rugby starting at a much earlier age. Therefore after his three children were born, he decided to create opportunities for local youth to play touch rugby in northern New Jersey. In 1999 Tom put together the area’s American Flag Rugby program, allowing his seven and nine year old sons to start playing on a team, and his four-year-old daughter to join them a year later.
Today the program has over 1,000 girls and boys participating from the ages of 4 to 14. It’s had a lot of success like Tess’ older brother Blaze who graduated from Penn State last year as a rugby player, while her other brother Jake is currently in his junior year playing for Middlebury College.
“I was really lucky that I got to be involved with rugby when I was young because so many people don’t get to start playing until they’re older,” said Tess. “It’s definitely a family thing and rugby has made my family so much closer. I can’t even imagine our lives without it because its really changed all our lives for the better. Its brought us closer as a family and gave us something to have in common and talk about.”
As a high school student Tess attended Villa Walsh Academy in Morristown, NJ where she ran track and played soccer. Additionally she played rugby for the local girls youth team, where her mother would assist with the team’s athletic training, as she is a nurse practitioner professionally. A superstar athlete Tess excelled in athletics during high school, but came to a crossroads where she had to make a difficult decision whether to continue competitively with soccer or rugby. Ultimately she decided that rugby would be unique and have more opportunities for her, due to the sports lack of development in the United States, in comparison to soccer.
In her junior year Tess went to her first USA Rugby’s High School All-American Stars and Stripes Camp and became a member of the Girls High School All-American rugby team. Since then Tess has made a dedicated effort to attend national team camps to get her name known in the competitive rugby scene. Her home team won the first ever High School Girls NJ State Championship in 2013, and took home the gold once again the following year. These two wins granted them a bid to their first ever High School Girls Rugby National 15s Championship in 2014; her team placed second in the Division II category.
The team’s success brought Tess to the CRC’s high school event in her senior year. Before her team played the final match in PPL Park, Penn State was coming off the field having just won the women’s collegiate championship. The event was foreshadowing for Tess who would end up attending the university the following year.
“It was really cool to get to play in the stadium and it was definitely one of the few games I won’t forget because I had never played in front of a crowd that big. I just kept thinking when I was in the stadium and on the field, ‘Hopefully I’ll be here next year- I don’t know what college I’ll be playing for,’” recalls Tess who had actually watched her brother Blaze play in the Penn Mutual CRC the last two years for Penn State.
Going forward from her high school success, Tess spent the summer participating in the Youth Olympics before attending Penn State. She was chosen as the Captain of the girl’s USA team and spent a month playing 7s in China. Now at 19-years-old Tess began attending Penn State this past fall and is pursuing a degree in nursing.
Penn State women’s rugby team’s Captain, Elizabeth Cairns, said that Feury’s, “Kindness is contagious, and her knowledge of the game is inspiring to the players around her. She is probably the most humble person I’ve ever played with, and isboth approachable and admired by both younger and older players…Tess is truly deserving, and an unreal rugby player.”
This past fall Penn State became USA Rugby’s Women’s Division I Collegiate Fall Champion and Tess was given the Most Valuable Player award at the tournament- an honor that caught her completely off guard.
“Clearly rugby is a growing and up and coming sport. So you just have to have the passion to push through the obstacles to keep playing because it’s not always going to be easy. There’s not always going to be a team available to play or the competition is not always going to be the best because it’s still a developing sport. So you really have to have the passion for it,” said Feury.
In terms of Tess’ future she is thinking about becoming a nursing or going to graduate school, as well as becoming a rugby coach. This coming summer she is starting a New Jersey Blaze College Girls 7s team to play with and work towards making the U20 National Team.
Her accolades so far:
- NJ Blaze Girls U19 Team Captain (2012-2014)
- USA Rugby WJAA Camp (2013)
- NJ State Championship MVP (2013)
- Morris Rugby Club Girls U19 Team Captain (2013-2014)
- Girls High School All American Stars v Stripes Captain (2013, 2014)
- USA Women’s 7s Olympic Pathway Camps (2013, 2014)
- National High School Girls 7s Championship (CRCs) MVP 2014
- USA Youth Olympic 7s Team Captain (2014)
- USA Rugby Women’s Collegiate Fall National Championship MVP (2014)
- USA Rugby Girls High School Player of the Year (2014)
- Penn State Women’s Rugby Freshman (2014-2015)
- Girls High School Las Vegas Invitational 7s Tournament MVP (2015)