Joanna Kitlinski brings more than attitude and hard work to the rugby field. Her game, along with her off-the-field leadership has earned Kitlinski a spot, along with 21 other collegiate rugby players, on the All-America first team.
Kitlinski said she was surprised when she got the news of being named to the All-America first team. The first team is nearly always made up of women from NCAA Division I universities, but Grand Valley’s club sport rugby program plays Division I opponents.
Kitlinski said that she had played powder puff football in high school, which fueled her intentions to play contact sports. She said: “I always knew I would be good at contact sports, and with rugby you can start anytime. The sport of rugby is easier to start later because there are not many high school teams.”
Bob Richthammer, Grand Valley women’s rugby coach, said her strong work ethic lifted Kitlinski to All-American status. Kitlinski added that the two things that helped her become one of the top players in the country are leadership (she is the captain for Grand Valley this year) and hard work (she has only missed four practices in four years).
Along with the accolades of being named the All-America team, she also was asked to play in the Midwest College All Star Game in June. Following that game, Kitlinski was invited to play for a Midwest sevens club team.
Kitlinski said that the future outlook for Grand Valley rugby is very good, with nationals set in their sights, along with a solid base of 13 recruits. Although her athletic time at Grand Valley is coming to an end, the senior psychology major is considering going to graduate school at Grand Valley to pursue a degree in counseling. Her mentality on and off the field remains the same. “I think I am just relentless. I don’t give up,” she said.