Joanna Kitlinski

Photo by James Black

Joanna Kitlinski

It's been quite a journey for Joanna Kitlinski since she first picked up a rugby ball. From her first year as a rookie on Grand Valley's club sport team, Kitlinski's passion for the sport has increased proportionally with her talent and determination.

She now trains in Colorado with the Glendale Raptors women's rugby team and has an opportunity to play in the 2014 World Cup in France

Kitlinski graduated in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in psychology. She now lives in Colorado and works as a recruiting coordinator for one of the largest kidney care companies in the U.S.

In late July, Kitlinski was named as a non-traveling reserve team for the U.S. team that competed in the Nations Cup, a four-country tournament that serves as a precursor to the 2014 World Cup.

The World Cup team has not yet been chosen, but Kitlinski said moving to Colorado allows her to train with the country's best players and coaches. "I play hooker, which is a funny name, but our team has the No. 1 hooker in the country,” Kitlinski said. “For me, it’s an awesome experience to be learning from her.”

When she was in high school, Kitlinski was a member of the track and cross country teams. She joined Grand Valley’s rugby team, in part, to play a contact sport. “I liked the team aspect of it, and that you didn’t need to have previous experience,” she said.

Rugby coach Bob Richthammer recalled Kitlinski’s first practice. “She ran so fast when she got the ball, I think she ran over three people,” he said.

Kitlinski’s skills quickly grew and she was invited to play for the U.S. Under-20 and Under-23 teams.

“She began a wave of recruiting for our program as other players knew of Joanna and wanted an opportunity to play with her,” Richthammer said. “She’s a good ambassador for Grand Valley now, telling players about our program.”


Page last modified September 13, 2013