Speaks with KERRI MORGAN

Meet Kerri Morgan a quad rugby player, and one of few women competing for a spot on the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Rugby Team.  The sport is called many names, including wheelchair rugby, quad rugby or Murderball (see this documentary).  Played indoors on a hardwood court, there are elements of wheelchair basketball, ice hockey and handball, with physical and often brutal, contact between wheelchairs and competitors.  Kerri had just been selected to participate in the USA Quad Rugby Development Squad when we caught up with her.

USWRFI understand you were just selected to the USA Quad Rugby Developmental Squad – what does that entail?
KM: Yes, there were 14 slots and I was selected for one of them. I was the only female to try-out.  The idea of the development team is to provide more coaching and training to athletes that have potential to make it to the next level.  We have mandatory training camps held in Birmingham Alabama and will have competitions with other countries.  Three of us on the development team have received an invitation to try-out for the US 2008 Beijing Paralympics Squad on December 13, 2007.    In the 2008 Paralympics Games, the team must be coed if there are 12 team members carried, however, coed meaning they only have to carry one woman.  They can decide to only carry 11 members and in this case, they may all be men.

USWRF I would imagine the competition is quite tough.
KM:  Well yes and no.  Not many women are involved in Quad Rugby so you are not competing against the same amount of women as men competing against men; however, there is only one spot on the Beijing squad for a woman.  In order to be selected for that spot that person ahs to be able to meet all the same standards as the men, which are extremely completive.

USWRF: When did you get involved in Quad Rugby?
KM: Around 5 years ago I joined my local club, the St. Louis Rugby Rams.  The team is fun and also recreational. As I continued to play I realized I wanted to learn more and so I started driving to TN to play with a more competitive team and attended clinics on the specifics of training for the sport.  Even though I grew up with a disability, I come from a very athletic family so I needed a competitive outlet to stay active and healthy and I have found this outlet in rugby.

USWRF: What does your training consist of now?
KM: I get up around 5:30am and fitness train with my personal trainer from 6-8am.  I go to work at Washington University where I am an Instructor for the Program in Occupational Therapy as well as the Research Lab Manager for the Social Participation, Environment and Assistive Technology Research Laboratory. I’m there till 5, unless I can sneak away earlier…  Then I train with teammates from 6-9, go home, eat, sleep and get up the next morning. This is the routine most days.

USWRF: Since you are on the USA Developmental Squad are you now funded? 
KM: No, we still pay to get to a venue plus a player fee for facilities – men and women. That won’t happen until I can make the squad going to Beijing, although I have been fortunate to receive some donations from organizations.

USWRFHow do you manage work and time away?  We find in women’s’ rugby the hardest part of participating at the international level is time off from your job – often without pay.  Some players have actually quit their jobs to go to a World Cup!  I am surprised there is not more support for these athletes.
KM: I have a very supportive work environment that is willing to work with me if I should make the team.  It will take some creative management but going to Beijing could be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

USWRF: We wish you luck and great training, Kerri!
KM: Thank you and thank you for your support.

Join us in supporting Kerri Morgan. Visit the St. Louis Wheelchair Association at www.slwaa.org. You can send checks through this site earmarked with Kerri’s name. The US Women’s Rugby Foundation has recently contributed $500.00 in support of her.