The Blues haven't lost a game in 3 years. And scores like 40, 50 or 60 to nothing aren't unusual. Jim Kehrer and his wife coach the Blues. Jim says that the Blues are drilled – and drilled hard – in the basics of rugby. And that they're relentless in moving the ball.
Jim says, “And the other team, you’ll see them just crumble, they’ll keep the pace for a little bit but they get so frustrated that they’re not able to do anything. They never give them a chance to breathe, never give them a chance to get any space and they eventually just crack.”
They even beat a college rugby team from Saginaw Valley State University.
Jim says, “I felt bad for the girls, I really did. I mean, how demoralizing must that be for a college team.”
Rumor Has It
The Blues are such a force on the rugby field that rumors start over how the team pulls it off. Coach Kehrer says rumors have included the coaches keeping food logs and punishing girls who go 10 calories over their limit. And that the girls are forced to work-out 6 times every week.
Jim says, “… or that Brittany Noonan was on work release from prison. Oh, they got funny.”
The Traverse Bay Blues is a rugby club that goes back 30 years. It was just a men's team at first but has branched out over the decades. The girls' team was started in 2005. The team took its first state title in 2010.
Earlier this month, the Blues were scheduled to play two games against one of the top teams in the state, Grandville High School. But after the first game, Grandville bowed out. Their coach, Tara Gunther, didn't want to lose too many players to injuries.
Tara says, “It’s always the team every year that we’re, like, ‘Okay, this is our year to beat them,’ and we just keep pushing and pushing but they’re just pretty unstoppable.”
After the Grandville game, the Traverse Bay coaches were concerned about all the ankle and knee injuries on the Grandville team. So, they shared a strategy they picked up for a way of warming up and stretching.
Tara says, “Ever since they started doing it a few years back they haven’t had any of those injuries so we actually started to incorporate that into our practices after we played them.”
Rules of Engagment
The Blues coaches are strict – but they're strict about keeping the outlook upbeat and constructive.
Jim says, “No giggling, no laughing, no swear words, you know, no writing across your rear end on your sweats, um, you know, just these rules that everything, absolutely everything is positive.”
Bridget Bernhard is co-captain of the Traverse Bay Blues. She's has been on teams in which players have turned on each other when the going got rough.
Bridget says, “We just genuinely enjoy each other’s company. So, like, you know how girls are catty? We’re not really catty. And we don’t swear. We have lots of positive attitudes.”