Lauryn Nazareno ’23 Recruited for Philippines’ National Rugby Team

by Sabrina Hamor ’22, Student Writer and Annaliese Martinez ’21, Staff Writer | May 3, 2022

During the pandemic, third-year Kinesiology major Lauryn Nazareno picked up rugby as a casual way of exercising and being active. Turns out, this new hobby revealed a real talent emerging from Nazareno. Just a year after picking up rugby, Nazareno was recruited to play for the Philippines' National Rugby Team. 

“Growing up, I never saw any Filipino woman playing sports or being good at it,” said Nazareno, who ran for Saint Mary’s Track and Field team her first year at Saint Mary’s. “It's really interesting, and it'll be exciting for not only myself, but my teammates—we all share the same heritage…. It’s an honor to play.”

In November of 2021, Nazareno joined the Philippine Volcanoes National Rugby Team for her first tournament in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. “It’s exciting because I have to bring gear from Saint Mary’s to exchange with other players, and I’ll be getting gear from other players. So, it’s cool to be able to put Saint Mary’s on the map in other countries,” shared Nazareno. 

Nazareno’s success is thanks to her coach Win Shortland, who recognized her talent and had connections to get her in touch with the right people. “It’s just all based on word of mouth at this point, so I’m extremely blessed because they’ve never seen me play, but everyone was putting in a good enough word for me to get past that level.”

For Nazareno, having the opportunity to play for the Philippines’ national team goes beyond her love of the sport. “My Filipino heritage means almost everything to me. I’m only half [Filipino], but my roots are so strong over there because my grandma was an immigrant, and her story of coming here was really hard. I appreciate everything she did for the family to be here, and the same with my dad. He never really got the opportunity in sports like I did, so that’s why I just try every opportunity I get.”

“I hope moving forward, I can make the right connections and figure out how I can put more Filipino athletes on the map, especially collegiate wise, and then hopefully at a professional level.”

Looking forward, Nazareno hopes that playing for the Philippines’ National Rugby Team will help her fulfill her dream of opening a school in the Philippines to help Filipino students become college athletes. “On a personal level, my whole goal of playing sports is always to inspire people. I hope that I can inspire other people to continue playing or to start playing because, coming into the sport, I really thought that I was too late, but rugby really showed me that you're never too late. And it’s really so accepting [of different] body shapes and sizes and speeds and talents. There’s really a place for everyone on the field.”