Lee University women’s rugby standout Candace Barley took the field to play with the U.S. U20 National Women’s Team in a game against Canada in January. Barley is a freshman Health Science major from Maryville, Tn. She has been playing rugby since she was in the 7th grade.
“I wasn’t a very athletic person growing up. One year my brother heard about rugby and after watching him, I became interested in playing,” said Ms. Barley. From then on, Ms. Barley has been playing rugby at an advanced level for her age and was named the Youth Player of the Year in 2007 for her performance on the USA U20s Development Team at the age of 16.
Ms. Barley was first scouted to play on a national level when her high school team was at the annual rugby tournament Nash Bash.
“At the tournament in 2005 the National U20 Women’s coach, Bryn Chivers, was scouting players for his team. He saw me play in one of the games and asked me to come to a camp that he was holding after the tournament, so I did. I then received an email inviting me to be on the National team and go with them to Boulder, Co. to play Canada.”
According to her mom, Cindy Barley, Candace holds the honor of being the youngest player to ever pull on a USA U20WNT jersey for her country. She was 14 years old at her selection and 15 years, 34 days at her first international match. She still holds that record.
When asked about the experience Candace said, “I was most excited about being able to play rugby with girls that knew what they were doing. It makes the game much more enjoyable when everyone knows what they need to do for the team on the field. It’s also exciting to be able to play for your country and against other countries and see the difference in the way they play compared to us.”
Now, Ms. Barley has settled into her spot on the field with Lee women’s rugby and loves the ability to play on a team where Christ is the priority. “I found it a relief to be able to be on a Christ-centered team, where our focus is on pleasing God while we compete. I believe that it is a great witnessing opportunity to others because of the way that we play and act on and off the field.”