Malery Billingy is tackling, passing, and scrumming toward her dreams. The Brooklyn born-and-bred rugger has Olympic hopes, a passion for contact, and a life experience enriched by her love for the sport.
Hey Malery. To start, can you tell us who you are and where you’re from?
I’m Malery Billingy, I’m seventeen and I’m from East New York, Brooklyn.
When did you start playing rugby?
I started off in seventh grade. I started on the track team and my coach had a Flag Rugby program for the boys. She promised she’d get more girls involved, so she took all the girls from the track team and put them on the Flag Rugby team and I just started from there.
When did you go from flag rugby to tackle rugby?
In eighth grade Play Rugby USA introduced a tackle program to all the schools involved in the Flag Programs, so I started from there and I’ve been playing tackle from eighth grade ‘till now, my senior year.
What position do you play?
I’m a wing in sevens. In fifteens I’m a fullback or inside centre.
What does your practice regimen look like?
During the season we spend eight hours a week on practice time and an extra four hours on weekends for games. I don’t do any other fitness but this year we got fitness programs this year so I’m gonna start.
Tell us about your relationship with rugby?
I love rugby so much. It hurts me when I’m late to practice because I just want to get every second of it in. It’s just amazing. I’m always excited and just ready to play and hit somebody.
What’s your favorite thing about the game?
What I love about rugby is the aggression and the contact and being able to take out any anger on the field.
How has rugby benefitted your life outside of rugby?
I was impatient and it showed in my classes. My teachers were always pulling me aside like ‘You have to calm down, not everybody like learns at the same speed as you.” I had to calm down and relax and know that everybody’s different, everybody has their own way of learning. Rugby has helped me with patience.
Have you seen the same thing happen with other kids that you play with?
When Play Rugby came in and taught all of us about rugby, a lot of the kids in my neighbourhood joined the program and then got scholarships for programs in like Manhattan and rugby football club and the Academy. So it just helped them stay on track with their grades and school work and everything.
What about travel? Have you gotten to travel on account of rugby?
I’ve travelled the world because of rugby, I’ve played in Las Vegas, I went to camps in California. I was the MVP at Stanford’s rugby camp. I went to Life Camp, I got a scholarship for LIFE University and played in Bermuda. I made the All Tournament team in Utah for the North American Invitational Sevens Team. I recently got invited to the high school American camp in Arizona and that’s gonna happen in December. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for Play Rugby, if it wasn’t for rugby itself.
What do people in your neighborhood think of rugby?
People in Brooklyn don’t really know what rugby is. It depends on what school they went to, because some schools in Brooklyn had the flag rugby program and some didn’t. I always tell them just come watch my game to see what will happen.
Right on, Malery. Best of luck with everything.