In January 2022, a group of rugby enthusiasts came together and established the Ypsi Starlings, an adult women's rugby team.
Mo Kelly, one of the driving forces behind the team, discovered her love for the sport while on the rowing team during her senior year at University of Michigan. Her passion for the sport ultimately led her to embark on the journey of bringing adult women's rugby to Ypsilanti.
Since its founding, the team has been steadily growing.
"We would love to keep expanding, keep seeing new and familiar faces at practice, and keep growing the sport locally," Kelly said.
The Ypsi Starlings are part of the Midwest Rugby League, competing as a Division 3 festival-style team. Competing this way allows grassroots teams to travel and play, even if they don't have a full roster. Some of their opponents include the Lansing Capital Area Crisis, the Toledo Celtics, and the Indianapolis Hoydens.
During the summer, the Ypsi Starlings practice at Frog Island Park where the field is smaller than a regulation rugby field. However, it brings a sense of closeness and community among their players.
Bri Scebbi, a new addition to the team, relocated to Ann Arbor in May of 2023 and quickly found a new home with the Starlings.
"I enjoy being a part of the Ypsi Starlings because they're a close-knit community of strong individuals with so much love for rugby and each other," she said.
Composed of women ranging from early 20s to mid-30s, representing diverse careers in marketing and engineering, the Starlings' inclusivity and diversity sets them apart from other teams.
Whether you're a seasoned rugby player or someone who is looking to try something new, a pair of cleats and the willingness to learn are all you need to join the Ypsi Starlings.
Connect with the Ypsi Starlings via Instagram @ypsi_rugby_women.