After weeks of hard work and hard hits, five members of the UCSB women’s rugby team will travel to Tampa, Fla. to participate in the Rugby All-Star games, which run from Dec. 5 to Dec. 7.

Seniors Sarah Bow and Erica Shepard – along with juniors Wendy Willett and Sarah Rathbun, and sophomore Niki Palmer – were chosen to travel with the Southern California All-Star team after UCSB scrimmaged against the team on Nov. 16 in Long Beach, Calif.

“We went into [the scrimmage] knowing that there was an opportunity for us to join them in Florida,” Palmer said. “This is a great opportunity for us.”

After being given only three weeks to prepare to play against some of the best women rugby players in the nation, the chosen Gauchos used their teammates to keep them grounded.

“Our teammates have been really supportive,” team president Willett said. “We all know that this is not just a chance for us to excel independently but also as a team.”

With only six collegiate athletes chosen to participate with the Southern California All-Star team in this event, the five women selected from UCSB know that they will have to prove that they are the right women for the job.

“Our team has so many natural athletes,” Palmer said. “[The All-Star team] was able to find a place for a few of us.”

The athletes traveling to Florida will use the valuable experience of playing against the Under-23 National Team and eight other women’s club teams to better prepare the Gauchos for their upcoming season, which begins in January. The rest of the team will scrimmage against UC Santa Cruz on Dec. 7, while the five Santa Barbara All-Stars have fun in the Florida sun.