COLUMBIA — Rugby is not a common sport, nor is it one commonly played by women in their late thirties.
But, for Christina Holzhauser, this is her way of life at age 36. She is the fly-half for the Columbia Black Sheep Women's Rugby team.
"My nickname is 'Grandma,' and I got that nickname when I was in my mid-twenties," Holzhauser said. "So now that I'm in my mid-to-late-thirties, I must be 'Great Grandma.'"
She started playing the game when she was 18 years old and hasn't stopped for a day since.
Holzhauser's teammate Leigh Walker said the nickname "Grandma" does not reflect how Holzhauser plays on the field.
"That really isn't even part of the game anymore really," Walker said. "She's just Chris. I think she plays just as well if not better than some of us who are 22. So, her age doesn't matter. I think she fits right in."
Walker also said Holzhauser is the leader of the team and glue that holds it together.
"She is our mother," Walker said. "She yells at us sometimes, but also picks us up whenever we're down."
But Holzhauser's parenting as a mother doesn't stop on the field with her teammates. She also spends her off time parenting her 6-year-old son.
She said being a mother has changed the way she plays rugby.
"I try not to cuss as much as I used to," Holzhauser said. "And I try to give positive feedback instead of just negative. And I do feel like all the people out there in my circle, they're mine. So I want to protect them and I want to help them too."
Holzhauser said many women join the team that have never played the game before and get discouraged during the learning process. She said she takes it upon herself now to help these rookies.
"There are a lot of frustration tears," Holzhauser said. "And I try to sort of like quell those by saying, 'I totally understand. I was once 18 and I had a sport that I was good at, but it's okay, we're just going to erase all that and use your skills in rugby now. So I think having that relation with the younger players on the team is important, too."
Holzhauser also said the game becomes more challenging for her as she ages, but that her teammates and family are what keep her playing her passion.
The CRFC Black Sheep Women's Rugby Team battle it out next on April 30 at the Jay Dix Trail.