CPC Featured Player: Naomi Batzer
Full Name: Naomi Batzer
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Position(s) played: Front Row
All Blue since: March 2020 (crying emoji)
All Blues: When and how did you first start playing rugby? What got you into it?
Naomi: I first started playing rugby at UPitt. I was walking across campus during the club fair and someone shouted “hey you, do YOU want to play rugby?” I went to one practice and have been hooked ever since.
I think I was missing that camaraderie and “crazy sport” aspect when I got a back injury and was told I couldn’t row in college. After taking a year off, I really needed a team and intense sport to fill that void.
AB: Did you play any sports prior to rugby?
N: I rowed in high school and grew up surfing and skiing.
AB: Do you have a philosophy/mindset when you practice and play rugby? If so, what is it?
N: Try things and work really hard. Run that new line, try poaching -- you may mess up but you won’t know what works for you until you do. Also, work really, really hard. Don’t let that person run past you during touch, try to catch them. You don’t know when someone will make a mistake or when you’ll need that mental toughness in a game.
AB: How did you first find out about the All Blues?
N: I first found out about the All Blues on Mauna Kea. I was visiting a friend, T, who was doing amazing work protesting the TMT on sacred Hawaiian land. We were up there and I was doing a phone interview for a position in LA. I remember us talking one day, in the pouring rain on the Mauna, and she said “we’re going to play for the All Blues -- you, me, Tahlia, and Naomi (her partner).” I thought she was nuts but the next day I got a call back and they offered me a position in the Bay.
AB: How long have you played for us?
N: I’ve played one game for the All Blues!
AB: What is one of your best memories thus far as an All Blue? What do you like most about being on this team?
N: I love how committed this team is to each other. We have some great, talented players but people also really care about the club and their teammates. It was scary being new here during the pandemic but I really appreciate all of the people who took me under their wing.
AB: Is there a particular player and/or coach that has influenced your development as a player? In what way(s) did they help you?
N: Alycia Washington. She is a shining example of what it means to put your all into the game. She’s a problem solver and a go getter -- she saw how inequitably women’s rugby was being funded and portrayed in the media so she decided to do something about it and started the XV Foundation. She works incredibly hard and was willing to call the team out when we could be doing better. In addition, she’s an all-around sweetheart. Alycia really took me in my first nationals and made sure I felt welcomed. My second nationals she wrote me a note that I still have to this day. Definitely someone I really look up to and respect.
AB: What is the best advice you have ever received about playing rugby?
N: That the best players have the shortest memories during the game -- definitely something I’m still working on. Those who know me know I’m a perfectionist and the president of the “one more” club.
AB: What skills are you working on/would like to work on right now?
N: I want to become a more technical tackler and poacher. I also want to work on plugging in at the right space on the field during attack. Also, I can always work on my mental game.
AB: How do you balance your responsibilities and playing rugby?
N: I don’t (laughing crying emoji). I have this bad habit of going all in for rugby and for any club I join. Hence, why I was on the exec committee before ever playing a game.
AB: Who’s your favorite rugby player/team to watch? Why?
N: I really love watching Dane Coles and Codie Taylor. They’re proof as to how dynamic front row players can be. I also love the Black Ferns -- especially Rubi Tui. She’s proof of how amazing, yet humble a player can be.
AB: What is your favorite non-rugby activity?
N: Reading, especially on the beach
AB: If you were an ice cream flavor, which one would you be?
N: Probs anything with chocolate