While membership in the Corps of Cadets entails a regimented lifestyle with a defined daily schedule, there is still room for students to pursue their interests through activities off the Quad. Home to over 1,300 student organizations and activities, the larger Texas A&M campus is filled with opportunities for cadets to further pursue their passions and prepare for their future goals.
On the Quad, cadet Genevieve Pace ‘24 serves as the Second Group Commanding Officer and as a member of Parsons Mounted Cavalry. Her time outside of the arches is spent as a member of Texas A&M’s Women’s Rugby Club. Though she only began playing rugby three years ago, Pace quickly found herself a seasoned veteran on the team.
“During my fish (freshman) year, I was interested in off the Quad involvement and had always wanted to do a contact sport. So, I reached out to the university rugby team’s recruiting officer. Today, I am the player who has been on the team the longest,” Pace explained.
In the fall of her senior season, Pace decided to try out for the National Collegiate Rugby League’s Lonestar Conference All Star Team, which is comprised of the top players from Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Members of this elite team are given the opportunity to compete against other regional conferences for a shot at the league’s national championship title.
“Out of the 40 girls that tried out, I was selected among 13 others for the team. I was nervous to compete against the top 300 collegiate rugby players in the nation. I did not believe in my own abilities or skills, or that I should be competing at the same level as these girls. I overcame this by talking with my teammates who reassured me that they believe in me,” Pace said.
“I set a personal goal during every single match that I would give 100% of my effort and come off the field as exhausted as possible so that there would be no regrets. The Corps has taught me that perseverance. It taught me that excellence is not perfection, but instead giving 100% effort towards what you want to achieve. No shame can come of giving all you can, especially towards a cause with other people, whether that be my buddies in the Corps or my teammates on the field,” Pace continued.
Pace’s perseverance and dedication to her team culminated the weekend of January 20th, where the Lonestar Conference was finally put to the test. Having never played together prior to the championship series, the team had to come together quickly to find success.
“We played in three pool games versus the Ohio Valley, Upstate New York and South Atlantic conferences. We won all three, so we were able to advance straight to the semi-final round the next day. In the semi final match, we played the Midwest team and shut them out to win the match. In the final game, we played the Big 10 and were also able to shut them out to win the National Championship,” Pace said.
“I felt so ecstatic after winning the championship. It was a surreal feeling to go from being unsure of my belonging at the tournament to winning the entire thing. I was so unbelievably proud of how the team so quickly meshed together. All of us were playing for one another, not just for individual glory, and it showed.”
Though time consuming, Pace says that this experience, coupled with her involvements in the Corps of Cadets, have been worthwhile.
“It takes quite a lot of effort to balance the Corps, the rugby team and my academics. But I genuinely believe that if you love what you are doing, you make the time for it. There is no denying that it was difficult, but I have gained so much from both the Corps and rugby. Both have shaped me into the leader I am today. I say take a leap of faith and do something off the Quad because you never know how it may impact you and your future.”
The similarities between the Corps’ leadership development program and the game of rugby may not be immediately apparent. Pace says one specific core value is present everywhere she looks.
“The Corps experience has especially emphasized selfless service. As one of our core values, I see it exhibited everywhere. Whether it be taking an extra sandbag from my buddy on a run or helping others tack up their horse at a Parsons Mounted Cavalry ride class, you can always do something for someone else. I apply this mentality to rugby too. I need to carry my burden and then some in order to be part of a winning team,” Pace said.
Story By: Robin Nelson ’22