Player Profile: Oksana Goretaya

There is a meme on Pinterest I saw once where it had a picture of this epic tackle, and the caption underneath read: “They said I could become anything I wanted… so I became a human bulldozer.” Pretty accurate for those of us who know what giving a hit feels like!

My name is Oksana, but I go by Oks/Ox or Oksy/Oxy/Oxi/Oxsie (people come up with new spellings for my name all the time, it’s great!) I am currently a Junior on the team studying Chemical Biology on a pre-med track, and I am also one of the co-Captains of the team!

I joined rugby halfway through my Freshman Fall. I never intended to play a year-round sport at Brown, nevermind a contact sport! But, as fate would have it, from the moment I stepped on campus, rugby became a part of my life. Literally–as I was moving boxes from my car to my dorm room in Miller Hall, I was stopped by a rugger and was encouraged to try rugby because I looked like an athlete. My first thought was “yeah alright, no one plays rugby in college… i don’t even know what the sport it. but i’ll definitely keep the cool sticker!” After getting cut from the club volleyball team during tryouts in late September, I grew anxious sitting around not doing anything. I had to join a sports team for my own sanity, but Varsity sports were out of the question because I knew I couldn’t make the time for it (or so I thought). I decided to give rugby a try (pun intended)!

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My first practice was on a Wednesday night– contact practice.

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Because NCAA and ACS were not a thing when rugby was a club sport, I was thrown into the drill, and ended up falling in love with the aggressive nature of the sport! Finally, I had found the perfect sport for me! After practicing with the team for 2 weeks, I played in my first B-side game. The following Monday at practice, Coach Kathy Flores pulled me aside and told me she needed me to step in as an inside center for the A-side. Excited, but nervous beyond words, I accepted the challenge. Although I spent the first few A-side games running around the pitch clueless, I learned so much.

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Rugby has been my saving grace here at Brown. Countless times I thought about transferring to an easier school because I was struggling so much with academics, but the team kept me going.

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Without the support from the coaches and my wonderful teammates, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Rugby has taught me to be humble, but confident; to test my limits, and learn from my mistakes. More importantly, rugby has given me a second family.

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I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason– and because of that, I am so thankful that I never made the club volleyball team! Not only can I now proudly call myself a Division 1 Varsity athlete, I can also brag that I am a part of team of bold, beautiful, beasts who have dominated Brown athletics for the past 39 years. With every bone in my body, and every ounce of energy, I LOVE THIS TEAM.

Kia kaha, and until next time!  

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