January 26, 2011
In the Kitsap, Washington area, Hannah Wood and Brittany Rusinski are minor celebrities. The two teens are the reigning Miss Kitsap and Miss Silverdale, respectively, both winning beauty pageants as high school juniors. Yet, according to the Central Kitsap Reporter, the two beauty queens are more fond of a football-like ball than their tiaras, with the duo forming a key part of the Kitsap Grenades female rugby team.
"Usually people see pageant girls as people who just want to wear makeup and put on pretty dresses, but it's more than that," Wood told the Reporter. "I can do both things well because I love doing both. We're destroying the stereotype. If you enjoy doing something, go for it."
The beauty queen duo clearly loves rugby, which is why they haven't hesitated to put their health in jeopardy -- and ability to compete in future pageants therein -- every time they take to the field. The duo competes as halfbacks, lining up next to each other where they have formed a close friendship on the field.
In fact, Rusinski intimated that the best part of her time in the sport has been finding a whole host of new friends she and Wood wouldn't have grown close with otherwise.
"When we win in the snow, hail and rain, sometimes a few players short, but knowing that we all worked together, that's one of the best feelings in the world," Rusinski told the Reporter. "It sets a good example for girls who want to grow up and do their thing. It shows girls they can be anything they want to be."
For her part, Wood has been doing that for a long time. Born deaf, Wood began wearing hearing aids at the age of 5, but quickly grew so adept at reading lips that she eliminated any expected troubles connecting with her peers.
Her hearing difficulty hasn't limited her ability to compete on the field, or tell others everything she loves about her new sport.
"You always have to be there for each other in the scrum when you're combining strengths," Wood told the Reporter. "You have to have that bond and that support, or else you're going to fall apart on the field.
"I just say to [naysayers], 'I am Hannah, and she is Brittney, and if we want, we're going to go play rugby,' because that's what we love to do."