Mahdia Parker ’23 has arrived from Harlem with a bang, scoring three tries as an outside center in her first collegiate rugby appearance and leading the Bears to a 60-19 victory over Long Island University Saturday.
Parker previously played rugby for the Columbia Secondary School, where she was voted Rookie of the Year in 2016, MVP in 2017 and top offensive player in 2019, according to Brown Athletics. Parker also captained the New York Rugby Club and was selected to play for Team USA’s U18 Winter Camp during her senior year. For her outstanding efforts against the Sharks, Parker has been named The Herald’s Athlete of the Week.
Herald: Congratulations on your first collegiate rugby game! For those who don’t follow the sport, what does an outside center do?
Parker: An outside center is someone who supports both the wing and the inside center. They play with the backs — who are the offensive generators of the team. (Outside centers) do less of the contact than the forwards. The backs are mostly for playmaking, agility and speed. I’m supporting the inside center and the wing as well as making and being a part of plays.
What are the biggest differences you’ve noticed between high school and college rugby?
Definitely the commitment. I have practice four days a week now, while I used to only have practice two days a week. (The Bears) have a game every weekend. I see a lot more passion from the team here. The girls are really committed, and it makes you want to be committed. I feel like I have to push myself more because you are a part of a team for a reason and you’re supposed to support each other as a family. It’s motivating and inspiring. I’m really happy to be a part of it.
What made you choose Brown?
Obviously academics — you just don’t get this experience anywhere else. Also, the location. I didn’t want to be too far from my family so my parents can come see me play. (In Providence), they can come visit me, and I can go visit them. The environment is different from New York City, but now that I’m in it, I can see myself here. (Brown) values diversity and values differences as strengths, not as weaknesses. The students want to learn and are willing to work and are willing to put in the effort. Those are values I hold dear and it seems like the University and the people in it do too.
What other activities are you considering outside of rugby?
I’m thinking about joining (the Black Student Union) and doing some things with the Brown Center for Students of Color. I haven’t checked out everything, but once I delve into the resource fair, I think I’ll find a lot more things (that) I’m interested in.
Coming from New York, how has it been adjusting to living in a smaller city?
There are no streets signs anywhere! I’m just like, ‘Where am I? What is this? Where am I going?’ It’s very confusing at first, but now that I know some of the names relative to other streets, I’ve oriented a little bit. There are fewer people, but the people who are here are nice and genuine. I’m really excited to be in Providence. I feel like it will be a great home for the next four years.
Do you have a signature move or style of play fans should look forward to?
I do a great head fake. … If they don’t catch it, it’s a great move for me.
Women’s rugby will next compete against West Chester University of Pennsylvania Saturday.