Rugby Transforms Lindenwood Student’s Life

April 10, 2019

2018 Penn Mutual Life of Significance nominee, Caring De Freitas, of Lindenwood University, spent her teenage years surrounded by a persistent political crisis, enduring hours in the grocery store line to get a carton of eggs because food rations were limited, being robbed at gunpoint at age 15, witnessing the family car being stolen, and even experiencing her brother being kidnapped.

Amid this oppression, however, Caring found an unlikely refuge…Rugby.

At 13, she joined a club team purely as a way to distract herself and avoid becoming immersed in something other than the violence and unrest that surrounded her. The players on the team, all in their 20s, took Caring under their wing, teaching her the game and becoming supportive mentors. She played for only a few years before her superior skills led her to a rugby camp where she met the Venezuela National Rugby team. She was then recruited to play for the team and began to travel internationally to tournaments throughout South America, including events in Argentina, Brazil and Chile. For Caring, rugby had become her escape (mentally, emotionally and physically) from the turbulence in her hometown.

In her senior year of high school, Caring realized rugby could be her way out of Venezuela. She began contacting coaches in the U.S. with her highlight reel in hopes of joining a U.S. collegiate team. She received a scholarship from Lindenwood and made the gut-wrenching decision to travel alone to Saint Charles, Missouri, leaving her family behind.

Notable of Caring, however, is her determination to not forget Venezuela and give back to her native country. For several years, Caring has spent time volunteering with “Rugby Para Todos” or “Rugby for All,” an organization dedicated to teaching rugby to youth living in poverty. Caring is currently focused on learning all she can about the sport in the U.S., with the goal of returning home after college and coordinating camps for these individuals in hopes that it can enhance their lives like it did for her.

Through her efforts with rugby, perseverance in overcoming oppression in her home country, and volunteerism with multiple local organizations (such as Girls on the Run STL and Missouri Special Olympics), Caring was nominated for the 2018 Penn Mutual Life of Significance Award.

“Caring’s drive and determination to make herself and those around her better on and off the field is a testament to her nature. I was proud to nominate her for the Penn Mutual Life of Significance Award,” said Lindenwood women’s rugby coach Billy Nicholas.

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