View Park junior Kaitlin Lewis plays rugby and volleyball (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

Kaitlin Lewis is a junior scrum half of the View Park girls rugby team. Seeing the opportunities that her sister reaped from the program inspired her to join.

“I would go to her games and I would watch her play and it looked really fun,” Lewis said. “She would go on tour and travel internationally and that’s something I wanted to do.”

Lewis played rugby for the first time in fifth grade and joined View Park’s program during her ninth-grade year. She noted how competing for the first time helps players learn more about rugby. Her first game was a challenging moment.

“When you’re starting out in your first game, it’s really nerve-racking because you don’t know how to play, you don’t know if you’re ready to tackle,” Lewis said. “But once you get out there and actually start tackling, you get over the fear.”

Lewis enjoys going through rugby drills and working on passes with teammates. Her coaches taught her the importance of relying on her teammates and analyzing the field during competitions.

“You have to see where you’re going, you have to look out for your team and find support,” Lewis said. “It’s not just always one on one. It’s a team-based sport, you have to rely on others to pass the ball out and run.”

Trust and communication have been key qualities of the girls’ rugby team this season, according to Lewis.

Since she had been on the team since the ninth grade, Lewis takes on a leadership role of getting newcomers acclimated to the sport. She and her teammate, who is also a junior, leads warm-ups with the team every practice.

Along with competing in rugby, Lewis also plays volleyball. While Lewis enjoys the sport, she competes in volleyball to get extra conditioning for the rugby season.

To Lewis, being a student athlete means ensuring that schoolwork gets done while being able to attend practices and games. She does the best that she can to balance both obligations.

“Sometimes it can be rough,” Lewis said.  “It’s not 100 percent easy to balance and then studying or coming home and not really having time to do your homework.”

AP Language and Composition is Lewis’ favorite classes; one of her favorite books that she read for the class is “The Souls of Black Folk” by W.E.B. Du Bois.

Outside of competing and completing schoolwork, Lewis also teaches rugby to elementary and middle school students.

“We’ll coach them for about three weeks, teaching them the game,” she said.

Lewis also enjoys painting and crocheting. In the future, she wants to attend a four-year institution and get into the medical field and practice dermatology.