Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
At 5’4’’ and 187 pounds, she is a tough player to bring down.
But this elite athlete and fierce competitor had her work cut out for her when she met Sharon Pendleton, a 15-year-old Wisconsinite who wanted to be “made” into a rugby player.
An episode of MTV’s “Made” will air on Tuesday August 17, that will document Knight’s mission to turn Pendleton into a bona fide rugby athlete.
The show’s premise is this: A person (usually a teenager) has a dream. The dream could be anything; to become a wrestler, an outstanding debater, a motocross racer, whatever the person wants to be. MTV then finds a qualified coach to make the dream come true. Sometimes the dream comes true and sometimes it doesn’t. Though we aren’t permitted to know how the episode ends, we do know this: MTV hit it out of the park when they chose Phaidra Knight to be Pendleton’s mentor and coach.
Knight has been a standout on the Women Eagles for ten years playing flanker and prop, positions that require an extraordinary amount of physical and mental tenacity. She graduated magna cum laude from Alabama State University and has a law degree from the University of Wisconsin. She is not only an outstanding athlete, but a person with remarkable character and gumption. That said, her will was certainly tested by the teenage wannabe rugby player.
Throughout the six-weeks of filming Knight experienced a series of perpetual highs and lows, as dealing with temperamental teens invariably results in an emotional rollercoaster for the adult trying to control them. In addition to the challenge of teenage hormonal impulsivity, Pendleton had never played a sport before. Pendleton doesn’t exactly have Knight’s kind of physical stature as she’s “about 100 pounds soaking wet,” according to Knight.
Making the teen see herself as an athlete was not easy. But, with the help of USA Rugby’s sponsors, Emirates Airline and Canterbury of New Zealand, Knight was able to get Pendleton kitted-out to make her look and feel like a rugby player.
Knight said that the experience was a “successful venture…a life-changing experience.” She is unable to reveal more details about the show until the episode airs on August 17.
After working with Pendleton, Knight found that the rewards of helping a young person become successful far outweighed the drawbacks. When she returns from the WRWC, Knight will pursue coaching and a career in television broadcasting.
To learn more about Phaidra, visit her website.