READY TO STRIKE: Vipers Gain Ground as First Women’s Rugby Team in the Area
Chippewa Valley Vipers hold first official tournament, look to continue growth
Just over one year ago, a handful of UW-Stout and UW-Eau Claire rugby coaches realized they had enough – they missed being players in the sport they loved, but there was no women’s rugby team to join in the Chippewa Valley. That left just one choice: take matters into their own hands. Thus, the Chippewa Valley Vipers were born.
Since a few banded together in the fall of 2022, more than a dozen players now make up the Vipers, who have an official home field, nonprofit status, and sponsorship from 3D Fitness. Looking back to last fall, the Vipers’ first goal was to find a home field to practice and play games on.
“After not having any luck in Eau Claire, we got in touch with Chippewa Falls Parks and Rec (Department) and Director John Jimenez, and he was super excited about the idea,” recalled Krystal Moen, president of the team. “We got together in early January this year and talked about our hopes and goals, and he invited us to the Parks Board meeting to talk about using some of the soccer field space they had available.”
The Board’s decision was unanimous: Casper Park (1025 W. Canal St., Chippewa Falls) would be the Chippewa Valley Vipers’ official stomping grounds. Growing to 13 players and a coach since then, the Vipers hosted their first tournament at Casper Park on Saturday, Aug. 26. Teams from Minneapolis, the Fox Valley, and Iowa traveled to our neck of the woods to play in the inaugural tournament.
“It was a huge success,” Krystal said. “We had plenty of players to go around, a couple of Stout and UWEC college kids who wanted extra playtime got to play, and we had a good turnout with spectators, family, and friends, too. It was a beautiful day to play, great connecting time; it was better than we could have anticipated.”
Now, the Vipers are focusing their efforts on solidifying a fall practice schedule, recruiting more members, and fundraising to continue growing. Anyone 18 years and up can join (17-year-olds can join, too, with parent or guardian permission) and the team prides itself on being inclusive and open to players of all experience levels – even if that level is none.
“We’re very proud to be an inclusive women’s rugby club. Everyone’s welcome,” Krystal said. “We’ve been very vocal about our inclusivity. We support men in the community, too; they’re welcome to come practice with us if they want to. If you want to play or become a part of the team another way, we want to make that work.”
I WENT TO MY FIRST PRACTICE AND FELL IN LOVE WITH THE COMMUNITY – IT'S SO WELCOMING, SO OPEN.
president of the Chippewa Valley Vipers
“When I first started playing rugby 10 years ago, I had never heard of rugby before I went to college. I went to my first practice and fell in love with the community – it’s so welcoming, so open,” Krystal recalled. “So even if you don’t know how to play, even if you’re not sure you want to, come to a practice. You can just watch and get a chance to talk to everyone.”
The Chippewa Valley Vipers solely communicate information on practices and games through social media as they work on a website.
The Vipers play in a Festival league, a developmental league for teams getting their start before becoming part of a competitive league. With one official business sponsor, 3D Fitness, and its largest sponsorship coming from one of the Vipers, Claire, in honor of her grandparents Fran and Bob Faltz, the team is still seeking additional sponsors to support them (tiers available from $1 to $2,500+). Find more information on sponsorships on their Facebook page.