New Hampshire Airman Selected for Department of the Air Force 7s Rugby Team

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Victoria Nelson
  • 157th Air Refueling Wing

On the large green fields at the Cape Fear Armed Forces Rugby Championship, an Airman from the 157th Air Refueling Wing feels a familiar tinge of nervous excitement before her first championship with the Department of the Air Force Women’s 7s Rugby Team.


Capt. Joy Dewitt, a KC-46A Pegasus pilot with the 157th ARW, begins warm-up drills with her teammates, taking in the palpable energy around them. Dewitt was selected to join the DAF Women’s 7s Rugby Team in the spring of 2022 after playing the sport for only a few months.


“After becoming a mom and becoming a pilot those two things were taking up most of my space and time and I knew I needed to find an outlet for just myself,” she said. “I found something that relit a fire in me. I was able to find the athlete inside myself again and compete in such a powerful environment.”


She started going to practices with the Seacoast Tugboats, a local rugby team on the New Hampshire seacoast in September 2021. Now after being selected, for two weeks of the year, Dewitt gets to train and compete with top rugby athletes from active duty, guard, and reserve forces around the world.


“The Air Force is giving us a platform to have athletic opportunities alongside our careers,” Dewitt explained. “It’s phenomenal that we can get a team of strong, successful, independent women working together to play a sport that embodies Air Force values.”


The DAF rugby team competes in Camp Pendleton, California and at the Cape Fear Armed Forces Championship in North Carolina each year. They are comprised of Airmen from all different Air Force specialties, backgrounds and skill sets.


“There are lawyers, engineers, teachers and women with amazing backgrounds that all compete together as one team,” said Dewitt. “Everyone brings different life and rugby experience and creates a space for networking and growth where people understand the military and the dynamics of our every-day work environment.”


Rugby is a physically and mentally demanding sport. To be successful requires an accumulation of grit, encouragement and tenacity as a team. Richie Walker, DAF Women’s 7s head coach, said Dewitt stands out as a forceful player who has a positive impact on her teammates.


“Her tackles are aggressive,” said Walker. “You can’t teach that kind of commitment on defense.”


“Dewitt has a great attitude and willingness to learn,” Walker added. “She plays with a massive smile all the time and it rubs off on her teammates.”


DAF Women’s 7s team placed second at the Armed Forces Championship, beating the Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps.


The championship gave Dewitt a mission, a team and a goal. She said she will always be inspired by the comradery in her wingmen and their drive to always aim higher together.


“Everyone has their reason to start serving in the military and then there’s reasons why we stay,” said Dewitt. “Knowing that twice a year I get to play with these strong women from all over the world, as a team, in a sport we all love, is one of mine.”