When asked what her children Avery and Zoë – ages 8 and 7 – love most about rugby, Katherine Berliner’s answer is simple: “Pretty much everything!” Avery and Zoë first picked up a rugby ball at ages 5 and 4, respectively, and the obsession gripped them from the very beginning. Now, Avery and Zoë are two of the Eagles’ biggest (albeit, littlest) fans.
Prior to moving to Hong Kong in 2010, the Berliners had no affiliation with rugby. But when their children became old enough to participate in youth sports, they knew they wanted Avery and Zoë to play a team sport with their classmates, and rugby seemed like the perfect choice. What started out as a casual activity has quickly become a family affair – Noah Berliner has coached Avery from the very beginning and is now coaching Zoë, as well. Katherine supports the club, setting up for tournaments or helping with kit distribution and planning social events. “Over time, we realized how lucky we were to be part of a great club and have gained a rugby family,” Katherine explains.
Avery and Zoë not only show their love for the game on the pitch, but also bring it into the classroom. From an early age at their school, children are taught to be authors, and from the beginning Avery’s favorite writing topic was rugby. “If they were assigned to write a ‘how to’ manual, he would write about how to play rugby. When it was a fictional story assignment, he wrote a story about the perfect rugby game,” recalls Katherine. “This year, he was tasked with writing about who he is as a person and what people should know about him. He thought the most important thing someone should know about him is that he plays rugby.”
Not to be outdone, Zoë also “tackled” a recent school project by focusing on rugby. During their school’s “Book-oween” event, students are asked to dress up as their favorite book character. Zoë chose the book “Girls Play Rugby” by Emma Jones and dressed up as a USA Rugby player. Along with the costume, Zoë’s assignment included drawing a bio photo of her character, so she drew a picture of herself playing against her favorite player Perry Baker.
Through their participation with Valley Fort Rugby Club, Avery and Zoë have not only developed a passion for playing the game, but have truly become USA super fans. “When April rolls around and Hong Kong 7s is near, excitement hits a fever pitch in our house,” says Katherine. Though the Berliners can no longer sleep in on Saturday mornings, Katherine is proud that rugby has given Avery and Zoë a solid foundation of sportsmanship, teamwork and resiliency. “We are so grateful that we made the decision to give rugby a try years ago,” Katherine says. “It has really given us a chance to watch our children find something they love to do.”
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