Kenmore West senior athlete Autumn Locicero has many things to smile about this summer. Last Wednesday, in front of friends, family, and teammates, Locicero signed a letter of intent to continue her rugby career at Life University, where she will also study to become a chiropractor.
But what many people don’t know about this year’s girls rugby club captain, is that off the field she is a competitive dancer, and has been dancing since the age of three.
“Dance was where my life was at,” Locicero said of the athletic abilities she demonstrated early on in her childhood.
Competing as a solo dancer and with a group at Center Stage Dance Studio in Cheektowaga, Locicero remains connected to what she describes as her “sassy side,” practicing techniques in jazz, ballet, modern, contemporary, tap, acrobatics, and lyrical dance styles at conventions and competitions.
“Dance helps me on the field because it keeps me light on my feet,” she said with a half-serious laugh. “My coach always says to do hip hop and ballet moves to help me navigate the field better.”
How else has her inner sassy helped to lead the team to one of the best seasons they’ve had so far?
Locicero, the team’s fullback, said that the discipline learned from dancing and the determined spirit she applies to perfecting technique translates well onto the field during heated moments of game play, helping her to move that much swifter and that much stronger.
“It [discipline learned from dancing] has definitely helped me in figuring out why I am doing the things I do on the field,” Locicero said.
Her sassiness also helps drive out her aggressive nature, so when she is playing 15s as a sweeper she can tackle with full-force.
The Kenmore West athlete is also ready and willing to take as many hits as she delivers, keeping in mind that the inevitable is always near.
“I try to put forth my best effort all the time. I definitely had to learn to be more aggressive than I am on stage (as a dancer),” she said. “It’s a switch of gears for me. I am able to get all of my anger out on the field and show my sassy side on stage with all my friends.”
Although the girls team couldn’t quite keep up with Orchard Park this month in a 40-0 loss sending the three-time defending NYS champions to Nationals, Locicero is proud of how far her team has come, as well as how much Western New York high school rugby has improved over the years.
One of her dreams after graduating from Life University in Atlanta, which has the third highest ranked rugby program in the country, is to return to Kenmore West to give the men’s team a run for their money.
“Many people told me I wasn’t going to be able to play rugby because I was just some ballerina,” she said, “but proving everyone wrong by putting forth the effort to be the best you can be in the sport is the greatest feeling.”
Her parting words of advice for the upcoming class of aspiring female rugby players?
“You got to be willing to take the hits, or the game is not for you.”
Feature Photo Courtesy of Jessica Helen Brant/WNYAthletics.com
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