2009 Meridian graduate, Lauren Doyle, set out to compete on the Olympic field August 5, 2016 in Rio.
For a small town like Macon, Illinois, having students go to state championships: big news. Students going to play for a college: bigger news. Playing in the Olympics: unheard of. That is until Meridian High School met Lauren Doyle. Doyle was a star athlete in high school, earning medals at state competitions and setting records still to be broken by the students following her. Lauren’s mother, Jenneth Doyle, says her daughter’s games growing up were “always exciting.” Though nobody saw rugby as a possible future for Doyle in high school, her former coach and current friend, Denna Williams, “knew she could play a contact sport and was awesome moving around defending.”
Rio has not received the best reputation for being a safe place to be so there was a concern about the safety of the USA teams and their families. They were informed to keep their cellphones away and carry purses in front of them, as well as making sure to not be out after dark. Even the crime rate in the city couldn’t have stopped
Doyle and her supporters from having a wonderful time together on the journey to Rio De Janeiro . The hardest part for Ms.Doyle? “I would say getting adjusted to the food,” she chuckled. “But really it was a great experience all around and I’m very grateful that I got to go.”
Rugby has not been offered as an Olympic sport since 1924, and Doyle went up against some fierce competitors from all over the world, and met Matthew McConaughey. Both Mrs. Doyle and Williams can agree with all of the excitement going on around them, one of the best parts of the trip for them was seeing Lauren on the field playing. Ms. Doyle called the experience “awesome” and “overwhelming.”
Throughout Doyle’s success she has had a community of people to stand behind her and cheer her on from home. “It was felt. Especially while I was in Rio, I felt the support from everyone back home. I got emails, Facebook messages, text messages, everything. I felt it and it is so appreciated that I have this town behind me,” she says with gratitude in her voice.
What’s in the future for Doyle? Her mother hopes it is “whatever makes her happy. If it means living in California and playing rugby [she] supports her.” With the Rugby World Cup many people are hoping for Lauren to help bring home a win to the United States. No matter what Ms. Doyle decides to do after such a major part of her life, the adults of the community will stand behind her while the children look up to her. Lauren has brought excitement and pride to a small town and we hope she continues to do so .
Doyle will continue the rugby season in December while in Dubai.
Comment below your hopes for Lauren Doyle’s future plans!