Olympic rugby player Isadora Cerullo joins the podcast to talk about finding rugby, how it brought her to her parents’ home country of Brazil, and the importance of creating inclusive sporting environments. Plus a lesson on Brazilian treats!
Forward Progress is sponsored by Hi-Viz Safety Wear. They’re a leading provider of high visibility apparel. So if you need safety vests or hoodies and jackets in the wintertime to keep your crews safe and warm, give them a call at 888-554-4849 or visit their website at wearitforsafety.com. They also offer in-house logo printing. That’s 888-554-4849. Or wearitforsafety.com. Nobody does Hi-Viz better.
Twitter: Click here!
Instagram: Click here!
Izzy: [00:00:00] For me, soccer, when I was on a team, especially in high school, like everyone was kind of really into the same things and everyone had the same style. And North Carolina, like most of the- 90% of the girls on the team were blond and thin. And in those awkward teenage years, not really see myself as part of a group like that, even though we’re all on the same team. And then you go to rugby and everyone is different. There’s tall people, short people and the props and the wings and the scrumhalf and everything in between and everyone just is there one hundred percent for their teammates.
Caroline: [00:00:38] Hi, everyone, and welcome to Forward Progress. I’m Caroline,
Soph: [00:00:41] And I’m Sophia.
Caroline: [00:00:42] We have a lot to cover and a great episode this week. So let’s get into it.
Soph: [00:00:47] Get into it. Zora Stephenson becomes the first woman to call play by play during a regular season basketball game for the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA. You love to see it on.
Caroline: [00:00:58] Anya Packer becomes the general manager of the Metropolitan Riveters of the NWHL.
Soph: [00:01:05] Caroline, what is the NWHL?
Caroline: [00:01:07] The NWHL is a National Women’s Hockey League.
Soph: [00:01:10] Get it
Soph: [00:01:12] Natalia Dorantes becomes the coordinator of football programs, for the Washington Football Team of the NFL. She’ll be the Chief of staff essentially for the head coach, Ron Rivera. Natalia is the first Latina to serve in this role. And she’s a good friend of mine. So I’m very, very happy for her and I’m super stoked to watch her and all the great things that she’s going to do. You love to see it. Tyler Lussi and the Portland Thorns win their first game in the NWSL season at home. Tyler scored the second (game winning) goal on a beautiful header and they won two to one.
Caroline: [00:01:42] This is just the Tyler Lussi stan account.
Soph: [00:01:45] That’s basically what my Twitter is.
Caroline: [00:01:48] The WNBA and Nike recently released their new jerseys for the 2021. They are super cool. They include a home, away, and then a special jersey for every team.
Soph: [00:02:01] I know some of the details are really, really nice. Like the Connecticut Sun.
Caroline: [00:02:05] Yeah, I was going to say the Connecticut.
Soph: [00:02:06] They have the Mohegan tribe.
Caroline: [00:02:07] Definitely.
Soph: [00:02:08] That was really cool
Caroline: [00:02:09] that’s probably one that I would that I like the best.
Soph: [00:02:12] Also the “rise” jerseys. That’s like the strawberry pink color for the mystics.
Caroline: [00:02:17] Yes I like the Mystics one.
Soph: [00:02:17] It has The 19th Amendment like written out. Which is the nineteen amendment that gave women the right to vote at the time, white women. But you know, since evolved. So love that.
Caroline: [00:02:30] They’re really cool. Rachel Blackmore became the first woman jockey to win the Grand National. It’s pretty impressive. I mean.
Caroline: [00:02:39] Let’s talk about our guest for this week. Our guest is an Olympic rugby player representing Brazil who grew up in New Jersey and North Carolina and attended Columbia University with aspirations of becoming a doctor. But before medical school began, the opportunity to play rugby on the world stage presented itself. That meant moving to a new country to chase a dream. We hope you enjoy our conversation with Isadora Cerrullo. You can call her Izzy.
Soph: [00:03:05] Well, thank you, Izzy, so much for coming on.
Caroline: [00:03:08] We always start at the beginning growing up. And you have three brothers, correct?
Izzy: [00:03:12] I do.
Caroline: [00:03:13] You’re a triplet?
Izzy: [00:03:14] I am
Caroline: [00:03:15] That’s craz.
Izzy: [00:03:17] Yeah. It’s the it’s the fun fact for ice breakers. Like, I watch it and it’s like, oh, well, I guess you can start there.
Caroline: [00:03:25] That is a great icebreaker. So growing up, what was your sporting experience like?
Izzy: [00:03:31] Yeah so born and raised in New Jersey actually. I played soccer as soon as I could walk and I- the story I like to tell is that both my parents are Brazilian. So as soon as I started to walk, my brother started to walk, obviously, my father put a soccer ball at our feet and that’s just how it went always. So I fell in love with soccer as soon as I understood that you could walk and kick at the same time. And this was a thing that people really like to do. So I fell in love with soccer and because I have brothers, everyone just started playing peewee soccer together. It’s just like it’s easier to just take everyone to the fields. And there wasn’t a lot of like, oh, she’ll play with the girls team and then the boys, like, I was pretty adept at a pretty young age and my dad just kind of let me play with the boys whenever I could. And some of the parents on the girls teams are like, oh, she’s a monster. Like, take her off the field, I would score too many goals, like we’re six years old. You don’t have to complain that much. So I did for a while play with the boys until we all hit puberty. And then everyone’s like, oh, take her off the field. She needs to play with the girls. So growing up, I played a lot of soccer. Then when I got into high school, I was playing club and high school varsity and kind of talking to my coach about potentially playing professional soccer. And my dad, like, cut that conversation completely. He was like, no, because he had grown up in a really – Brazil has a strong soccer culture, but it doesn’t take very many people very far. So my parents always incentivized us to study. You’ll get much farther along if you focus on your studies, get into a college based on academics. So there was also like “you will not talk to coaches. We are not going to go down that route.” So when I got into college, I got into Columbia University and I just played intramural soccer coed having some fun and then found rugby on the off chance. I went to watch a match. My friend was like, I’m playing rugby. I was like, what is that. He’s like “Come watch.” I was like, all right so so I went to watch. And then I didn’t even know that I could fall in love with the sport again. So I fell in love with rugby and now I’m in Brazil.
Caroline: [00:05:28] Wow, that’s so cool.
Soph: [00:05:30] I saw rugby kind of late like you. I’m like, what is that? It’s sort of Like football, but not at all. They don’t have pads. Like, what is this? But it’s very similar to you. Like I played on an all boys team for baseball for like twelve years and the parents are awful. I think kids are one thing, but the parents are awful. They just told me, like she should be in softball, she should be doing other sports, like she doesn’t belong here. And it wasn’t because I was bad, it was because I was crushing their sons.
Izzy: [00:05:57] Yes, that’s the crazy part. The parents have a lot of opinions. When I was playing, we were all like ten years old. Like, everyone’s just kind of like having fun. And then some of the boys are like, start off just taking it easy to be like, oh, she’s the girl on the team. And then I like play. And they’d be like, Oh, no, we can play with her. We’re good. Let’s go. Let’s play some soccer.
Soph: [00:06:16] Yeah, I know, I know. We like we played pickup basketball. I’m sure you played pickup games in college and stuff. And the guys, they don’t want to hurt you and especially with like Division One athletes. I played pickup basketball with our team and they don’t want to hurt me. And all of a sudden I have two threes and an easy lay up against them. And I have this six five three hundred pound guy like shoving his forearm in my back. I’m like, woah, ok, ok, I get it.
Izzy: [00:06:42] That escalated quickly.
Soph: [00:06:42] Yeah. So you start beating them, you know, and then they’re like, oh wait, I’m not going to go easy on you. Just kidding.
Izzy: [00:06:47] Yeah.
Caroline: [00:06:48] You went to Columbia obviously your parents putting academics first worked out for you. You went to Columbia. You were studying biology and human rights. So did you play rugby all four years or was it after your freshman year or how did that go?
Izzy: [00:07:03] Yeah, so I only found rugby October 2010. So I was already a sophomore. My second year. And since so I played three years, almost three years because I actually got it partway through fall semester was when I discovered rugby. So but as soon as I saw my first game then is watching alone, like I couldn’t even convince a friend to come with me, like watch this new sport that we have no idea what it is. So I went alone to watch my friend play. And then the captain of the women’s team comes up to me during halftime. She’s just like, yeah, I don’t know you, but you look like you play something and I’ve never seen you at practice, so you should come try out rugby. And I was like, yes, sounds fun. When’s practice? I was like, why not? Yeah. So I just fell in love with it. played like, you just dive headfirst. That’s what I loved about rugby and I still love about it, is that you just dive right in. Someone is going to help you along the way. Someone’s going to want to show you some tips, to teach you some things. I just try it as much as I could to play as much as I could. So, yeah, I played almost three years in college and then after I graduated, moved to Philadelphia to work, take a year to get my med school application intact. The plan was just to play rugby for fun and go to medical school and things took a detour, as they say.
Caroline: [00:08:14] Ok, so then you decided to forego medical school and you moved to Brazil. Was that your decision, like, OK, if I’m going to go all in, like I’m going to go to Brazil, represent my country and play rugby.
Izzy: [00:08:27] Yeah. So it was actually a little longer of a process than that. Someone forwarded me – There was an open call from the Brazil Rugby Union for players living outside of Brazil. And that got dropped in my inbox in August of 2013. And I sat on that. I was like, oh no. I literally had just moved to Philadelphia. I had just started my, like, real person job and like made the decision. I was premed. I had already started to put my application together, make a timeline to take the MCAT. I was like, No, rugby is for fun. like, I can join a club and like, take this pretty far at the national level and club in the US and I’ll go to medical school because that’s what I’ve been preparing my whole life for. And so I sat on that until December and then it’s the end of the year. New Year’s resolutions. Like what? What’s going through your head? And I was like, I am going to regret if I don’t try. If I don’t just, like, tick this box. I at least turn this stone over and realize that medical school was for me. And so I got into contact with the Brazilian rugby union. Then from there, it was actually a very fast process of like, let’s get you here for a tryout. Before that, I put together another complex application of I had to write up a cover letter. I had to get recommendations from coaches, video highlight reel of what I could do on the pitch. They sent me a list of fitness tests that they wanted scores for and I had never done real fitness testing. Then I was suddenly asking someone to spot me in the gym for like a squat max rep. I was like, OK, we’re doing this. Everything was kind of new. And then I just kind of dove headfirst. It was like, yeah, we’re going to we’re going to try this. After all of that, they called my coaches. It was actually very, very intense. They called me to see if I was actually interested for real and not just going to waste their money or something like that. And then they invited me for a tryout. And up until this point, no money involved. Like, you have to pay your way. You have to show that you’re really invested in this. And then obviously, I’m not telling my parents any of what’s going on behind the scenes because I am studying for MCAT and everything. I get this invitation for a tryout and I start a crowdfunding site. I put it up on gofundme because I was like, I don’t have money to go to Brazil. I am a research assistant at UPENN Hospital. I don’t – this is not just something that I can bank right now. And I asked people to believe in a dream. I asked people if they know me or even if they didn’t know me. I was starting to dream an Olympic dream. If they also believed in this dream that they would help me a little bit. And in a week I had surpassed my fundraising goal and booked tickets. And then I called my parents said, So I’m going to go to Brazil. Really quick trip. Here’s something to ask. Yeah, I’m going to take the MCAT and then the next week I am going to Brazil. Yeah, that’s sort of the timeline was my parents are just very worried that I needed a reality check. And so they’re like, what? So it’s no, it’s the national rugby team for Brazil. I’m going to try out. I got invited for a tryout. I’m still going to take the MCAT. Everything is squared away. If it doesn’t work out, I come back and I go to medical school. Win-win that’s how I pitched it. There is a tense conversations in the middle of that. But yeah, it was-
Soph: [00:11:38] I completely understand that because you have immigrant parents and all they ever preached to you from the second you could walk like, yes, your dad put a soccer ball at your feet, but then also told you, like, you need to go to school and you need to be good and like you’re going to college. I remember I was like in kindergarten. My mom’s like, you’re going to college. I’m like, I’m going to kindergarten Mom. You know. Yeah, I get that.
Izzy: [00:11:59] No, that’s exactly it. They left Brazil in a really tough time for the country. So it’s the end of the military dictatorship. They were able to leave because they had graduated. They had gotten their master’s degrees. My mom got a Fulbright Scholarship to do her PhD. So that was her ticket out of Brazil. And then my dad was getting a master’s and also going to start his doctorate. So they had used their studies as a way to kind of leave a really difficult situation and start a new life. And then for me to come, like I had visited Brazil once growing up, like we did not come back to the country that didn’t really have a lot left for them. I know that that’s a decision that they didn’t take very lightly, but they chose to close a few doors in that sense to build their life in the United States and leave a lot of stuff behind in Brazil. And then I come along like, so I’m going to move to Brazil. Pretty naive looking back. I’ve been here since 2014. Looking back in those beginning moments, I was a little naive and probably didn’t know one hundred percent what I was after. But this whole process has been important for me to discover my identity as a Brazilian woman, as a daughter of immigrants and having this dual citizenship, but also a dual identity and what it means to be Latina. So it’s been a process, but in the beginning it was like, no, Mom, I am not crazy. Yes, I appreciate everything that you guys have done for me. I am not throwing it away. I hope to make you proud, like all of these things wrapped into a one way ticket to Brazil.
Soph: [00:13:24] You telling your story, I am right there with you. All of it. Growing up in America, having an American identity, but knowing that you are raised with roots somewhere else, largely, you know.
Izzy: [00:13:35] Totally is. It totally is. And especially with the rough history that Latin America as a whole has and Brazil in that is quite complex and very complicated. But the moving here and then meeting my wife and the conversations now I speak more in Portuguese with my parents than in English, which I think is a beautiful thing. And then the experiences that my wife can share with them, like you’ll only understand if you’re Brazilian. And they’ve rediscovered a lot of things that I think they had kept kind of tucked away in a little cupboard that they didn’t want to touch. But it’s been interesting reconnecting in a lot of ways and discovering a lot of things together. So it’s been really special. I don’t think my mom will readily admit to a lot of these things. But she gave you a stern talking to on the way to the airport the first time. But it’s been a really, really special experience.
Caroline: [00:14:25] Did you grow up speaking any Portuguese in your household?
Izzy: [00:14:29] Yeah. So my parents always spoke Portuguese at home. When we were quite young, we would also speak Portuguese with them. But it’s a really terrible habit when you start and go to school like everything is suddenly in English, your friends talk in English. It’s like my brothers, like we all talk in English together. And so we got into a really bad habit of understanding everything our parents would say and then respond in English. You know, you’d like another icebreaker. My parents are Brazilian, I speak Portuguese like and then I got to Brazil. And so the girls on the team, they- the ones who met me when I moved here. They still cracks and jokes like, do you remember when you talk like those, they, like, imitate me in a really terrible way. But yes, I do remember that.
Caroline: [00:15:13] Thank you for bringing it up again haha.
Izzy: [00:15:13] It’s been cool now, like sometimes, most of the time, say, on the street, someone won’t notice that I’m not from Sao Paulo and I could get away with being like, oh yeah, no, it’s just from a different part of the city. And they’ll kind of like, oh yeah, I thought I heard an accent, but not really. Yes. Yes.
Soph: [00:15:31] Caroline gives me so much crap because she probably speaks more Spanish than I do at this point. It’s the same like my mom would speak Spanish and I would understand it or is on the phone with all my family and they’re speaking Spanish and I understand it all. So they can’t talk crap or anything like that. But I only really respond in English because it’s more comfortable. Like you said, you’re you’re speaking all the time. Your friends speak English, your teachers, your coaches. Is your wife Brazilian? Can you tell, like, how you met her and that whole side.
Izzy: [00:15:57] Yeah, yeah. There’s a very funny story with that. So she’s Brazilian, born and raised. When I met her, she was the manager of the national team. So I met her in this capacity and she was in the authority role of making sure all my documents were in order. And at the time when the rugby union did this open call and tried to find players from abroad, she was very opposed, very, very opposed. Her stance was how ridiculous it is that we are going to search outside of Brazil for players and someone will come who’s not Brazilian, hardcore, born and raised, a non Brazilian, will come in and take the spot of a Brazilian on the team. And she was like this. It’s not like I had. So she’s very against it. And I was also not the first person to throw my hat ring in this open call. I was the third, the first to were unfortunate investments. So the rugby union had already struck out twice with this, oh, let’s bring someone from abroad. And then I show up like, yes, I’m totally interested. I’d like to make sure that she either gives up or doesn’t even come here in the first place. So she looks me up on Facebook. Ugh great, she’s a nerd. And then she is like, oh, she’s short. We wanted an American. We get the shrimp of a person. And then I’m like, oh, jeez. So she tells this when we’re married. But this is how she thought in the beginning. And then not only like ugh, the American, like she’s just going to want to come to Brazil and vacation. She also made me get a whole bunch of documents. You have to get like an identity card in Brazil. You have a voter ID card, which is very hard to get when you’re not in Brazil. Like all these things that, she’s like “I need this document and that document.” I had to go to the consulate to see, like they didn’t want to give me one of the documents. I had to try a little bit like give the little sob story. That was the whole thing. She’s part of the reason why there was like no financial aid. And for me to come to Brazil, there was no like, we’re split your cost. Twenty percent,no. You will get nothing. You have to pay your way, which is just kind of funny. And so then I get to Brazil. Our first interaction is at the rugby union office at where I have to like sign some papers and get uniforms to just train with the team and she storms out of a meeting. She’s a very down to business woman. And in her role, she had to just basically organize everything that a national team has to do with logistics, budget, everything. So on this particular day, I guess it’s a tough day at the office. She storms out of the meeting and I’m just like standing in the middle of the office, like, I don’t even know what to do with my arms you know. She looks at me and I’m like I think, you know, I was going to show up like I’m Marjorie, the manager. And I was like, oh, yeah, I know. We exchanged emails. It was not a very polite way to respond, I guess. So she started just like ugh this person already knows me. OK, carry on the conversation. And then she was going to explain some stuff about like the weeks I would spend with the team and so forth. So let’s go into the meeting. “Do do need me to speak in English or can we speak in Portuguese?” I was like, oh, the first test. “You can speak in Portuguese.” She proceeded to speak the fastest Portuguese I’ve ever heard in my life with words that I have never heard in my life, in my limited Portuguese vocabulary with grammatical structures I have never heard in my life. And I am just like nodding, very cool, calm and collected in my head, going, you better not have any questions because you wouldn’t even know how to ask them and then she finishes her shpeel, it looks and it’s like, do you have any questions? Like, No, that was perfect. A plus. To this day, I have no idea if I missed any vital piece of information. That’s the story about how we met.
Soph: [00:19:45] So it was love at first sight, is what you’re saying?
Izzy: [00:19:47] Oh, yeah. Yeah. Long story short. It’s like totally head over heels for each other. How we did actually get to know each other is that we’re just a couple of nerds at heart. And part of my tryout with the team was to go on a trip with the development squad and play some friendlies in Europe. And so we’re in Brussels. We had to do a little stopover before we got to Amsterdam to play Amsterdam 7s. And in Brussels, I was like, oh, we can go to a really cool museum, which is where Magritte painted a lot of his surrealist. It’s the house where he lived, painted his surrealist masterpieces. And obviously I pitched this and everyone’s like, who, who painted what? And then Marjorie, the historians like, oh, let’s go. So we spent a lovely afternoon just walking around Brussels in this house museum, which is crazy, beautiful. And we just started to talk and get to know each other. I think that was a little bit of a beginning.
Caroline: [00:20:43] And then we know that the Rio Olympics, she proposed to you on the pitch. So had you talk about that or did you see it coming or was it just like a big surprise?
Izzy: [00:20:54] So we had had conversations about what was going to happen, like after the Olympics, because I had moved to Brazil with that end goal in mind, like as an athlete. And we did not expect to fall in love and get to a point where we knew that we wanted each other in each other’s lives. And that was no longer a question. So we were having these conversations about, I didn’t know if I was going to move back to the states and go back to medical school. You know, if I was just gonna like, oh, this is a short term, really fun gig as an athlete. Or if I stay with Brazil and with all those uncertainties, one thing that was on the table was like, no, I want to be with you. And we have those conversations about what the Olympics would mean for us. It wasn’t going to be just, oh, well, now this is over. See you later. And we’ll start another turn, another page in our lives. So those are the conversations we were having. Like we find a place together, like did we want to take those next steps? But and we’re both very private people and we would have never thought a proposal or these things or would have been like something just for us. So I had no idea what was going on. Actually, I was the last person to figure out what was going on, she had actually orchestrated, this whole thing where I was going to do an interview afterwards and had to be on the empty pitch. And that’s why I had to stay behind. And then my team wanted to be there with me. I was like, oh, go back to the villa, eat, go eat. Like we’re all athletes. We’re hungry. Like, I was very hungry and I was a little cranky, hangry. I was like, oh, well, I have transportation back to the village. And then she called someone up on the radio. Oh yeah oh yeah. Izadora We have a car back for the village. Yes. And the guy was like the what? the car. What are you talking about? She’s like, yes, you will have you will have a car ticket. No worries I was like, Marjorie, there is no car. What are you talking about. So lovely orchestration of the event. And then B, this whole thing, it was meant to be just for my team and her team at the venue. And then someone told the press. Because she managed the stadium, she knew that after the medal ceremony, all the medalists go to the media center and the media obviously goes with them to film the medalists and do the interviews and everything after the medal ceremony. So it was supposed to be like nobody is going to be on an empty rugby pitch except for us. She kind of planned it that way to mark a really special moment for us and then everyone who had kind of followed along with this little love story.
Caroline: [00:23:16] Forward Progress is sponsored by Hi-Viz Safety Wear. They’re a leading provider of high visibility apparel. So if you need safety vests or hoodies and jackets in the wintertime to keep your crews safe and warm, give them a call at 888-554-4849 or visit their website at wearitforsafety.com. They also offer in-house logo printing. That’s 888-554-4849. Or wearitforsafety.com. Nobody does Hi-Viz better.
Caroline: [00:23:48] You played rugby in the US. Obviously, now you have been playing in Brazil specifically within rugby, but just in the sporting culture as a whole. Were there any sporting culture shocks that you had?
Izzy: [00:23:59] Oh, that’s an interesting question. The most sporting shock would be between soccer and rugby. Like soccer is a team sport. And I, I love the game. I think it’s really dynamic. Very interesting, very fun. It takes a lot of skill and teamwork. But then you go to rugby, you’re like “oh there’s another way to do team sports.” And for me, that was really important. For me, soccer, when I was on a team, especially in high school, like everyone was kind of really into the same things and everyone had the same style. And North Carolina, most of the- 90% of the girls were blonde and thin. And in those awkward teenage years, not really see myself as part of a group like that, even though we’re all on the same team. And then you go to rugby and everyone is different. There’s some tall people, short people and the props and the wings and the scrumhalf and everything in between and everyone just is there one hundred percent for their teammates. So I guess that shock to me was like having my eyes opened in that regard to the potential of what a team sport is and especially what a sports culture could be like in a different context. So for me, like rugby was really important in that sense to give me that sense of community, to also introduce me to womxn outside of the heteronormative way of living. So gender identity and self-expression and a lot of these things in that way, I found that through rugby. I think everyone, I hope who needs to find it in some way and I’m really grateful that I gave that to me
Soph: [00:25:28] Rugby has been that for you; an ability to feel most yourself. And you wouldn’t leave America and comfort and medical school if it wasn’t something that really fulfilled you in that way. How do you think sports, like soccer and other sports, could achieve something- I get the body type thing that’s more suited for rugby in terms of the schematics and how you accomplish a goal. But in terms of, like you were saying, everyone’s white and everyone’s blond with a couple of exceptions.
Izzy: [00:25:55] Yeah
Soph: [00:25:56] And as you get further up, it’s just that way. So what do you think has to progress? What do you think has to change to make it look a little bit more like rugby or what you’re talking about of everyone being represented and just more identities, more backgrounds, that kind of thing?
Izzy: [00:26:11] That’s a really perfect question. Because sport in itself doesn’t exist in a bubble, not like we want to create this insport. We want the world. We want society to be this beautiful, diverse, heterogeneous thing that is also filled with people who will respect that and promote that and to create inclusive environments that are diverse and fueled by that respect is is really important. So in sport reflects that. It’s not that we want to create this bubble insport. I think as we make this cultural shift, these societal transformations towards equality and diversity and inclusion, and that trickles into sport. So that’s one way to look at it. And then at the same time that that’s happening, I think there are these bubbles that will help transform society. So I think rugby is a bubble in that regard where we are in the women’s rugby at least a couple steps ahead in a lot of things. We can talk about transwomen in sports and that sort of transphobia. That is unfortunately contaminating the beautiful rugby bubble that I got to know and I fell in love with the sport. But in that regard, inside of sport, inside sports that aren’t rugby, I think people in positions of power and people who have this awareness and hold these values of these values do their part to take conscious steps to create that environment on teens, in schools, in clubs. Like there needs to be those change makers that have a really important active role in changing the culture, bringing people in, calling things out, like we don’t call people that we here. We don’t use that sort of language and those sort of agents of change and also those allies not expecting the people who are outside of the norm to always have those roles. I think there’s also that moment, oh just because I am a Latina woman on my soccer team, I shouldn’t have to be always the one that’s going to start those conversations or teach people how to show up for me. There needs to be that sort of allyship as well. So, yeah, sport doesn’t exist in a bubble. I think there’s a lot of cross talk that needs to happen to what’s happening in society, what happens in sport and how we mix the bubbles.
Soph: [00:28:13] That’s beautifully said. Sport is a reflection of the world. It’s not this crazy different thing from the world is just a reflection of it. And all the problems that exist outside of sports exist in sports. But with sports and all the things that you found in rugby, there is a better way. And people that are trying to create progress are likely in sports and likely leaders in that. And then you brought up quickly trans athletes. Trans athletes can’t be the only people standing up for themselves.
Izzy: [00:28:38] Exactly.
Soph: [00:28:38] And that’s a huge problem. That is people thinking that they’re separate from the issue or not wanting to touch it at all because it’s seen as political. Our bodies are not.. like some bodies are political and somebodies are not like that’s not all right either, and I’m sure we could go into a whole ‘nother rabbit hole. But I totally understand. We have to stand up for each other. And people of color can’t always speak out and teach racism and same for trans people. They can’t always speak on transphobia. The allies are what’s going to make things better.
Izzy: [00:29:05] Exactly. Yeah, because not so long ago, like we were part of the marginalized group and a few of us are in the middle now and we can expect that these few are going to move the status quo to the direction needs to move. There needs to be more happening from the inside as well. And sports are political. We can’t just stick to sports.
Caroline: [00:29:27] We have two final questions for you. There are recurring questions that we ask all of our guests. The first one is, what is a sport that you wish you knew more about or saw more of growing up
Izzy: [00:29:38] Handball! Yes. Here in Brazil, handball is huge. Not as much for women, but yeah, everyone in school will play handball at some point. And the Brazilian women’s handball team is quite good. Fun story. I ran into half of them in the laundry line in the Olympic Village and I just was like, do you guys know what rugby is? You just like, look over. That’s the great thing about the Olympic Village. You just like look at some athletes. You like to think they’ve heard of rugby. Do you think they would be interested? Because, like, you just see people who like a perfect fit for the sport. So it’s a strange thing. It’s a sport that you play on a court like you just need a little net that you can also use for footsol, like it’s not any equipment that the United States has never seen. And yet we don’t play handball in the States. So, yeah, it’s also so dynamic and physical. I think I wish I had seen that a little more and had an experience with that. I am pretty short, as I said earlier, so I probably wouldn’t have got very far. Had to be pretty tall. It helps, but yeah, it would have been really interesting.
Caroline: [00:30:41] We would play handball all the time and my physical ed classes and
Izzy: [00:30:46] Was I like not in the right school? What was I doing? Playing soccer.
Caroline: [00:30:50] We would play it. But I didn’t know that it was like a legitimate sport. Right, though.
Izzy: [00:30:54] Yeah. OK,
Caroline: [00:30:54] Some gym game that the PE teachers like made up. OK, this makes sense.
Izzy: [00:31:00] Okay now I’m having flashbacks of PE Class like we definitely played handball. I lied. Revisionist history. No, but it wasn’t taught as this is an Olympic sport. Yeah, but
Soph: [00:31:12] You never you never see it on TV, so that makes sense. It’s like that scooter basketball thing where you were like on the ground. You’re like, this is not a sport. But then there are adaptive sports of basketball that you don’t see on TV. They’re adaptive sports of so many different kinds that you never see. So handball is cool. Yeah, we played handball. Caroline, You’re right. We played handball in high school once, but this kid, like, dislocated his shoulders, so we just stopped playing it. I was like a woah,
Izzy: [00:31:38] Like horror stories, like how to get turned off from a sport really fast.
Soph: [00:31:43] Alright, the granddaddy of them all. Probably our favorite question to ask all of our guests.
Izzy: [00:31:49] Drum roll.
Soph: [00:31:49] Caroline go for it
Caroline: [00:31:50] Oh, OK. What is your ideal ice cream sandwich?
Izzy: [00:31:55] I love ice cream and this is going to be a little hard. Oh my goodness. Ideal ice cream sandwich.
Soph: [00:32:00] Some Barbara Walters hard hitting stuff right here.
Izzy: [00:32:04] Ok, so I’m thinking so hard because there’s a really, really good there are several really good ice cream shops in Brazil. If you come to Sao Paulo, you eat very, very well. Just throwing that out there. Anyone who comes to Sao Paulo and people eat a lot of ice cream here. I love I love ice cream. My favorite ice cream shops always use really Brazilian flavors. So my two favorite flavors are it’s lemongrass. It’s hard to explain, but I think the translation is lemongrass, the cupping cinderella. And it’s a very fresh flavor. And then the other one is this lemon cream. So those two flavors are very citrusy and very fresh. I am just making this up. I didn’t know if I had to choose one flavor in choosing to those two different favorite flavors.
Caroline: [00:32:46] No you can have as many as you want. You can have two different cookies, whatever you want.
Izzy: [00:32:49] Oh man. And the cookies are hard.
Soph: [00:32:52] Mine are waffles, so you can think all sorts of different ways. Be creative, do whatever you want, because
Izzy: [00:32:58] So another very Brazilian dessert is called cocada. So it’s like coconut and like caramelized sugar. And then you just kind of make it into, it can be as chewy or as crisp as you want. So the one bottom part would be cocada, but then the top part would be another. So vegable lekki, it’s called like kids foot. It’s a weird translation, but it’s like caramelized peanuts. But it’s like this chewy, crunchy, sweet, yet the peanuts. Yes, it would be that, cocada, the cream of lemon and lemongrass ice cream.
Soph: [00:33:33] We’re learning some Portuguese.
Izzy: [00:33:37] They’ll be like the most Brazilian like those are some things that I love
Caroline: [00:33:41] What are the name of your favorite ice cream places in Brazil, just in case we ever make it down there
Izzy: [00:33:46] Freda y Mina. So it’s two girls basically. Freda y Mina, and they’re all like super organic. They make their own cones while you’re choosing your ice cream. Like making their own cones in house. And they have this, like, manifesto on their wallets, like we believe in little pleasures of life. And then there’s like a whole list of like sitting in the park on a beautiful day, like making it pour over coffee and all these like very they’re not niche. But like, if you live in Brazil, everyone’s like, oh yeah. They like start ticking off the list and they use just very fresh seasonal flavors. So that’s like one of my favorites. And then yeah, I tried another. I think it’s like a new gelato place called Pine Cove. They had like a matcha flavor gelato, which is excellent. And they have like a handful of vegan flavors. So if you just want to tell the team nutritionist, then you’re going to take a healthy snack and go get some vegan ice cream.
Caroline: [00:34:39] Those are great answers. Thank you. Really appreciate it. For the most part, everyone is shocked and surprised when we asked the ice cream question and then they’re like, wow, I really love ice cream. Like, how am I going to make this?
Izzy: [00:34:53] My favorite, favorite Brazilian little treat.. No, I can’t. I can’t list favorites because there are so many. But it’s called posoka. So it’s made with like ground peanuts and some sugar. And they compacted it into like a little square that’s like a little crunchy, but it wouldn’t make a good cookie. So I didn’t know how to fit that in. But if you ever hear of a posoka, you have to try it.
Caroline: [00:35:16] Thank you.
Izzy: [00:35:18] You’re welcome.
Caroline: [00:35:19] Well, Izzy, it has been really fun talking with you and learning more about you, your journey to Brazil and just how you fell in love with your second sport of rugby.
Izzy: [00:35:31] No, it was great. Thank you for the invite. Excellent questions. I really enjoyed our conversation. If you guys ever come down to Brazil, hopefully when (looks over to side) Majorie is like pretending to work.. When she hears this, she won’t be too upset with me. She’s a lovely person. She didn’t know that we were going to fall in love. She didn’t treat me poorly.
Caroline: [00:35:52] She was like, that’s not how it was.
Izzy: [00:35:56] But the funny part is like, oh, that’s totally it was.
Caroline: [00:36:01] Thanks, Izzy, for joining us on the podcast, we love talking with you. This might be one of my favorite conversations that we’ve had just because it was so chill and relax and just felt like we were friends with Izzy right from the get go.
Soph: [00:36:15] She was awesome. Izzy is super down to earth and cool and incredibly intelligent and speaks her mind, which I love. My favorite parts of the conversation was just how she goes with the flow of life. And timing is.. Kept coming up as like this crazy thing. And you just never know what’s going to show up and when it’ll show up for you and whether that’s how rugby came into her life, how her wife came into life, like all these things come unexpectedly and she just went with the flow. And I kind of take that with me a little bit of, I could go with the flow a little bit more. I can just allow things to happen as they’re supposed to happen. And she was awesome to talk to.
Caroline: [00:36:53] I loved hearing about how now she has a lot more shared experiences with their parents because she has been living in Brazil and has experienced more of the culture and just the way of life. She can talk more in Portuguese with their parents and with their siblings and just with her family. And so she’s been able to connect on a deeper level, even if maybe in the beginning it seemed like a crazy dream. But people supported her in that, especially even on her go fund me page that she had to create in order to get the money to fly down there and to start her dream chasing. She’s definitely made it. I’m really excited to watch women’s rugby in the Tokyo Games this summer.
Soph: [00:37:32] Oh, yeah, that’s going to be super exciting. And especially because we know her.
Caroline: [00:37:35] Yes,
Soph: [00:37:35] Like that’ll be awesome to watch the Olympics and be like, oh my God, I know her. That’ll be super cool. And they just recently played in the Emirates Invitational 7s. It’s a small tournament, I think like six or seven teams were there.
Caroline: [00:37:47] And yeah, that was our first tournament, about a year.
Soph: [00:37:50] Super cool. Well, thank you so much for coming on. It was such a fun conversation. Any time you want to do that and just hang out and get to know each other even more. If you want to follow her, all the links and all the information and stuff will be in the transcription as always. So please check it out. And for those of you who do read it, I appreciate you. It takes a lot of time for us to edit and transcribe and do all of the things to make this podcast the best that we can possibly make it as two total amateurs at it. So,
Caroline: [00:38:16] Hey!
Soph: [00:38:16] We appreciate you listening and and hope you enjoyed this conversation with Izzy.
Caroline: [00:38:21] Forward Progress is produced by Caroline Mattise with a little help from Sophia Lewin.
Soph: [00:38:26] True.
Caroline: [00:38:26] And is brought to you by best available player. Find more podcasts, articles and video content related to sports and entertainment on bestavailableplayer.com. All the music in this podcast is by James Barrett, a good friend and an even better musician. Be sure to check him out on your favorite music streaming platform. And because we’re all about inclusivity and accessibility, each podcast of Forward Progress will be transcribed and available on bestavailableplayer.com.