WCU Cultivates Leaders, Thinkers & Doers
During her second week at West Chester University, Juah Toe checked out the Student Involvement Fair and promptly signed up for the women's rugby team. No matter that she had never played the sport before, this lifelong athlete wanted to try something new. Unlike many of the University's other athletic teams, rugby doesn't have tryouts or cuts.
Toe went to two practices, then hopped on a bus for the first game at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. At that point, she was just getting a handle on rugby's complex and often arcane rules. So when Head Rugby Coach Tony Deremer pulled her aside at half time and asked if she wanted to play, Toe was momentarily taken aback. But, true to her nature, she jumped in — and played so well that Deremer kept her in for the entire 40-minute half.
Now, as a senior psychology major, Toe is not only co-captain of WCU's rugby team but was recently named to the Women's Collegiate All-Americans, which consists of the best female college rugby players nationwide.
Off the rugby pitch, Toe is a member of the Honors College and serves as sports & rec director for the Honors Student Association, is secretary of the Abbé Society, works as a desk assistant in Goshen, picked up a minor in civic and professional leadership, and is helping to organize a 5K to promote positive mental health in student athletes. She wants to be a sport psychologist and is conducting research with WCU sports medicine professor Lindsey Keenan. She interned in the field this summer and will continue the internship this semester.
Oh, yeah, and she currently holds a 3.911 GPA.
The secret to her success? Boundless energy for sure, but beyond that Toe possesses unshakeable confidence. "You should always take every opportunity that comes your way, even if you are unsure of it," says Toe. "If doesn't work out, at least you tried."
Toe's self-confidence should not be confused with self-absorption.
Deremer says that Toe's first thoughts are for others: "One thing that stands out to me about Juah is her selflessness and caring for other people. Whether it's planning pre-game dinners for her teammates, giving rugby balls to kids in South Africa during her study abroad with the Honors College, volunteering to plant trees in the Borough, or making sure team recruits have a host for the night, Juah always finds time and resources for others."
With so much going on in her life, Toe is meticulous about keeping her online calendar up to date in 15- and 20-minute increments. During the academic year, her calendar can be filled as early as 7 a.m. and as late as 2 a.m. the next day. "But every once in a while, like on Thursdays, when we don't have practice, I decompress," says Toe. "I'll take an hour and just lie in bed, drink tea, and watch Youtube videos…"
"Usually of rugby games," she adds, revealing that even in her downtime Toe doesn't switch things off entirely.
Despite a daily schedule that is studied and deliberate, it was serendipity that led Toe to West Chester, much like serendipity led her to rugby. "I initially thought I'd prefer a smaller college but it turned out that WCU is the perfect size," she says. "There may be 17,500 of us but there's a real feeling of connection. The WCU community is so welcoming and it's easy to get involved and find your niche. I can't imagine being anywhere else."