Quinnipiac rugby star represents Team USA at the Olympics

July 29, 2021

Illana Maher

Ilona Maher ’18 helped lead Quinnipiac to back-to-back-to-back women’s rugby national championships. This week, she helped Team USA advance to the Quarterfinals in the Olympics.

Maher made an impressive Olympic debut, when she and Team USA:

  • defeated China, 28-14, Wednesday night ET,

  • defeated Japan, 17-7, early Thursday morning ET and qualified for the quarterfinals, and

  • defeated Australia, 14-12, Thursday night ET earning the No. 1 seed in the quarterfinals.

Maher left an indelible mark at Quinnipiac, having earned the award for the national player of the year, named to the NIRA All-American team and voted Quinnipiac female athlete of the year. She also excels in field hockey, basketball and soccer.

“It’s an amazing feeling to be able to compete on the world stage,” said Maher, who earned a nursing degree at Quinnipiac.

Maher, who has played rugby for seven years, said she is committed to making her country and family proud.

“Quinnipiac Rugby shaped me into the athlete I am today,” she said. “The 6 a.m. lifts and competitive environments allowed me to thrive and grow. It prepared me by putting me in high-pressure situations and helped me to figure out ways to remain productive.”

She said rugby has helped her to excel off the field, too.

“Rugby has given me so much confidence and makes me feel like my body has a purpose and is beautiful,” Maher said.

She encouraged others to live their dreams.

“It takes hard work and dedication,” Maher said. “But, remember, being an athlete is not only who you are. Balance athletics and having fun and making other memories.

Can't get enough of Maher? Join millions of others in connecting with her on TikTok

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