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Makayla Lowe Named New Lander Univ Head Coach

  • 01 Jun 2024
Makayla Lowe rugby

GREENWOOD — On Friday, Lander University Director of Athletics Brian Reese announced the hiring of Makayla Lowe as the new Bearcat women’s rugby coach.

“We are excited to have Makayla lead our women’s rugby program,” said Reese. “She is a rising star in the industry and we can’t wait for her to get started.”

“Thank you, Athletic Director Brian Reese, for giving me this opportunity,” Lowe responded. “I’m ready to unite with you and the athletic department to continue building excellence at Lander University. I’ve met many of the administrators and coaches. They are top-notch professionals with winning attitudes and have been extremely welcoming. We will continue to work towards bringing more championships to Lander while developing our student-athletes to be successful on and off the pitch.”

Lowe started her rugby career with McMinn County High School. Those were the days of Buck Billings, the head coach who took the Tribe on the road to experience life and rugby outside of Athens, Tenn. During his tenure, he took McMinn to high school 15s nationals, where players took their opportunities to attract attention from college scouts and beyond. Lowe had distinguished herself in the pack and was getting next-level exposure with the then-named High School All-Americans as well as Scion. Life University Women’s Rugby founder Ros Chou took note and welcomed Lowe to Marietta, Ga., in fall 2017 as a DI Elite student athlete. Lowe remained in that high-performance, high-achieving environment until 2023, when she graduated with a master’s degree in exercise science.

Lowe joined the Queens University of Charlotte Women’s Rugby coaching staff ahead of the 2023-24 school year, and funneled her expertise into the forwards as assistant coach. While in North Carolina with the DI NCAA varsity program, the Royals’ winning lineout percentage improved from 65% to 90%, and the scrum success from 70% to 80%.

Lowe now joins DII NCAA varsity Lander University as the women’s rugby head coach, and the move to Greenwood, S.C., is also a full-circle moment. Billings is the Director of Rugby and men’s head coach, and the McMinn Tribe alums will reunite on the other side of the clipboard.

“Thank you to Coach Rosalind Chou for your constant mentorship, support, and for pushing me to where I am today,” Lowe traced her path to Lander. “Thank you to Coach Buck Billings for introducing me to rugby and for always having my back throughout my high school and collegiate years. I am looking forward to working alongside you.”

The Lander athletic department added women’s rugby in fall 2019, and the Bearcats joined DII NIRA in fall 2021. Last fall, the South Carolina program advanced to its first-ever NIRA championship, finishing runner-up to Davenport University. Former head coach Ken Pape has moved on and accepted a women’s rugby head coach position at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia.

“I will bring professionalism, structure, and grit,” Lowe closed. “My goal is to create an elite atmosphere. I plan to put Lander University on the map. I plan to build a foundation that is respected by USA Rugby as one that creates players to advance to that level of play or to play in the professional pathway. … Lander University is a special place, and I plan to come to work every day to give my players every opportunity to succeed in life and rugby.”

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