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Former Wauwatosa East student Jane Paar tried a multitude of sports in high school but didn't really find what she wanted until she got involved with rugby. However, when it came to her future, the 2007 graduate knew exactly where she was going.
"I dabbled in sports," said Paar, who graduated from the United States Naval Academy in May and has been accepted into the United States Marine Corps. "I swam, I dove, I played lacrosse, ice hockey, but there was no sport I loved. I played soccer and swimming my whole life. I got sick of it. But I was in good shape."
Then a friend introduced her to a 'cool sport' in Brookfield, and she played her junior and senior years. Paar not only enjoyed rugby, but she was good at it.
She was certain she wanted to join the military, specifically the Marines, since her freshman year.
"There are a lot of opportunities to do anything in the military," Paar said.
Paar was a member of the Milwaukee Composite Squadron of the No. 5 Civil Air Patrol during her high school career and received several honors for her performance.
She used her athletic skills to receive the Commander's Sword in 2006, the top honor at the Wisconsin Cadet Academy boot camp in 2006 where she outperformed officers of a high rank, making the award unprecedented.
After an extensive and comprehensive application process, she was accepted into Vermont Academy, one of the foundation programs for the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, after graduating from Tosa East in 2007. She received full tuition and funding for her education at Vermont Academy to prepare her for the rigors of the Naval Academy.
While at the Naval Academy, Paar started on the rugby team since her freshman year, being named captain as a junior and senior. She was also named president, since rugby was a club team run by students, and she was in charge of the budget and planning.
"I had a big staff," Paar said, "It was a good learning experience."
After graduating from the Naval Academy this spring, Paar had planned on spending two weeks with the Olympic Rugby Team in Colorado. She was hoping to make the team and be eligible for the 2016 Olympic Rugby Team in Rio de Janeiro, but she sustained a knee injury during Marine Corps training.
Paar explained the types of rugby teams that were available.
"There are 15 players on each side, and you play for 80 minutes," she said. "In the U.S., we have 7-on-7, and each game is 14 minutes, but we play multiple games in one day."
There could still be a happy ending for Paar, since her coach Rick Suggit coaches the 7's, a team headed to England and Amsterdam in the next six months.
"He works with players, knows the Marines and knows I will be in training for the next six months and I couldn't attend," said Paar, who has basic training and then officer training. "The U.S. Olympic Training Center is in Chula Vista, Calif. and that's were the rugby team will be training. The next step is to prepare for the World Cup."
Paar pointed out that the Marines have a National Athletes Program which might make her available to train with the rugby team and be eligible for the next Olympics. Having military players on these teams is high visibility and great for recruiting.
Paar did point out that currently, the Marines rugby team is all male.
"But they are trying to get it (a woman's team) started," she added.
Jane's parents - Michael and Peggy Saxby Paar - still live in Wauwatosa.
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