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Athena Aitken


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Year Inducted



Athena Aitken was born and raised in Northern Minnesota and is a member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. In her high school years she was a tri-sport athlete competing at varsity level in volleyball, track and field, and golf.

At age 16 during a Student Ambassador trip to New Zealand and Australia, Aitken fell in love with the sport of rugby and decided to play in college.

Beginning her rugby career at Colorado State University, she played as a utility forward for two seasons before transferring to a university closer to home. Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM) had a thriving women's club rugby team where Athena played as a tight-five forward for four years.

In 2012 after graduating from MSUM with a Bachelors in Anthropology, Aitken wanted to stay involved with rugby since most collegiate clubs at the time were player-led and coached. She took the USA Rugby coaching certification and became a volunteer coach for MSUM Women's Rugby.

In her first year coaching the team reached their second-ever post season playoff game, but lost. The next year the team progressed to regionals before taking their first loss of the season. In 2014 MSUM Women made their first appearance at Nationals in New Jersey, placing third. 2015 saw the team win every game they played, culminating in a National Championship title in South Carolina.

Since their title the MSUM Women's team has enjoyed post season play to the regional level every year, in addition to their appearances at Nationals in Georgia in 2018 and 2019 placing fourth and third respectively.

Aitken takes pride in teaching the bruising sport of rugby to collegiate athletes that have never seen or heard of the sport. In all her years at MSUM she has coached a total of two players with previous rugby experience. With such a short time to teach new players an entirely new game she has to lean on their previous sports experience and empower them with physical and mental tools to succeed.

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