Photo: Team photo of Dominican Republic women's 7s rugby team

The former Cadets captain suits up for the Dominican Republic national team.

The Norwich Record | Winter 2019

WHAT PROMISING YOUNG ATHLETE doesn’t dream of playing for their country one day, dressed in their nation’s colors during international competition?

Denisse Zambon ’18, a former captain of the Norwich women’s Division I rugby team, recently lived that dream, representing her native Dominican Republic on its 7s national team at the 2018 Rugby Americas North Sevens Cham¬pionships in Barbados in September.

“It was an extraordinary and humbling experience to have the chance to play for my home country,” says Zambon, who helped the D.R. place fifth overall in the 10-team tournament.

Leading her teammates in scoring over six games, the wing/center made three tries and nine conversions for a team-high 33 points, efforts that earned her All-Tournament team honors.

Zambon helped the D.R. defeat Barbados 38-0 and Mexico 14-5, before tying Guyana to close out pool play on the first day of the tournament.

On day two, her team lost 12-7 to Saint Lucia, before rallying to beat Bermuda and Bahamas in its final two games to close the tournament with a 4-1-1 record and the Plate trophy.

At Norwich, Zambon enjoyed a successful four-year career for the Maroon and Gold and was a team captain two years running. Ranked among the team’s leading try scorers in every season she competed, Zambon was named a National Intercollegiate Rugby Asso-ciation (NIRA) All-American after her senior season.

“I gained a lot of valuable experience during my senior year as a captain, and that has helped transform me into a leader on the Dominican Republic National team,” Zambon says.

She was also the first female athlete to receive the Chris Munn Rugby Scholarship. The award is presented each year to a returning men’s or women’s rugby player, who demonstrates leadership, courage, and dedication, both on and off the pitch. The scholarship is named after Chris Munn ’81, an NU rugby alum who has battled ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease) since 2013.

“I’m so happy for Denisse and her opportunity to represent the Dominican Republic on the international stage,” says Austin Hall, head coach of the Norwich women’s rugby team. “She epitomizes everything we try to do in the Norwich rugby program. She’s a work-rate player, who has developed elite technical skills through self-discipline and determination.”

Hall says Zambon’s positive attitude will enable her continued success and that her opportunities will continue to grow. At this writing, Zambon was applying to graduate school at American University and NYU, where she hopes to start a master’s program in international relations or translation in January.

Norwich University Perspectives Project: COVID-19

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