Paige Barta scores her goal of attending a service academy

Elsa Block

Committing to a Division I (DI) school is a challenging feat for many student-athletes and a major accomplishment for those who achieve it. According to Recruit Look, only 6.8 percent of high school students are added to a college roster each year. At the end of June 2022, senior Paige Barta verbally committed to the United States Military Academy at West Point to play DI women’s rugby. 

Happy to be alongside a future teammate, Barta visits West Point. (Photo courtesy of Paige Barta)

Growing up, Barta played a variety of sports, including soccer, softball and basketball. Once she got to high school, she decided to focus on soccer and has continued to play throughout her four years. However, a year and a half ago Barta had lost some of her passion for the sport and decided to try something new — rugby. 

“I became tired of playing soccer, it being the only sport I played [in high school]. I wanted to try rugby and started playing a year and a half ago. I got really into it, and it also helped me appreciate soccer again,” Barta said.

Getting into the sport was easy for Barta. The positive environment, mixed with her naturally competitive nature, created a pipeline for success.

“I have always wanted to develop myself and be the best at whatever I am doing. Starting rugby was just another part of that; I really fell in love with it,” Barta said. “I love watching rugby, I love the community of rugby, I love the atmosphere of rugby. All the girls that I have met [through rugby], as well as my coaches, have really inspired me to push myself as hard as I can to be the best that I can.”


Barta’s calm attitude has been helpful as remaining calm is an important aspect of the sport. 

At school, Barta poses for a photo.

When Barta began playing rugby, she started out at a club called Marin Highlanders. The club’s coach, Kevin Sullivan, came into contact with the women’s rugby coach at West Point this past spring and encouraged the program to look at Barta. In the spring, Barta had a second phone call with the team’s coach and was offered to play beginning in her freshman year of college. 

At a July rugby showcase held in Utah, Barta was scouted by the West Point coaches. In October, Barta had her first official visit with West Point and immediately fell in love with the atmosphere.

“During my first visit with the team, I immediately felt at home. The coach and I clicked so fast and by our second conversation, I just felt such a connection between the two of us. Especially since I’ve wanted to go to West Point since eighth grade, I feel like this was meant to be,” Barta said. 

“When playing rugby, you need to have controlled chaos. You need someone to be chaotic, and you need someone to be calm. Barta is definitely the calm one. She is a team player and she is always focused,” Sullivan said. 

Sullivan has always been supportive of Barta and is proud of the athlete and person she is. 

“I called Barta ‘Major Paige’ before I ever knew that she wanted to serve and go to a military academy. She has always had a commanding personality, and it felt like the perfect nickname for her,” Sullivan said. “The universe works in a great way; I have always pulled for her and now I look forward to watching her play on TV”


Update: Barta’s timeline of recruitment has been edited to be more accurate. The Academy started scouting her in the spring. The phone call offering her a spot from the Academy was received in the spring. The title was also altered, as Barta’s goal is to attend a service academy. The name of the Academy was also changed to be more accurate.