Olympic Hopeful Alev Kelter: Rugby is ‘Safer Than Everything I’ve Played’

Alev Kelter
Alev Kelter  USOC/NBC Olympics

Talk about athletic! Alev Kelter has excelled at many sports over the years, but finally found the perfect fit with rugby — which returns to the Olympics this summer for the first time since 1924.

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Kelter, 25, found rugby almost two years ago through a friend she used to play flag football with. “[My now-teammate Lorrie Clifford] talked to the coach about playing rugby and he said, ‘Do you know any other athletes?’ And she said, ‘Yes, I do, twins from Alaska. Do you mind giving them a call?’ So he called me up while I was snowboarding in Alaska, and I came down to the Olympic training center in Chula Vista for five days. And then after that it was history,” she tells Us Weekly

Kelter — whose twin sister, Derya, did not end up playing rugby — had most recently been playing ice hockey, and was in contention for the 2014 Sochi Olympics in the sport.

The Alaska native had always dreamed of going to the Olympics, but was never totally sure which sport would get her there.

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“I had a dream of playing my first Olympics in hockey and then doing summer Olympics for soccer,” says Kelter, who has been on three national teams (soccer, hockey and rugby). “I never thought rugby, but it’s an amazing sport and the camaraderie and the teamwork that it takes to be on the field is immense, because you’re literally throwing your body around for each other. You have to have a lot of trust and a lot of connections.”

Alev Kelter
Alev Kelter USOC/NBC Olympics

While the athlete had never played rugby before, she had always been interested in the sport. “I’d seen it a couple times and I was kind of jealous, but I wasn’t able to play because my mom was like, ‘Oh, I didn’t want you getting hurt,’” she explains. “It’s definitely safer than everything I’ve played. … Actually I’d say soccer is a little bit more safe than rugby, but I was pretty aggressive playing soccer and I got a lot of penalties, so playing rugby is just the perfect combination.”

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It seems like Kelter, who graduated with a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin, is good at everything, but she swears she’s not.

“I’m not good at sewing!” she says with a laugh. “I’m not good at golf. I’m not good at volleyball — there’s a lot I’m not good at!”

To learn more about all the Olympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.org. The Olympics begin on August 5 and will be streamed live on NBCOlympics.com and NBC Sports Live Extra. 

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