Medical student leads UMKC rugby team

KC Doan, MS 4, center, runs with the ball during a UMKC rugby match against Truman State University on April 12 at the Sporting KC practice facility.
KC Doan, MS 4, center, runs with the ball during a UMKC rugby match against Truman State University on April 12 at the Sporting KC practice facility.

Medical students can lose themselves in the fray of keeping up with a demanding study schedule and leading a balanced life.

KC Doan, MS 4, vice president and captain of the UMKC rugby team, has managed to be a dedicated team member and leader as he progresses in his medical training. He not only decided to continue playing sports when he started at the School of Medicine, but Doan also pioneered, along with a couple of friends, a rugby team at UMKC.

Read the following Q-and-A to get to know this medical student athlete and self-described adrenaline junky and more about UMKC rugby.

Q: When did you get started in rugby?

A: I’ve always been interested in sports. I played football, ran track and wrestled in high school.

My senior year of high school (at Lee’s Summit North), Lee’s Summit West challenged us to a football game; we were big rivals who didn’t get to play each other during the year. The coaches wouldn’t go for it, so we decided to play rugby instead. My dad played rugby all through college, so he coached our team. This was my first rugby experience, and I loved it.

Area rugby recruiters and players attended the game and convinced me to play on a local men’s team. During the summer chemistry program before my first year at the medical school, I met a UMKC student who also played rugby. We decided to start a program at UMKC.

Q: What sparked your interest in medicine?

A: My mom (Laura “Brown” Doan, M.D., ’84) is an Ob/gyn in Lee’s Summit. She’s the hardest working person I know. She definitely played a part in my decision.

What really made up my mind was watching a doctor, and father of one of my classmates, who came to all our high school football games. Dr. Frevert is an orthopaedic surgeon who goes to every football game and examines everyone when they come off the field with an injury. He just does it because he’s a nice guy, and he enjoys sports. I thought if I could be like that guy when I grow up, I would lead a pretty cool life.

I would really like to do ortho someday.

Q: The obvious question is ‘how do you find time to be so involved in a sport?’

A: Since I’m a leader on the team, I get to set the schedule. I always tell people, ‘you’re always going to be crunched for time. There’s never going to be enough time in the day. You have to make time for things that you like doing.’ I’ve really had to make time for rugby. A couple weeks ago, I had a game on Saturday and boards on Wednesday.

I figure I need to get some exercise at some point during the day, so I fit it in by playing rugby.

Q: How often do you practice?

A: We have two set days a week and a third optional one with a high school or men’s club team for recruiting and skills improvement.

We’re trying to be associated with some of the area high schools and some of the men’s teams, so it can be a progression from high school to college and then a team after college.

Q: What is your typical rugby season?

A: We’re in a new conference called the Gateway Collegiate Rugby Conference, which is composed of schools like Saint Louis University, the University of Central Missouri, and The Principia. Those games are in the fall, and we qualify for nationals in the spring. In 2013, we finished third in our division, and the top two go to nationals.

During the spring season, we play friendly matches with teams we don’t get to play in the fall. We don’t travel as much as we do in the fall. During the summer, we join sevens teams and travel a lot. We have a couple months off in the winter and summer, but usually I’m practicing during those months.

Q: Why is it important to you to be involved in a sport?

A: It keeps me a normal person. I know a lot of people in medicine. Your social interactions change drastically when all you do is study medicine. Playing a sport and having hobbies like this keep me grounded. My friends are constantly telling me, ‘KC stop with the medicine for a second.’ A guy will hurt his knee, and I will be down there doing some tests on him. This is great, but you just have to know when to turn it off.

Q: Will you continue to be involved in sports beyond graduation?

A: I would like to always be involved in sports some how. That’s why I’m looking into orthopaedics and working with sports teams.

I know I can’t continue playing rugby forever. I get pretty beat up. I broke my jaw last year during pharmacology. I had to eat and drink through a straw and answer questions without opening my mouth.

I also like to do other extreme sports – snow boarding, wake boarding, skateboarding, rock climbing – and I want to keep those up. I’m a little bit of an adrenaline junky.

Q: What are your goals for the team?

A: My main goal with the rugby team is to have it be something that continues even after I’m gone because I have taken a pretty big role in it. Over the past year, I’ve been really trying to involve a lot of the new kids in what I’ve been doing.

Right now, we’re on track to be a varsity sport at UMKC. If they can keep that up, then it’ll be a great success.