Coach of the Year Awards presented in San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO - The 2015 Coach of the Year Award winners were recognized at the sixth annual USA Rugby National Development Summit Saturday, Jan. 23.
Mike Friday was rewarded for leading the Men's Eagles Sevens to their first HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Cup win and qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games with the first National Team Coach of the Year award. Mark Bullock of the Glendale Raptors Women's Premier League team, Kate Daley of Pennsylvania State University, Lee Kelly of Gonzaga High School, and Mike Purcell of University of California, Davis, also received Coach of the Year awards.
"This year's class of award-winning coaches is one of the most humble, professional groups of individuals the selection committee has had the pleasure to acknowledge," USA Rugby Coach Education Manager Kelley Sullivan said. "The rugby community is in good hands with not only these coaches, but every coach nominated, and is growing in leaps and bounds thanks to everyone behind the scenes."
Glendale's women's team won the 2014 WPL title and had a tough task to defend it against seven of the best programs in the country. In 31 matches played in the 2015 calendar year, only a fall defeat to National Championship runners-up Berkeley All Blues kept Bullock's squad from a perfect record. Also director of rugby programs for the City of Glendale, Bullock was named Senior Club Coach of the Year.
Though no longer with UC-Davis, Purcell led the Division 1AA collegiate program to a National Championship at the expense of University of Central Florida, which had won the title in each of the previous two years. Down by four points in the final 10 minutes of the Championship match, Purcell's Aggies played smart and controlled to take a late lead and see out the victory. In leading the team to an undefeated regular season and postseason - on top of his induction to the US Rugby Foundation Hall of Fame - the head coach was named Competitive Coach of the Year.
Penn State has been a powerhouse in the women's college game for some time, but Daley was able to keep the Nittany Lions' unbeaten record intact in 2015 after Women's Eagles Head Coach Pete Steinberg stepped down from the position. In addition to Division I titles in both 15s and sevens, Daley helped both of the institution's rugby programs' philanthropy and community outreach efforts. Daley was named Female Coach of the Year at the National Development Summit.
As director of rugby at Gonzaga College High School, Kelly has overseen the transformation of a small rugby program with fewer than 30 student-athletes more than a decade ago to around 220 in 2015. Outside of his work at Gonzaga, he has also helped to grow the game in the Mid-Atlantic Region, coaching youth all-star teams and founding The Rugby Academy in Virginia. Kelly was named Participation Coach of the Year at the San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront.