Women’s Eagles prepare for Can-Am Series with camps

BOULDER, Colo. -- For the final time in 2014, the Women’s Eagles will assemble in smaller groups at various locations across the country to continue national team training. Camps in Harrisonburg, Va., and Palo Alto, Calif., will serve as the final mini-assemblies for the team before several international fixtures and the Top-50 Camp take place.

With 64 players currently in the player pool, having all of the athletes available and in one location is a difficult obstacle for the team to overcome, but it is essential in preparing for a World Cup.

“This weekend will be a big weekend for us,” Eagles Head Coach Pete Steinberg said. “It is the last assembly we have before the Can-Am series, so it is critical for team growth.”

While Steinberg is behind having his players in one location at one time, the move to have separate camps came in order to help the players with their professional careers.

“We are sacrificing some funding to save the players some days off from work,” said Steinberg. “The camp will save the players three days off and considering the days they will need to ask for later in the year, it is definitely worthwhile.”

For players, they too are excited about the close proximity and fewer days away from daily requirements.

“It’s incredibly convenient,” said Hope Rogers, a full-time college student at Penn State. “Especially because I need to take 10 days off for the Can-Am series and am already making up work for that.”

If it were not for two locations, attendance would be difficult for some, as well.

“If it weren’t just a weekend and somewhere relatively close, it would probably be to the point where I wouldn’t be able to go,” Rogers said. “I have student teaching, a huge class load and a job, so missing only a day or two is still a lot of work to make up.”

However, with the travel arrangements out of mind for the athletes, focus for the weekend’s schedule becomes very clear: preparing the team for the Can-Am series.

“This weekend should be about preparing for the Can-Am series in April,” said Kate Daley. “I think what’s going to be most important to everyone is lots of reps and feeling like we are executing everything we need to competently and under pressure.”

Not only is Steinberg looking to prepare the players for the Can-Am series following this weekend, but the coaching staff, as well.

“We are also looking to do some coach development,” noted Steinberg. “Johnathan [Atkeison] will help out with the forwards, Rich Ashfield will help out with the backs, and we hope to have Danielle Miller (USA Rugby AIG Women’s Junior All-Americans head coach) join us [at the Can-Am series] as she is just across the water.”

As for the weekend’s schedule at the camp, a lot of room is available for player and coach growth.

Four practice sessions, two gym sessions, and several meetings have been crammed into the 48 hours in which the players will be at the camp. Fitness testing will also be conducted throughout the weekend in order to track player development and adjust programs accordingly.

“The goal is to review our approaches to play, work on key technical areas that can help us perform better, and try some new things to see how they work,” said Steinberg.

At the conclusion of the camp, the Women’s Eagles will stand two weeks from its series against Canada. The team will travel to Vancouver April 11 to begin its 10-day tour.

Games against Canada are scheduled for April 15 and 19. Shawnigan Lake School in Mill Bay, British Columbia, will host the first match with Westhills Stadium in Langford, British Columbia, being the site of the second contest.

The Can-Am series is being used by the Women’s Eagles as its first matches in preparation for the IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014. The World Cup will take place August 1-17 in Paris, France.

Support the Women’s Eagles in their quest for the ‘Final in ’14’ by following the team on Facebook and Twitter (@USAWomenEagles).