Stars, Stripes teams set for Wednesday matches in Greeley

Despite lightning causing a half-hour delay in the afternoon training sessions, the second annual Stars and Stripes Camp at the University of Northern Colorado began with smiles, professionalism, and eye-opening talent Monday.

Forty-eight boys and 45 girls chosen from six Regional All-Star Tournaments arrived in Greeley, Colo., during the weekend and got to work Monday with a morning training session, afternoon session, and pool session. The young athletes were grouped into Stars and Stripes teams after the combined morning session, making for a more centralized afternoon approach with the Stars and Stripes match scheduled for Wednesday.

There is no easy way to split players in an all-star-like environment to get immediate cohesion, but the 12 coaches selected for the Stars and Stripes Camp are more than making due with the talent available.

"It's challenging," Colin Puriri of United Rugby said of dealing with the hodge-podge of players in Camp. Puriri is the Boys Stars head coach. "First off, I haven't had eyes on these boys before, but the selectors have done a good job. The group they gave me plays to a level of rugby that's where it's supposed to be at this level, which makes it easier to put a team together."

Some of the high school athletes in Greeley will go back to their school and/or club teams after the Stars and Stripes Camp hungry for more national team training opportunities, while others will begin preseason football or workouts for another sport. For Puriri and the rest of the Stars and Stripes Camp coaching staffs, getting each player to take that next step in their rugby career is near the top of the priority list.

"If we can give them an exciting event, I think it will help get them on the pathway to sticking with rugby for those who are on the fence," Puriri said. "For those not on the fence, we'll see if we can push them a little bit more. We want to see a quality game Wednesday, and we want to reinforce that to get them to play at a higher level."

The players are not the only ones in camp this week. USA Rugby AIG Women's Junior All-American Head Coach Danielle Miller and Girls High School All-American Head Coach Mollie McCarthy are also on hand to assist the USA Rugby Coach Development department with observations and feedback for the coaching staffs.

Miller, who was unable to attend last year's Camp due to the IRB U20 Nations Cup in England, is enjoying the Camp thus far as both a coach educator and national team coach.

"My experience so far is that we have a great group of coaches who are really open-minded and willing to take on the developmental aspect that this camp is geared around, which is fantastic," she said.

As an All-American coach, Miller knows all too well the difficulties in putting together a team of players from around the country in a short timespan.

"You have to find a team culture and mesh it together quickly," Miller said. "If your goal one day is to coach a national team, this high-stress, short timeframe environment where they have to create a team out of nothing is creating the right environment for them to develop themselves into better coaches.

"I get about eight contact days a year and have to play two games in that span; and every year it changes. I think the Stars and Stripes Camp provides an environment for those coaches who have those goals and aspirations. This is the right coaching environment for that."

All four teams will finalize game-day squads for Wednesday's matches, which kick off at 8:40 A.M. MT (girls) and 10:00 A.M. MT (boys) at the University of Colorado. Click here to visit the Stars and Stripes Camp page. Show your support of the players and join the social media conversation on Twitter and Instagram with the #SvSRugby hashtag.

Boys StarsBoys StripesGirls StarsGirls Stripes
Matt BrennanMalon Al JibooriDaja CurtisAshlee Byrge
Ollie BrookinsBryce BeckLillie DarrSheila Decker
Bobby ButchofskyRyan BradfieldAli DecraneLily Durbin
Jamie GillanJustin BrownTess FeuryRachel Finch
James GlavinJack CaseyHanna GarciaEllie Fromstein
Renzo Gonzales PesceAndrew FraczekAlana GirardinMcKenzie Hawkins
Somtochukwu IromuanyaMateo GowlandRenee GonzalesHedvig Karlsson
Austin LaGowCormac HeaneyKaree HelgersonGrace Kiraly
Wyatt LattyAntonio JablonskiMata HinganoHaley Langan
Dom LindstromGary JonesJoie KrahlingMaya Learned
Ryan LittlegeorgeNick KwasniewskiPaige KrahlingIlona Maher
Michael MarinoAedan ManganHannah LewandowskiAz Nalbandian
Connor MarshAlex MaughanMeghan MackayAshley Rolsma
Camden McGregorMatthew MinerMichel NavarroBecca Jane Rosko
David MershonSean O'NeillKate PaysonEmily Roskopf
Yoh NakayamaChayce PannellEmily PrenticeCaitie Sands
Christopher NilsonConnor PlumbKat RamageFrankie Sands
Mason PedersenNoah SchraderAnnemarie ReidAndrew Sarabria
Trevor RothhaasNick SeimensLindsay SongerJordan Stewart
Courtland SmithKris SheckelsFina Toetu'uSuli Tausinga
Manny SotoKellen ShockleyCaitlin WeigelAbby Tobias
Matthew WilliamsGarrett SoileauLily WeldonDanielle Walko Sui
Luke WomackChance WenglewskiElizabeth Wilson 
Kevin WooNikko Zuluaga