Arizona hosts GHSAAs powered by ATAVUS

CASA GRANDE, Ariz. - USA Rugby Girls High School All-Americans powered by ATAVUS Head Coach Farrah Douglas held a regional camp at Grande Sports Academy Jan. 15-18.

The West Winter Camp, which precedes the East Winter Camp to be held at the National Training Center in Clermont, Fla., Feb. 12-15, saw 37 young athletes train with the national team staff before finishing the assembly with a Monday morning match.

The GHSAAs had their first tours in both 15s and sevens in 2015, with one of two sevens teams winning its Las Vegas Invitational division while the 15s team swept BC Rugby U18 Women's in a two-match series north of the border. Using players identified through the USA Rugby Stars and Stripes Camp, as well as the Regional Cup Tournaments, the early 2016 assemblies allow the coaching staff to get an extra look at players with pathway aspirations.

"The overall purpose of the GHSAA Winter Camps is identifying and assessing players within the HSAA pool and then further developing select or high-performing players through additional training and international competition against Canadian teams," Douglas said.

The GHSAA coaching staff in Arizona was rounded out by assistants Emilie Bydwell, Anna Kunkel, and Ricardo Ramirez - each of whom have coached at the Stars and Stripes Camp - as well as physiotherapist Ashley Cowan. In addition to her rugby knowledge as an Eagle and Rugby World Cup Sevens bronze medalist, Bydwell, who is also the head of rugby programming at ATAVUS, has witnessed first-hand the play of HSAA-eligible athletes from around the country at USA Rugby Academy camps.

Most of the athletes that attended the Casa Grande assembly are new to the pathway, but there were a few attendees that suited up for the GHSAAs in their inaugural competitions, bringing somewhat of a "veteran" presence to the group to aid the coaching staff.

"As we continue to build the program, having experienced players - like Lily Durbin and Emily Prentice - around is extremely important," Douglas said. "These players are team leaders and bring up the competition level of the group. And, as a role model for their peers, they provide the newer players with a real-time perspective on expectations and what being a part of the pathway means.

"Through assessing these veteran players, the GHSAA coaching staff is able to see how we can continue to improve our program to better prepare our players for continued success in the pathway."

Following the East Winter Camp in Florida, Douglas and the GHSAA coaching staff will be able to finalize athlete availability for upcoming tours pre-Stars and Stripes, which includes a sevens appearance at the Vancouver Rugby Festival alongside the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series' sixth leg.

Girls High School All-Americans powered by ATAVUS | West Winter Camp

First name Last Name Position Club/School
Destiny Arena Hooker Fallbrook Girls Rugby Club
Cassidy Bargell Scrum half Summit High School
Jennifer Bergquist-Turori Lock Fallbrook Girls Rugby Club
Mckenzie Borchers Center Kingwood Rugby Club
Mireille Codjia Lock Fullerton Lady Lions
Lily Durbin Full back / Fly half Fallbrook Girls Rugby Club
Natalie Gray Back row Summit High School
Julia Haigh Scrum half Fallbrook Girls Rugby Club
Haley Harris Lock Valkyries Girls Rugby (TRIBE)
Mata Hingano Center Danville Oaks
Asinaulu Holika Center Hilo Reign Rugby Club
Addison Horsley Back row United Girls Rugby
Sabrina Kim Wing Pleasanton Cavaliers
Karolina Kincinaite Lock Summit High School
Kiana Leiataua Fly half Chaparral Wolverines
Mililani Leui Back row South Bay
Caroline Lomu Prop Danville Oaks
Jodi Losch Back row / Hooker Summit High School
Lolohea Makaafi Back row Kent Crusader
Taylor Makowski Lock Northside Lady Dragons
Grace Martin Prop Pleasanton Cavaliers
Naomi Mintzer Prop Fullerton Lady Lions
Hannah Moran Prop North Penn Valkyries
McKay Peisley Fly half United Girls Rugby
Marin Pennell Scrum half Summit High School
Emily Prentice Hooker Kent Crusader
Meg Rose Fly half / Center Summit High School
Hannah Savin Center Fallbrook Girls Rugby Club
Charity Tenney Center / Wing Orem
Penina Tuilaepa Prop Kent Crusader
Victoria Tuli Prop Kent Crusader
Selena Tuliaepa Center Chaparral Wolverines/ Colorado Flatirons
Alaina Valenciano Scrum half Rainier Highlander Junior Rugby Club
Brianna Vasquez Full back / Wing Fallbrook Girls Rugby Club
Nicole Wantlin Back row Fullerton Lady Lions
Samantha Zamarripa Prop Rio Linda
Emily Zhai Center UW Women's Rugby Club