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 nameLast NamePositionClub/School
DestinyArenaHookerFallbrook Girls Rugby Club
CassidyBargellScrum halfSummit High School
JenniferBergquist-TuroriLockFallbrook Girls Rugby Club
MckenzieBorchersCenterKingwood Rugby Club
MireilleCodjiaLockFullerton Lady Lions
LilyDurbinFull back / Fly halfFallbrook Girls Rugby Club
NatalieGrayBack rowSummit High School
JuliaHaighScrum halfFallbrook Girls Rugby Club
HaleyHarrisLockValkyries Girls Rugby (TRIBE)
MataHinganoCenterDanville Oaks
AsinauluHolikaCenterHilo Reign Rugby Club
AddisonHorsleyBack rowUnited Girls Rugby
SabrinaKimWingPleasanton Cavaliers
KarolinaKincinaiteLockSummit High School
KianaLeiatauaFly halfChaparral Wolverines
MililaniLeuiBack rowSouth Bay
CarolineLomuPropDanville Oaks
JodiLoschBack row / HookerSummit High School
LoloheaMakaafiBack rowKent Crusader
TaylorMakowskiLockNorthside Lady Dragons
GraceMartinPropPleasanton Cavaliers
NaomiMintzerPropFullerton Lady Lions
HannahMoranPropNorth Penn Valkyries
McKayPeisleyFly halfUnited Girls Rugby
MarinPennellScrum halfSummit High School
EmilyPrenticeHookerKent Crusader
MegRoseFly half / CenterSummit High School
HannahSavinCenterFallbrook Girls Rugby Club
CharityTenneyCenter / WingOrem
PeninaTuilaepaPropKent Crusader
VictoriaTuliPropKent Crusader
SelenaTuliaepaCenterChaparral Wolverines/ Colorado Flatirons
AlainaValencianoScrum halfRainier Highlander Junior Rugby Club
BriannaVasquezFull back / WingFallbrook Girls Rugby Club
NicoleWantlinBack rowFullerton Lady Lions
SamanthaZamarripaPropRio Linda
EmilyZhaiCenterUW Women's Rugby Club