GHSAAs powered by ATAVUS selected for 2016 competitions

LAFAYETTE, Colo. - The Girls High School All-Americans powered by ATAVUS will venture on three tours in the final half of the year, with more than 80 young athletes set to receive international experience in 15s and the Olympic sport of Rugby Sevens.

Led by Head Coach Farrah Douglas, a GHSAA 'east' team will travel to Mount St. Mary's University for matches against Quebec's under-18s, while an under-16s team will also play two matches July 29 and July 31. In Seattle, BC Rugby's under-18s will hope for redemption Aug. 5 and Aug. 7 following last year's series win by the GHSAAs north of the border. Once fall arrives, a GHSAA sevens team will travel to Vichy, France, for Women European Championship 7s U18.

The competitive rugby season is nearing the end of its cycle, and Douglas and national team pathway scouts have been finalizing their notes from the year for age-grade selection. Student-athletes performing at the Regional Cup Tournaments in Colorado, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, and Oregon were split into 'JV' and 'Varsity' teams, something the GHSAAs are replicating in Emmitsburg, Md.

"The U16 team is geared toward the idea that we want these young players to be exposed to the beginning of the decision-making needed to compete at the senior level, and look to increase their game understanding and skill development at a younger age," Douglas said. "By focusing on developing their rugby ability through skill development and early exposure to pressured collective and individual decision-making skills, we are able to encourage these players to explore and express their athleticism within the GHSAA game structures.

"Although the aim is still looking to continue to develop players, our U18 squad is in the beginning stages of transitioning to concepts of improvement and performance. We want to develop an ongoing conversation about how to improve not just skill, but playing ability, shifting some of the focus toward the facilitation of player learning through emphasizing questioning and player engagement in the GHSAA structure."

The support of ATAVUS since late 2014 has been instrumental in allowing the team to assemble and tour multiple times a year, and the GHSAA 'west' team will be in the sponsor's backyard while the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games kick off in Brazil. The GHSAAs will be housed at Seattle University before match days out at Magnuson Park, home of ATAVUS camps and local senior clubs.

"Because we are such a large country geographically it is always tough with only five RCT events as selection venues," Douglas said. "However, the combination of the GHSAA Winter Camps and RCTs, in addition to the ATAVUS resident camps this summer, has enabled us to evaluate a larger number of high school players."

The GHSAAs first assembled for the Las Vegas Invitational sevens tournament in early 2015 before traveling to British Columbia for two matches against BC Rugby U18 Women's last year. Ten girls part of that squad return to the 2016 GHSAA teams, giving Douglas even more experience in the roster. Assistant Coach Emilie Bydwell will not be with the team on the 15s tours as she will be with Team USA in Rio, but she will accompany the girls to France for the Sept. 10-11 sevens tournament.

"While Bydwell is an integral part of the GHSAA staff, the opportunity to work with Team USA was one that could not be missed," Douglas said. "The GHSAA staff will look to former Eagles and Elite Coach Development program participants Kate Daley and Shawn Pittman to bring their expertise and experience to assist with the upcoming east and west competitions."

ATAVUS has supported the GHSAAs to ensure equitable opportunities in rugby for young women. ATAVUS will continue to sponsor the team's preparation and travel to play in elite tournaments across the U.S. and select international competitions. Three GHSAA alumna - Lilly Durbin, Tess Feury, and Richelle Stephens - have gone on to win senior caps for the 15s and sevens Eagles since the program began, with more than a handful of others graduating to the AIG Women's Junior All-Americans and AIG Women's Collegiate All-Americans.

The GHSAAs' European roster will be confirmed in the coming days.

UPDATE: Aug. 1

The GHSAA squad for Women European Championship 7s U18s includes five players selected to a 2016 15s tour, as well as Lilly Durbin, an internationally-capped Eagle on the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series.

Girls High School AllHannah Garcia
Natalie Gray
Delia Hellander
Alyssa Henneberg
Emily Henrich
Sydeney Hugus
Lynnzee Jordan
Grace Kiraly
Paige Krahling
Jodi Losch
Hannah Moran
Jess Nagie
Allie Ramage
Darina Roe
Annie Rolf
Hannah Savin
Brianna Whitfield
Elizabeth Wilson
Erin Wright

Girls High School Allv. Quebec U18s - Friday, July 29
v. Quebec U18s - Sunday, July 31

Girls High School AllMcKenzie Bochers
KC Byrd
Samantha Carroll
Kaitlyn Delapaz
Isabella Devore
Alex DiMarco
Grace Estes
Lauren Feddridge
Brooke Garcia
Fane Haungatau
Addison Horsley
Reagan Hunter
Madison Jumper
Natalie Locke
Leilani Mendoza
Delaney Rakuita
Megan Reed
Punipuoa Skipps
Joannah Skucek
Samantha Tancredi
Salote Tausinga
Hailey Thomas
Alexandra Wantlin
Camille White

Girls High School Allv. Quebec U16s - Friday, July 29
v. Quebec U16s - Sunday, July 31

Girls High School All-Americans powered by ATAUVS | Coaching Staff
Farrah Douglas - Head Coach
Ricardo Ramirez - Assistant Coach
Kate Daley - Assistant Coach
Katherine Henry - Physiotherapist
Sarah Leslie - Physiotherapist
Carrie DuBray - Manager
Jacque Harrell - Manager

Girls High School AllCeara Bettcher
Lily Brown
Mirielle Cordoa
Atumata Hingano
Seini Imarial
Mililani Leui
Lolohea Makaafi
Daisy Manoa
Rian Moala
Cheyene Nielson
Winter OBrien
MJ Paisoles
Ana Polaulo
Julia Riekena
Malili Schaap
Alexandra Sedrick
McKenna Strong
Finau Tamaviena
Mele Tausinga
Nia Toliver
Penina Tuilaepa
Brianna Vasquez

Girls High School Allv. BC U18s - Friday, Aug. 5
v. BC U18s - Sunday, Aug. 7

Girls High School All-Americans powered by ATAVUS | Coaching Staff
Farrah Douglas - Head Coach
Ricardo Ramirez - Assistant Coach
Shawn Pittman - Assistant Coach
Sarah Leslie - Physiotheraphist
Carrie DuBray - Manager
Jacque Harrell - Manager

Girls High School All-Americans powered by ATAVUS | Women European Championship 7s U18
Suiluana A'au
Cassidy Bargell
Kayla Canett
Lilly Durbin
Kathleen Gearhart
Renee Gonzalez
Lolohea Makaafi
Daisy Manoa
Julia Riekena
Alexandria Sedrick
Kathryn Stowers
Charity Tenney
Nia Toliver
Atumata Hingano

Girls High School All-Americans powered by ATAVUS | Coaching Staff
Farrah Douglas - Coach
Emilie Bydwell - Coach
Sarah Leslie - Physiotherapist