Eagle Alumni Spotlight: Allyson Sutkowi-Hemstreet

After many rugby seasons in California and a number of years as an Eagle, Allyson Sutkowi-Hemstreet now utilizes her passion for athletics and experience as a high performance athlete in her career as a physical therapist. Learn more about Allyson and her outlook on the sport she loves.

USA Rugby Trust:When and where did you play rugby?
Allyson Sutkowi-Hemstreet:I played rugby at University of California, Berkeley from 2001-2005 and fortunately Kathy Flores was the head coach for several seasons. From 2005-2009, I played for the Berkeley All-Blues Rugby Football Club. After relocating to Los Angeles, I joined the Belmont Shore Rugby Football Club and played from 2009-2011. I hung up my boots when I started the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, in 2011.

USART: When did you play with the Eagles?
ASH: I first got involved with the Eagles in the Under-23 program in 2005. I played for both the Pacific Coast and Southern California select side teams and attended a number of USA training camps. I got capped on tour in 2008, a goal that seemed very far out of my reach when I set it in 2005.

USART: What is your favorite rugby memory?
ASH: The matches that mean the most to me are the ones that my various teams had no business winning. My final game with Cal at the 2005 Nationals, an NASC match with the Grizzlies that we won in overtime as well as a run of wins with the SoCal Griffins are all happy memories for me. Those were all instances when each respective team was better than the sum of its parts and when each member of the team excelled together. The moments when everything comes together and something collectively beautiful happens on the pitch are rare and so exciting.

USART: Where are you now?
ASH: Right now I live in Napa, California, with my wife and our baby. I work as a physical therapist in the Napa Valley.

USART: What do you believe is the most important factor in growing the sport of rugby in the US?
ASH: I believe that we have a great opportunity to grow the game by making it increasingly accessible to young women. Women and girls have few options to play a contact sport on a team of all women. I believe rugby is hugely empowering for all individuals but especially women. I hope we can get the next generation playing, watching and supporting the sport of rugby early.