Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Welcome to the Stars!

Hello blogosphere (ruggosphere?)!

There's so much pressure with this first post as all of us involved in this team care *so much* about the sport of rugby and about the camaraderie and spirit of the game. It's difficult to put this all into precise words with a clear message so I'll try to briefly touch on a few key points with much more to come.

(Let's not forget that I'm also organizing our inaugural tour to USA Sevens in Las Vegas, Nevada where we are fielding both an Open and Elite playing sides. This includes player invites, accommodations, transportation, kit design, sourcing sponsors, coaching plans, media work, coordinating with the tournament director, finding practice fields and lining up scrimmages/training sessions, working with medical teams and more to provide the best experience possible. It's herding cats but in the best possible way! I'm fortunate to have the assistance of a great rugby network but more on that in a future post!)

Our mission is simple: To provide elite rugby 7s playing opportunities to develop women across the US and around the world.

Uniting as a touring team for a few tournaments a year will only further the development of this game and enhance the global rugby network.Having had the opportunity to travel to across the US/Canada and across  the pond/equator for rugby purposes, I cannot fathom not sharing and growing these experiences. The touring aspects of this sport are invaluable in the development of the game and in sharing rugby culture. Nothing compares to touring Twickenham Stadium, scoring tries on foreign soil, and trading jerseys with your opposition after the match. The gentlemanly social traditions of this sport are a vital part of rugby culture.

As a player I am closer to the retirement part of my career than the rookie stages. I have been incredibly fortunate throughout my playing and coaching career in that Chicago has a wealth of rugby experience. I was able to train where nearly every coach I've played for had USA Rugby National Team credentials and my teammates boast numerous Eagles caps. The drive and experience in the environment I was introduced to the game is rarely equalled in other US cities and in my travels as player and coach, and having attended many AGMs, served on numerous boards, and in coaching the youth/college game, it's clear that there are "rugby deserts" that exist. To be clear - that's not to say that there aren't qualified coaches with every program; it's more that most programs are driven by the funding and geographic constrictions that exist. The differences/abilities/opportunities in youth/club/college rugby in the Midwest vary greatly from those in the South, in the Northeast, and the West. Varsity programs operate on different levels from those schools that have club status and each sports/rec department is different. So if we can give high level opportunities to amazing athletes that otherwise don't see this level of competition, especially with the decimation of LAU and ITT playing opportunities, then that is a service we'll pride ourselves on providing.

I'm thoroughly excited for this team to come together and perform together. While we (myself and our main coach who's been a huge asset and I'll feature in another post) expect high performance wins on the field, we're genuinely more thrilled to bridge the gaps between collegiate D2 women to USA Eagles and Irish professional women that are part of our player pool. We can give these young guns a look at the old guard, the chance to pick their brains and test their skills, to light a fire for future Eagles (and other countries emerging stars as we have some Canada U-20/provincial all-stars in our ranks). Rookie or veteran, we'll all develop together and come back from Vegas with great tour stories to boot!

On that note, we're still seeking sponsors to help fund our trip.... stay tuned for a detailed post on sponsors and please visit our donation page to contribute to the Stars.

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