Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gender Equity for Women's Rugby

This organization is Worth taking a look at here

This also reminds our staff about the challenges WGR has faced over the years in recruiting coaches.  It seems that every time a new boys high school team starts up and the requests go out for coaching help, coaches come out of the woodwork to get invovled.  With probably over thirty boys teams in Wisconsin, they continue to grow.  What we find frustrating and disappointing is that this same call for help is not headed when high school girls look to play the game.  Why is this?  While we have some ideas of our own, we'd like to hear in our comments section why our readers think this may be the case.

We have had some success recruiting coaches from retired former players in the area, but more often we find coaches from the ranks of WGR alumni who return to coach.  DSHA continues to have girls give back to the game:  the Dashers have supplied probably half a dozen coaches, in addition to two USA Rugby employees, and a WGR Board Member who is not involved with coaching.  Memorial, with at least that many coaches coming from their ranks as well, has also produced two head coaches, which are far harder to find than assistant coaches.  Muskego, KM, and Vernon all have or have had coaches who are alumni from their own programs.  WGR would have less teams if not for these mostly volunteers giving back to the game and teaching the next generation.

Two related facts stand out to us:
..more Wisconsin girls have earned scholarships to play collegiate rugby than the boys.  This is a trend that will inevitabley continue.  With the way title ix works, it's girls sports like rugby that are adding scholarships, not boys team sports.  Coaching girls is rewarding and impactful.

..The WGR league plays some high-level rugby,  You will be challenged as a coach to help your players play at the highest level.

A few facts from the website stand out. Some of us find motivation in the disparity noted below.

#1  USA, which has made many improvements over the years, pays 15 men and 7 women, to train full-time for Olympic 7's at the Olympic Training Center.

#2 According to the Women's Sports Foundation,  "by the age of 14, girls drop out of sport at twice the rate boys do."


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

UW Badger Hockey Star Turned Rugger

UW's Alev Kelter, a varsity soccer and hockey collegiate, has moved to the Olympic Training facility in Chula Vista to make a go at the USA Olympic 7's rugby team.

Born in Alaska, Alev played soccer, flag football, and hockey competitively in high school, making her a great fit as a crossover athlete.  She was in ODP soccer from 205-2007, played on the USA u17 National Soccer team, and was the Alaska Player of the year in soccer in 2008.  She was also all-state in flag football.

Her hockey career was incredibly successful as she played for the USA on numerous occasions and captained the u18 USA team.

Congrats to the 5'8'' former Badger!  It's never too late to start playing rugby.

Her story highlights one of the challenges of the USA Olympic 7's teams ... finding world class athletes to compete against rugby-first countries where the best athletes start with rugby at a young age.  WGR is excited to be a part of introducing more good athletes to the game at a younger level.  Maybe the next Olympian is out there contemplating giving rugby a try this fall.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Midwest u20's and u23's

Congrats to the WGR alumni who are touring Canada with the Midwest Select sides.  Since the old territorial tournament between regional sides no longer exists, the Midwest has tried to keep the program alive by doing their own tour each summer, in an effort to promote the growth and opportunities from some committed athletes.

Nice to see Wisconsin girls being willing to sacrifice the time, effort, and expense needed to participate in these experiences.

A full story can be read here at Goff's Reports under college news.

MW u23's WGR Alumni:

Maggie Armstrong (UW-Point)(Catholic Memorial)
Talia Carasquillo (UN-Iowa) (Kettle Moraine)
Crystal Nye (UN-Iowa) (Not sure on this one .. possibly UWM/KM.  Anybody out there know?

MW u20's WGR Alumni
Anisa Feto (Oak Creek)
Eileen Lieb (UN-Iowa)(Catholic Memorial)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sylvia Braaten Women's World Cup Profile

Wisconsin's Sylvia Braaten is on the USA Women's National team that will travel to France for the Women's World Cup beginning August 1st. A graduate of Waterford High School, she played basketball, and tennis in high school. At Marquette University she was a member of the women's basketball team's practice squad as a freshman before seeing a flyer for rugby, giving it a try, and "falling in love" with the game. She made an immediate impact at MU, and quickly earned a spot on the then u19 USA Eagles as they toured the U.K. in 2004, playing primarily as a center. Braaten went on to many selectside honors, and eventually moved to Minnessota to play for a premier league club up there, after graduation. Currently she works full time as a strength and conditioning coach at a high school in Minnessota. At 5'8" and 155 lbs, she has a wonderful combination of speed, power, and passing skills. She's also listed as a flyhalf, as a secondary position.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Stars and Stripes Rosters Announced

Congratulations to all the girls named to the 2nd Annual Stars and Stripes camp held by USA Rugby.

 St Joseph's Academy senior Ali DeCrane was named to her second camp, a pretty special achievement. She's been a heck of a player for years down there and it's well-deserved. She joins several others in repeating, like another standout, Danville senor scrumhalf Fina Toetu'u.

 The staff here at WGR was a little shocked at first to not see a single Wisconsin girl named to the camp, especially with some strong teams and committed ruggers in the state. But, then we thought about it a few minutes and it registered. It appears not to be a reflection of the talent in the state, but more a reflection of politics at this time. Something seen at higher levels and selectsides in all sports. 

USA Rugby is pushing their pathway hard and if you want to part take in their camps, you have to play for an "all-star" team in the build up. So the teams, which are stacked with deserving and amazing athletes, won't include all the amazing and most talented athletes. That's true for all selectsides, in reality. There are always factors that play into this .. availability, cost, injury, etc. So, the young athletes that weren't able to be a part of the camp this year should not feel too let down. 

One concern WGR has with USA Rugby pushing hard that to be considered an athlete must play for their state, without exception, is the pressure this puts on some of our best, young high school athletes to play injured for a state level select-side, otherwise they have no chance in being involved in the even higher level camps down the road. Select-side coaches often have a different perspective on players, which can be refreshing, but at the same time they often don't have an understanding of how much mileage an athlete has accumulated in a season. This we hope is where a young adult has to weigh their decisions carefully, and with discussion with their parents and mentors.

 At the same time, players and parents should keep in mind that a good rugby player will have lots of opportunities to play for "all-star" teams at other points in their career. Just because one cannot or did not make this one, does not mean other teams, at other age groups (collegiate, regional, etc) are not open to try outs as well. This reminds us at WGR, unfortunately, about how rugby has in the past had a trend of burning out great young athletes by having them play year-round, for every selectside in the book (state, region, USA u20, u23, etc), perhaps against older, stronger ladies, in rapid succession. Perhaps this is fine in soccer, but in a game with as much contact as rugby, this is an area we are concerned with. We wonder if this growing trend towards more all-star rugby will continue? Probably. It's usually a good experience for these young athletes who can afford it. Other factors in the discussion: Will the inclusion of more 7's rugby mean even less time off for athletes to recover, or get stronger? Or will it give them more of a break from the contact of 15's and improve their skills/conditioning? Of course, the USA needs more good rugby to compete with the other rugby playing nations, so these kinds of events are critical to buildig up the experience of elite level athletes. And perhaps that's the bottom line: we are only talkng about the most elite level athletes at this point. STARS and STRIPES 2014 Rosters Ashlee Byrge Rocky Mountain Challenge Utah Daja Curtis Great Northwest Challenge WA Loggers Sheila Decker New England Challenge Cup VYRA Ali DeCrane Midwest All Stars Ohio Lilly Durbin Great Northwest Challenge Socal Tess Feury Challenge Cup New York Rachel Fitch Rocky Mountain Challenge APEX Ellie Fromstein Midwest All Stars Minnesota Hanna Garcia Challenge Cup Indiana Alana Girardin New England Challenge Cup MYRO Renee Gonzales Midwest All Stars Minnesota McKenzie Hawkins Karee Helgerson Great Northwest Challenge Rugby Oregon Mata Hingano Rocky Mountain Challenge NorCal Hedvig Karlson Rocky Mountain Challenge Utah Grace Kiraly Midwest All Stars Indiana Joie Krahling Challenge Cup Pennsylvania Paige Krahling Haley Langan New England Challenge Cup VYRA Maya Learned Rocky Mountain Challenge Colorado Hannah Lewandowski Great Northwest Challenge WA Loggers Diarr Lillie Great Northwest Challenge SoCal Megan Mackay Rocky Mountain Challenge Utah Ilona Maher New England Challenge Cup VYRA Az Nalbandian New England Challenge Cup MYRO Michel Navarro Great Northwest Challenge SoCal Kate Payson Challenge Cup Emily Prentice Great Northwest Challenge WA Loggers Kat Ramage Challenge Cup NY Annemarie Reed Challenge Cup Pennsylvania Ashley Rolsma Great Northwest Challenge WA Loggers Becca Rosko Rocky Mountain Challenge APEX Emily Roskopf Rocky Mountain Challenge/Great Northwest Challenge Norcal Andrea Sanabria Midwest All Stars Minnesota Frankie Sands New England Challenge Cup VYRA Caitie Sands New England Challenge Cup VYRA Lindsay Songer Great Northwest Challenge NorCal Jordan Stewart Great Northwest Challenge Montana Suli Tausinga Rocky Mountain Challenge/Great Northwest Challenge NorCal Abby Tobias Challenge Cup Virginia Fina Toetu'u Rocky Mountain Challenge NorCal Danielle Walko-Suia Great Northwest Challenge Hawaii Caitlin Weigel Midwest All Stars Ohio Lily Weldon Rocky Mountain Challenge APEX Elizabeth Wilson Challenge Cup Virginia

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wisc. Boys State Final Video

The boys side of the high school rugby game in Wisconsin continues to grow at astounding rates. With leagues and conferences in Milwaukee, Madison, the Fox Valley, and Green Bay area, they are split into the Southeast (Milw. and Madison) under Badgerland Rugby and under N.E.W (North-East Wisc.) featuring the Green Bay-Fox Valley area. This year's boys state championship, played in Breese Stadium in Madison can be viewed here. Great to see all the rugby being played around the state. It's also interesting to compare the skills and styles of the boys and girls leagues.