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
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
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