Thursday, August 2, 2007

Internet Adventures

Hi everyone...this is just a quick post letting you know that more posts are coming soon...lately the internet has been very expensive at every hotel, so I haven't been posting. But, I will be filling you in on the happenings of our tour here in the past week as well as info about our last game and more pictures on flickr.

Tomorrow is our last game here in Aukland and we can't wait to suit up and kick some kiwi @#$. I just wanted to say thanks for reading and hello to some people who found the blog: Lear's boyfriend (she misses you and if she sings about Harry Potter when she returns it's our fault), Schlarb's mom, everyone's parents (I keep hearing people asking if it's me that has the blog their parents found), the OB family (Marea, I'm sorry I haven't posted enough to keep you entertained at work, but I also haven't seen a hilarious blog entry from you for quite a while...hint hint), and ruggers everywhere (thanks for loving this sport too!). Have a great day, and I'll be posting soon.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

On to the North Island...

As you may have read via Saturday's a rugby day, we downed our first opponent (Burnside Rugby Club) on Wednesday by using some amazing backs play and quick possession. The first half was amazing to watch because we were all so excited about how good our team is. I went in at the half and Burnside definitely stepped up their intensity. We ended up on defense for much of the remaining time, but held strong and ended up notching a try in the end with an outside pass to Schmarra. We all felt good about the win, but definitely knew we had to work out some things at practice for our next match.

The next few days were a bit of a blur, as we travelled north for our next match against Manawatu. The bus ride to the ferry was long, but absolutely beautiful. We actually stopped on the way to do some seal-watching and have a bit of a run around. Finally we ended up at the ferry to the north be continued

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Day 2

I can’t believe it’s only day two!!! I feel like I’ve been here for a while, just because we’ve done so much. This morning we woke up from our 12-14 hours of sleep to a wonderful breakfast and hopped on the bus for some good training. In the morning we focused on body position in contact, ball retention, making swift devastating tackles (head up, get close, shoulder and squeeze). I also split off with the tight five in the morning and worked on the power position and core strength stuff. I felt like this morning started off okay for me, and actually I did a little bad for a couple drills….and then got better at the end.

We broke for lunch at about noon and ate at in the stands of one of the crusader’s rugby pitches. Then we headed off to the locker room to practice our rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” and ended up having an impromptu dance-off complete with Schmarra showing us how to pop, lock and drop it…Tunney doing some breakdance spins, Sherri coming in with the worm, and Shoddy generally acting crazy (not really, the eagle coming out of the shell dance was kind of amazing, or should I say Sha-mazing). Even Kentucky joined in with some fantastic hick dance…the electric slide, and Sydney doing her “yoga” dance…or whatever it is…kindof awesome. I didn’t bust out the temper tantrum, but something tells me I probably should have.

Anyway, so after lunch we paired off and did some peripheral vision work and then hit the pitch for our second session. We ran through a bunch of drills working on movement off the ball, running angles, creating space, decision making and trailer communication…everything seemed to be improving as we went along. There were a lot of dropped balls, but I think that will clean up with a bit more time. Hopefully soon tho, b/c our first game is tomorrow. So then the tight 5 and backs/backrow split, and Barb told me to go with the backrow, which is absolutely awesome!!! At first I was a little shaky, but I got better as the day went on and really think I proved that I am ready to be #7. I still need to work on a lot of things though. Especially, getting mentally into our game plan of fast paced rugby, rucking over (no bridging), talking, coming from depth, and reading the set piece better. So we ended the day with a scrimmage (not full tackle, sort of) which went ok…we were definitely a bit messy and chaotic, but dangerous in attack too. So then we stretched down and headed back to the hotel.
That’s where the staff announced that there’d be mandatory ice baths in the freezing cold swimming pool outside. Wow. Not my forte.

It was of course hellaciously cold, but we passed the time singing away and for some reason I went up to my neck. The bath proved to be a great choice though because now I feel a lot more mobile than I did right after practice. Again dinner was amazing and Kate was crazy about bread while Tess was cracking up the whole time at Tanya and Shoddy’s shenanigans. The jersey ceremony followed that and Barb really emphasized possession and point of contact…definitely two things to remember tomorrow. I got jersey #20, which is really exciting because if I’m flanking, I really want to come off the bench and make a positive impact…and charge the team with positive energy by making that amazing tackle/run…it’s going to be awesome.
After the captains meeting, we got to head back to the rooms and I got to chill with Amber and Lach (my sister and her fiance), which was amazing. Shoddy and Tanya were in here too, and we were just having a great time joking around, trying on our jerseys, and talking about crazy dogs and Katie Mac’s terrets. Love this team. Love this country. Love this game.

Sweet dreams,

P.S. I posted some pics on flickr if you'd like to take a look...



I’M IN NEW ZEALAND!!! Wow, this trip is going to be amazing. So on Saturday I got up super early after not going to bed until 3am because I procrastinated on packing and other tasks. I rode up with my coach Nate for our Sunsplash 7’s at Belmont Shore…we started the tourney a little slow, but picked up and ended with good communication and dangerous offense that helped us win all four games and take home the trophy (which was a sailboat…weird). The team was celebrating in appropriate rugby fashion with flip cup and pitchers all around (which I was watching with glass of water in hand) and I headed out to LAX for my flight to NZ!

Meeting the team for the first time was really exciting, and everyone was and is amped about this tour. We played a bit of a scavenger hunt to learn more about each other and hopped on our looooong flight to Aukland. I’m actually writing this with some intense jet lag leftover from getting to Christchurch this morning…so if there are any glaring grammatical problems sorry. Anyway, the long flight was actually ok…but I slept less than I thought I would. After only sleeping 3 hours the night before I thought I’d pass out immediately, but that wasn’t the case. Being the chatter that I am, I talked for a while and read my book for a few hours before finally falling asleep. I woke up 6 hours later at about 3am New Zealand time, which bodes well for acclimating, watched the movie 300 and some rugby, ate some interesting plane food and rolled out into the Aukland airport. Then we had to catch a shuttle to our next flight, and the greatest thing happened on the shuttle over to the plane. We were all crammed in the back of this bus just chatting and joking around…and after making several off-color comments and ridiculous jokes, this man sitting a bit away from us busts out laughing like he’d been holding it in forever…it was so great to just see this guy cracking up over us. And of course this was hilarious to us the the back of the bus erupted in laughter. Seeing that written down its really not that funny, but a lot of this might be some “had to be there” stuff.

On to the flight. Unfortunately, our flight to Christchurch was delayed for quite a while to wait for some peoples luggage (apparently not our teammates’ luggage though b/c 3 girls’ luggage got lost!). When we finally arrived in Christchurch, everyone was ecstatic to get off the plane. Then we put on our USA gear and rolled out as a team, but not before I got to see my SISTER!!! She lives near Christchurch and met me at the airport. So exciting!!! She told me she was bringing some fans to watch our game on Wednesday, so that is pretty amazing.

The morning in Cbristchurch was absolutely gorgeous. It was crisp, cool and sunny and we met our tour guide bus driver, Murray, who tells us interesting tidbits about everything New Zealand. It was so funny to hear on the bus how everyone would be chatting and he’d start on a bit about some random building built in 1816 and everyone would be quiet and listen like it was story time…I love it. So we drove to the hotel, which is completely bomb, and got our rooms/roommate assignments. My roommate is awesome, and after being with the team all day, I’m pretty sure everyone is awesome. We stayed at the hotel for a bit for breakfast, which really reminded me of Ireland, with rashers and sausages, complete with our American reactions to Marmite (Vegemite) on toast and generally being very excited about the cereal selection. Just a quick note: a lot of my entries might revolve around food. This is not an accident. It’s pretty much my favorite part of every day (besides the rugby)…but anyway. So after breakfast, we cleaned up and went on a short tour of the Christchurch area via the giant tour bus. It is absolutely beautiful here, and we met this really cool girls club from England at the view point who thought we were scary and hoped we weren’t their opposition (I was definitely stoked about that!) and had a chat with them, took some pictures and carried on with our sightseeing antics.

After the tour, we trained at a nearby park. The weather could not have been better, and everyone was very happy to be moving around and getting ready to play rugby. It’s exciting to see everyone we’re going to be playing with….it’s unbelievable how many talented people are on this team!

After training we had some down-time to shower and take a walk to City Centre. Our group headed to the Gas station for some candy, New Zealand dollars, and phone cards. We then were on an Ill-fated quest to find free Wi-Fi somewhere in the city. This lead us, in a roundabout way, to a snowboard shop in which we chatted to the locals about rugby in Colorado and by association our little story. That’s when they suggested that we stop by the radio station next door and give Christchurch a holler over the waves. So we headed there just having a bit of an adventure and chatted with the receptionist about rugby and whatnot, and she totally gave us a bunch of free stuff and wished us luck in our games!!! I’m getting a very good impression of Kiwis…the ones we’ve met so far have been very welcoming and friendly. After leaving the radio station with foreign Tang, Listerine, and muffin bars in tow, we walked what seemed like a billion miles to the Centre and the only Starbucks in the world without free Wi-Fi and the rugby shop. We then trekked back to the hotel in time for dinner and got changed into our USA stuff.
Dinner was pretty much amazing. I’ve been shuffling in and out of different groups to get to know the people on the team as well as possible, and dinner was especially amazing. We had to wait at first and thus played the name game to use the time…it was a bit more challenging than it should have been for a bunch of hungry, tired, and jet-lagged ruggers, but it ended abruptly with my qualifying factor being “starving”. My table was pretty much amazing and we were spouting off movie quotes, announcing our love of competitive eating, and laughing uncontrollably throughout dinner. There were a couple of close calls of soup shooting out of the nose for sure.

After dinner we had a team meeting and got the rest of our fabulous USA gear, which is completely amazing. I feel like its Christmas!! And at 7:30 in the evening here we were ready to pass out….I’m lasting longer than a few east coasters but they had a whole other flight all the way to LA before the 15-hour marathon flight to New Zealand from LA…lucky me.
Tomorrow will be a training day, and we have our first match the day after that. Wow, that’s quick. I really think this team has good things in store though. I just can’t wait to play rugby!!!! I’ll talk soon.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

San Francisco Road Trip!

So, last weekend I drove up to San Francisco to attend Alex William's Rugby Camp, and it was absolutely amazing! The drive was very relaxing and I was jamming out to awesome music the whole time thanks to my wonderful new iPod charger/radio adapter gadget...had a lunch break with one of my best friends out in LA and rolled on up to the hippie city via the inland (and hot) route. I must say that it was very therapeutic to just chill and take in the scenery while partaking in some very cool drive-dancing and singing at the top of my lungs. The best thing about the trip is that my car actually made it up, albeit with many a squeaky start-up.

Thursday night I arrived at my friends' house and brought them tasty beverages in exchange for the pad to crash in...the apartment was located right in the city and was the perfect place to be as it was only 10-15 minutes from Treasure Island.

Friday was the first day of camp, and I was surprised to find that there were only about 20 people there to train. While at first this seemed to be a bad thing, I later realized that it meant much more personal attention from coaches who see so many details about positioning, technique, and form in set pieces and open play. As you can imagine, this was a very humbling camp...every drill we did, the coaching staff broke down what we were doing wrong, what we were supposed to be doing and how to fix it. I really think everyone who was there agrees that any rugby player from rookie up to eagles can improve their game in so many ways. After the first day of camp, I headed back to the city, grabbed a sandwich and headed over to some other friends' house for dessert.

Saturday I woke up surprisingly sore and a bit tired, but excited to get into scrummaging later that day. I wanted to try out prop a bit to see if I could figure it out, and let me just say I have a great appreciation of prop forwards now, and so does my neck. So many little things contribute to the making of a good prop...and being a flanker who's used to just pounding people and capitalizing on excess aggression, I found it very challenging to be so disciplined with technique. Basically us forwards worked a lot on body awareness and "deforming" our opponent while preventing them from doing the same to us. Some major points were: CORE STRENGTH, arm position elbow down, head up, looking over the sunglasses, feet underneath you, loaded like a spring...core strength again. P.S. Liz Kirk is awesome!
Needless to say, my Saturday night was not fact I ate some pasta and passed out at about 7:30pm. Very sad, I know, but I really didn't care at that point. Sunday morning, I woke up not excited to scrum, but excited for the rest of camp. We finished up the camp with a lot of good knowledge about laws, agility, lineouts, and all things rugby. I hurried to see the Golden Gate bridge before leaving town, said bye to my friends and then adios to SF via the 101 South. I took the scenic route so I could chill with some of my So-Cal teammates in Santa Barbara, which was a very good life choice. Let's just say SB is famous for great breakfast burritoes, giants who are going to New Zealand, super hot 7's uniforms, and memories of the Hot Jamz van. I left Monday morning a bit refreshed, and ready to get back to work in SD...very thankful for the opportunity to train with such great coaching staff all weekend.
In fact, even though the camp was called an Introduction to Rugby, I felt it to be advanced in the fact that it made me look at my total game, deconstruct every part, and evaluate a way to fit the pieces together more effectively and with a better understanding of the game. I came away analyzing my various basic skill levels, defensive and offensive awareness, positional skills, game knowledge, mental preparation, fitness regimen, nutrition plan, and recovery habits - and really taking a look at what I need to improve in each of these areas to become a better player. The list is very long, but it is much easier to improve small things in each area with specific goal-setting than it is to just say I want to be better. I liken it to saving money. You can't just sock away $10 have to save a bit every month to get there in a period of time. In much the same way, I need to work on my game in every area a little bit each day and it will all add up. Sorry for that...sometimes I feel the need to give myself pep-talks publicly apparently.

Oh yeah, 2 days till New Zealand - wow.

Monday, July 16, 2007


If anyone out there needs new socks, cleats, scrumcaps, jerseys, etc. please enter our code when you shop on Kooga's website, so that your purchase can support the U-23 tour!

KooGa, the official apparel supplier of USA Rugby, is offering a rugbygear fundraiser to help support the U-23 Women's National Team's tour to New Zealand. To make a purchase in support, go to During the payment section of the checkout process, enter the following coupon or promotional Code: U23women. Be sure toenter to this code, without it KooGa will not know that the order is a part of the U-23 fundraising efforts. This offer is good for anything on the website.

I'll be posting about Alex Williams Rugby camp and my trip to San Francisco soon...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

NZ Tour Details

I just picked this up via USA Rugby:

USA Women's National U-23 Team Prepare for 2007 New Zealand Tour BOULDER, Colo. -

The USA Women's National U-23 Team announced the squad for a two week long New Zealand Tour, which they will be departing for in late July. The tour will consist of three games in cities on both the country's South and North Islands.The team will begin the tour with a match against Burnside Rugby Football Club Women's Team in Christchurch on Wednesday, July 25. The second match will be in Palmerston North against the Manawatu Club on Saturday, July 28. The New Zealand tour will conclude with a final game in Auckland on August 4. "It's important for us to take these kinds of trips, because the standard of play we're aiming for is not set by domestic US competitions. It is set in places like New Zealand and England right now, so we have to go," said Head Coach Barbara Fugate. "These players will meet a new level of physical intensity and skill, and we hope that each of them will bring some of that back. This kind of tour can be a career-changing experience if the players take full advantage of it."

In addition to playing against world class competition, the members of the U-23 squad will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend an evening with Farah Palmer, who captained the New Zealand Black Ferns at the last two Women's Rugby World Cups. Also on the itinerary for their two weeks abroad is the New Zealand Domestic Women's Club Championship in Auckland on Saturday, August 4, which the U-23 women will be attending."We are very excited about this group of 28 players," Fugate added. "This is a young and extremely athletic team. It is a little bit seasoned in spite of the youth, because it includes many former USA U-19 players who already have some overseas tour experience."

The U-23 squad for the 2007 New Zealand Tour is as follows: Kirsten Ahrendt (Dartmouth), Tonya Ansel (Sr. MN Mankato), Amber Benlian (Maryland Women), Libby Berg (MN Valkyries), Phoebe Boone (UCSB), Sylvia Braaten (Chicago Northshore), Emilie Bydwell (Brown Univ.), Kate Daley (Penn State Univ.), Kassie Drey (Univ of No Iowa), Sydney Forestal (UNM), Dani Goodman-Levy (Vassar), Kelly Griffin (UCLA), Brea Hughes (Texas A&M), Tess Kohanski (Syracuse), Kristy Lear (U of MN), Tara McBride (Cal State Chico), Schmarrah McCarthy (Purdue), Kati McCormick (Kettle Moraine), Tiffany McCoy (Univ of No Iowa), Jillion Potter (UNM), Naima Reddick (Cal State Chico), Elaine Schlarb (Oregon State Univ.), Jess Travers (UIC), Emily Tunney (Philadelphia Women), Shaina Turley (San Diego Surfers), Krissy Vargas (Cal State Chico), Sheri Villa (American Univ.) and Sarah Wilson (Ohio St).

Accompanying the players will be a staff of six, including: Barbara Fugate, head coach; Martha Daines, assistant coach; Susan Whitwell, assistant coach; Annemarie Henning, program manager; Teresa Tucker, team manager; and Nicole Titmas, athletic trainer.

If you would like to support the U-23 Women's New Zealand tour, please visit the Support USA Rugby webpage and select "U23 women" in the dropdown menu to designate the U-23 Women's National Team as the recipient. If you make a donation of $100 or more, you will receive a photo of the team on tour in a scenic New Zealand location when the team returns.