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Founded out of passion and love of the game, the American Pro Rugby Training Center (APRTC) officially opened for business with their first high performance camp in August of 2014, welcoming its first residents in January 2015. Founder, Julie McCoy, who’s already sourced USA Rugby talent, is on a mission to identify, cultivate and deliver even more candidates through the APRTC, the largest of five USA Rugby sanctioned National Development Academies.
1. Who did you coach in Las Vegas? Was coaching your sole purpose for being there?
I helped coach the Atlantis Men in the Elite division with my good pal, Chris Ryan. I have been coaching men now since the 2009 World Cup, and aim to add men to our academy, so it allowed for some scouting and networking opportunities, in addition to honing my team coaching skills. In addition, I was able to watch many Elite Women's games and scout there for the Academy. Our female residents of four weeks played for the Atlantis Women's Elite Team, coached by Dana Creager. I was also able to assess the resident's progress in game settings.
2. What was your impression of the women's tournament?
I was impressed by the consistency of competition across the women's teams fielded. The level was definitely one notch above what most players experience here in the USA, and one notch below what they would see on the IRB circuit. Entering our residents there served an important purpose. They know they have to crawl before they walk, walk before they run.
In addition, the residents were able to assess the different teams based on our principles of play, as well as adapt their games to our principles. I particularly enjoyed watching Argentina play; their approach on attack is similar to what I know Coach Suggitt is striving for, and they were entertaining to watch, as well. They are a very improved team.
3. Did you identify new talent for your academy?
Yes, we are signing three new residents this month and two the next. We have several players interested in coming over the summer. I am hopeful we will find more at our next High Performance Camp in April.
4. How many residents do you currently have and who are they? Where are they from (sport and geographical location)?
There are five residents currently training at "The Center", preparing their skills and bodies for the summer 7s season. In addition, Hunter Griendling, from the DC Furies, is training to peak for the Touch Rugby World Cup later in the spring. We have one crossover from basketball, Louisiana born and bred, Bria Bohanon, a speedster with point guard field vision, who we hope will turn some heads one day. Ashley Perry, from the Twin City Amazons, who reminds me of Jillian Potter. Lauren Rhode, a Princeton Alumnus, is a tireless student of the game, and is working hard to bring her numbers into range for National Team consideration. Jess Wooden, from the Atlanta Harlequins, just got here, but impressed at our last HP Camp; she is a very good rugby player and just needs opportunity.
5. What is your opinion on the current marketability of women's rugby in America? How can we get the dollars to promote it as USA Sevens has done with the men's 7s program?
Good question, Phaidra. Most of my marketing experience with women has been on the benevolent "giving" side. I don't want to generalize, but most women I know are very frugal when it comes to spending money, we only give when we feel the cause is just, or if it directly benefits someone we know. I would love to see more female business leaders pitch in and promote women's sports! Team sport for Women creates an environment where we all have to work together for a common goal, and forces us to quit competing with one another. I would think that male and female business leaders would be interested in investing in that sort of paradigm, especially since 60% of current college graduates are women.
I was inspired by Pam Kosanke's recent presentation on marketing for Women; it was re-posted on Wendy Young's "YOURSCRUMHALFCONNECTION" website (http://scrumhalfconnection.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/NDS-2015-Women...), for readers not able to attend USA RUGBY's National Development Summit in Chicago. Pam functions as American Rugby Pro's marketing consultant, and is a visionary. We are lucky to have her on board.