USA Rugby’s first Girls High School All-American squads competed in February’s Las Vegas Invitational in Las Vegas alongside USA Sevens, the fifth stop of the 2014-15 World Rugby HSBC Sevens World Series. The Blue Stars and Red Stripes both finished pool play undefeated, while the Red Stripes went on to win the Cup Final against perennial contender British Columbia. Head Coach Mollie McCarthy sat down to answer a few questions on the GHSAAs’ first tournament.
The Las Vegas Invitational was the first time a Girls High School All American team played together, can you give us a quick recap of how the LVI went for the two GHSAA teams?
- The GHSAA program had an incredibly successful week at the LVI. There was a lot of learning happening for both the players and staff. We kept focused on our goals of development, exposure and experience in a High Performance environment. I think our performances in each game for both the Red Stripes and Blue Stars demonstrated a lot of growth and potential. Of course we encountered challenges but we found areas of which to improve across the board, which is exciting for things we plan to accomplish as we move forward. We could not have picked a more coachable, talented, respectful and passionate group of athletes. Throughout the tournament between both teams we played a total of 12 games and went 11-1, with our Red Stripes winning the Cup in our division and the Blue Stars winning the Bowl. Although the Red Stripes won, both teams contributed and it was really a win for women’s rugby and the USA.
What were your goals for the weekend, and were they met?
- One of the major goals of this program is to identify talent at an earlier age and help foster their development as they move up through the USA Rugby High Performance pathway. Every girl surprised our coaching staff at one point or another with their talent and abilities. I think what is most exciting is that we have begun to identify athletes that we project to play in either the 2016 Olympics and/or 2017 World Cup.
What was the response from the general rugby community to having these girls play together for the first time?
- We had an overwhelming positive and supportive response not only to the announcement of our program but also to our performance at the LVI. Many people approached us and thanked us for finally bringing this program to fruition. In fact a few supporters even went so far to make sure we knew the excitement of watching these girls represent their country was their favorite part of the LVI this year.
Is there anything you’d like to add about your coaching staff?
- I could not have asked to work with a more dedicated and passionate group of people. Each coach brought a unique outlook and skill set to the program; everything from mental skills to technical sevens content was of equal importance. It was the first time that all of us worked together and by the end of the week it seemed like we have been working together for years. I cannot wait to continue to develop and evolve with this staff as we grow this program.
What’s next for the GHSSA program?
- The completion of the LVI was a very important first step for our program. Proving our existence and potential. However, it is just the beginning. There is a lot of work to be done in the upcoming months as the high school season kicks off. We will be doing a lot of planning, scheduling and scouting. Our staff will have a big presence at the Regional All Star Tournaments and the USA Rugby Stars and Stripes program with the hopes of scheduling a 15s match as early as this summer and a development camp later this year.