Last week, the ICEF Rugby Girls attended the LA84 Foundation to celebrate the 33rd Annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) Breakfast, honoring Valorie Kondos Field, head coach of UCLA’s NCAA championship gymnastics team.
Kondos Field shared a variety of stories, from coaching world-class athletes, to using different motivational tactics, to how she approached her personal battle with breast cancer. After the Q&A session, she spoke with the girls individually and offered advice as they continue to make an impact on and off the field. The LA84 Foundation, President and CEO Renata Simril, ICEF Rugby Girls’ Emia Doubs, and LA84 SAMbassador Kimaya Lampkin then gifted Kondos Field an original poster from the 1984 Olympic games hosted in Los Angeles.
Interestingly, Kimaya was the very first rugby player to be selected as part of the LA84 Youth Advisory Board and is in her second year. Valorie Kondos Field very kindly recognized the ICEF Rugby Girls as exceptional leaders in the community and gifted a copy of her new book, Life Is Short, Don’t Wait to Dance.
But Kondos Field wasn’t the only sport luminary to share encouraging words on rugby. Elana Meyers Taylor, new president of the Women’s Sports Foundation and USA 7s alumna, told ICEF Rugby Girls:
Playing rugby helped me feel a part of a team again after a very challenging 2014 Olympics. I enjoyed the challenge of learning a new sport from some of the greatest players in the world and made some great friends. It was really an honor and privilege to be able to play this great sport.
THE POWER OF MENTORING
Strengthening Lives, Shaping Futures
As part of the eight-week ICEF Rugby High School Coaching Program, ICEF Rugby recruits and develops players from View Park Preparatory Accelerated Charter High School to then coach and mentor elementary and middle school students from ICEF Public Schools. Experienced high school students are paired with less experienced students, and they work collaboratively to coach the younger students. The coaching partnership encourages both students to reflect and communicate on strengths and areas for improvement on a weekly basis. Students build leadership by developing their interpersonal skills, such as critical thinking, decision-making and assertiveness.
“We set a new participation record at 140 ICEF girls and boys from all 8 ICEF schools for 5th-8th grade Wednesday rugby program this year,” Stuart Krohn, Director of ICEF Rugby and Sailing, shared. “One hundred and fifteen 5th-8th graders are playing flag [5th and 6th] and tackle [7th and 8th], and they are being coached by 25 View Park High School scholar-rugby coaching interns.”
Lisa Finegan and Krohn oversee 7th and 8th grade girls and boys tackle rugby with high school intern coaches. One of those high school coaches is Kimaya Lampkin (’21), who also serves as ICEF Rugby Girls vice president. Kimaya has been playing tackle rugby since middle school and is now in her second year playing at the high school level. As a freshman, Kimaya traveled oversees to Hong Kong and the Philippines.
Sarah Wells, the ICEF Girls Alumni Intern Coach (VP ’18 valedictorian) manages the 5th and 6th grade rugby. Sarah is a recent High School All-American and currently studying business administration at University Southern California (’22). As part of ICEF Rugby program, Sarah has traveled internationally to Brazil, Fiji, Hong Kong and the Philippines, and was delighted to return to support the ICEF Rugby Coaching program. She shares how important is to give back to community, and the inspiration and empowerment the program gives girls every year:
I always envisioned coming back, as I had such an incredibly positive experience throughout my high school years with ICEF Rugby. I developed exceptional leadership through mentoring from Coach Krohn and Coach Lisa, traveling internationally and attending ICEF Summer Semester at University of Santa Barbara. I have developed into a confident and assertive leader, on and off the field.
(l-r) Nimat Jones, Kimaya Lampkin, Sarah Wells, Lisa Finegan
Director of Secondary Literacy Nimat Jones, who works with Lisa Finegan on the ICEF Academic team overseeing teaching and learning, helped celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day, added:
Sports has proven to be an important part of academic curricula here at ICEF. Integrating sports and play as educational tools creates an optimum learning environment for young learners. Rugby is an excellent tool to improve both physical and academic literacy of our students. I am so impressed with all that ICEF Rugby offers and continues to do for our students, and for us as an organization.
Meanwhile, ICEF Public Schools CEO Parker Hudnut, who co-teaches a leadership class (Youth Entrepreneurs Leaders and Literature) with Stuart Krohn at View Park Preparatory Accelerated Charter High School, remarked:
We focus on providing the very best for our students using a college-ready model that includes our unique 3’s approach to Academics, Athletics and Arts. We believe these opportunities greatly enrich the lives of our students and prepare them for success in a diverse society. The ICEF Rugby program consistently supports this, by building community, celebrating diversity and facilitating collaboration.
As the ICEF Rugby Girls look forward to finishing off a stellar season of growth and development, they set their sights on representing South Los Angeles at Las Vegas Sevens and their international tour to Tanzania, Africa – a marvelous opportunity to celebrate all successes. The future is bright!