A really nice Girls’ High School Open has shaped up for the Los Angeles Invitational (LAI) 7s, the amateur tournament associated with the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series stop in Carson, Calif. The 16-team division is mostly single-school and high school club teams, but Eagle Impact Rugby Academy (EIRA) is bringing that select side element to the field.
Last year was big for EIRA. The girls’ program took its first-ever international 15s tour, bringing both U16 and U18 squads to Ireland (Read more: EIRA Girls Make Statement in Ireland). EIRA continued to hold ID camps throughout the country and then more than 60 players traveled to Casa Grande, Ariz., in late December for the annual winter 15s camp.
“When we were in Arizona, we asked the players if there was interest in [LAI 7s], and so many of them got excited about that that we just had to do it,” EIRA coach Kelsie McDowell said.
McDowell has served as an assistant coach in Ireland and Arizona, and is head coach for this tour while Lindsay Mahoney represents the Hartford Harpooners at the LAI (stay tuned for interview with Mark Diaz). EIRA Director of Rugby Salty Thompson will be overseeing the multiple squads, and Jason Scrogham will assist McDowell.
“Salty’s very adamant that if you have a prior club commitment and you’re already going to LA, then you go with your home team,” McDowell said. “We’re not trying to get anyone in trouble with their team, so selections were a mix of players’ availability, players’ interest and layering [talent].
“We have a good mix of size and speed and experience levels,” the coach continued. “We have everywhere from freshmen to seniors, so there’s a big age range. They’re a good group of kids. They’re going to get along well and put a solid product out there.”
Of the 13 players who are heading to Los Angeles, eight toured with EIRA to Ireland last summer. Eight states are represented – California (1), Colorado (3), Maryland (1), Michigan (2), New Jersey (1), New York (1), Texas (2) and Wisconsin (2) – and there are also two sets of sisters, the Dausers and Kissingers.
EIRA HS GIRLS @ LAI 7S
Rebecca Balladares – West Carroll Marauders, Md. *
Erin Croke – Colorado Rugby Academy, Colo.
Charlotte Dauser – Sparta-Rock, Mich.*
Drew Dauser – Sparta-Rock, Mich.*
Sydney Gottesman – Marin Highlanders, Calif.
Annie Henrich – Orchard Park, N.Y.*
Erica Kissinger – Celina, Texas*
Rachel Kissinger – Celina, Texas*
Carolina Martinez – Green Bay Banshees, Wisc.*
Caitlin Moroney – Morris Lions, N.J.
Cecelia Stowers – Madtown Furies, Wisc.*
Lucy Walker – Denver East HS, Colo.
Tahna Wifley – Denver East HS, Colo.
*EIRA Ireland tour (summer ’22)
Head coach – Kelsie McDowell
Asst. coach – Jason Scrogham
Director of Rugby – Salty Thompson
The LAI hasn’t released pools or schedules yet, but if the 16-team field remains intact, then that’s the perfect number for an HSBC-style 7s tournament. Games are reportedly occurring at CSU Long Beach, but those details have not been publicly confirmed. Visit then LAI 7s site for more information.
As for EIRA, watch for information on another international 15s tour this summer. Visit EIRA’s website for more info.
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