Black Ice’s Kemi Adewunmi was added to the pool after impressing at club championships. /// Photo: Rebecca Gates
This National All Star Championship (NASC) is slightly different than the 2015 iterations. While there are age-grade pool players present, the All American programs are not present in Greeley, Colo., as this assembly is being held for the expressed purpose of naming the Super Series’ Eagle roster. Here’s some more insight into the candidates vying for an opportunity to represent the USA this summer:
In mid-February, 49 players were named to the senior Eagle pool, with the caveat that additions may be made after the national championships and national tracking camps. Five players named to the original pool – Maxine Fonua, Val McGuire, Erin Overcash, Rachel Ryan and Frances Wehrwein – are not present in Greeley, Colo., while nine additional players were invited to NASC for Super Series consideration:
Adekemi Adewunmi – Denver Black Ice
Elena Cantorna – Seattle Saracens
Hunter Griendling – USA 7s (ARPTC / D.C. Furies)
Nick James – Houston Athletic Rugby Club (HARC)
Samantha Luther – Beantown
Nikki Snyder – Bloomsburg University
Naya Tapper – USA 7s (Univ. North Carolina)
Jess Wooden – American Rugby Pro Training Center (ARPTC / Atlanta)
Kate Zachary – USA 7s
We’re defining “college age” as those athletes who are one year out of college and younger. That age group accounts for 22 of 53 NASC attendees. Included are six capped Eagles: Catie Benson, Elizabeth Cairns, Jordan Gray, Sara Parsons, Hope Rogers and Naya Tapper (7s).
On the younger end are four players who helped the Women’s Junior All American (i.e., U20) team defeat the Canada U20s last summer: Tess Feury, Frieda Fetu’u, Taylah Pipkin and Asinate Serevi.
If you tuned into last weekend’s College 7s Championship, then you saw Life captain Nicole Strasko lead the Running Eagles to a DI title; Cairns and Feury help Penn State to 3rd; and Serevi and Schafer contribute to Central Washington’s Plate victory. Snyder led Bloomsburg to a DII runner-up finish, and the power runner scored two tries against eventual champion Davenport.
Surprisingly, only 17 of the 53 invitees are listed with Women’s Premier League teams. All of the WPL teams are represented (except ORSU), but players are also coming from DII clubs like Augusta, Burlington and Hartford.
Catherine Benson – Life West (Penn State)
Sarah Buonopane – Beantown (Stonehill College)
Elizabeth Cairns – Penn State
Yejadai Dunn – Dartmouth College
Frieda Fetu’u – Berkeley All Blues
Tess Feury – Penn State
Megan Foster – Life West (Chico State)
Jordan Gray – Brigham Young University
Bailey Johnson – Minnesota Valkyries (Mankato State)
Etta Mailau – Vipers
Saskia Morgan – Brown University
Uzoamaka Okoro – Brown University
Sara Parsons – Austin Valkyries (UN Reno)
Megan Pinson – Life West (Central Washington)
Taylah Pipkin – Penn State
Hope Rogers – Penn State
Frankie Sands – Norwich (transferring to Dartmouth)
Haley Schafer – Central Washington
Asinate Serevi – Central Washington
Nicole Snyder – Bloomsburg University
Nicole Strasko – Life University
Naya Tapper – USA 7s / Univ. North Carolina
Stacey Bridges, Kimber Rozier and Sam Pankey are the faces of the newest National Development Academy (NDA), Scion. All three are Eagles (Bridges and Rozier are World Cup-ers) and have represented the Sirens at the LVI 7s and Atlanta Festival 7s.
ARPTC is represented as well. Eagle Jess Wooden is back from injury, and fellow NDA alumna Hunter Griendling moves into the 15s pool. The former USA 7s resident earned her caps while ARPTC founder Julie McCoy served as Eagle head coach. Griendling knows Tapper and Kate Zachary, all three of whom were in the Olympic pool in 2016. Rozier, Deven Owsiany, Lauren Rhode, Bianca Dalal and Hannah Lockwood have all banked significant field time at the OTC.
Additionally, several players are supplementing their club seasons by aligning with elite entities like the Northeast and Atavus academies.
IN MOTION THIS WEEKEND
The DI and DII club championships occur Saturday in Glendale, Colo., which is fortuitously close to Greeley. The DI championship will, potentially, feature Seattle’s Elena Cantorna and Kelsi Stockert and Chicago North Shore’s Christiane Pheil. Catie Benson, Megan Foster, Jennifer Sever and Megan Pinson will feature in Life West’s DII appearance against Wisconsin.
The only conflicts with invitational tournament CRC 7s involves Penn State coach Kate Daley and player Cairns, and Life’s Strasko, all of whom will fly out to Denver on Sunday.
The camp will be at full strength for Monday morning, just in time for the second round of matches on Tuesday, June 7.