There’s a multi-level all-star event occurring in St. Petersburg, Fla., this weekend, Feb. 18-19. The USA South U18s are hosting the Midwest High School Thunderbirds and Elite Girls Rugby League (EGRL) in a two-day, 15s round robin. On Sunday, the senior select sides from the Midwest and South will take the pitch after the high school games have concluded, and they mark a new addition to this annual Florida series.
The Midwest’s “Baby Birds” have been flying south for their winter 15s tour for years now (read more), and the USA South U18s have been happy hosts (read more). At the urging of USA Rugby Women’s High Performance Pathways Manager Martha Daines, the EGRL formed its first-ever 15s select side this year (read more) and also travel to Florida for a larger event.
Also new this year is the addition of two senior club all-star programs, and their presence is a tangible example of the opportunities ahead for those teenagers who will be watching the game in Florida. The USA South announced its roster earlier this month (read more). Midwest Thunderbirds head coach Todd Fabec and assistant coach Libby Berg have selected 21 players from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to represent the region in Florida:
Megan Ahnen – Fort Wayne, Ind.
Esther Anderson – Chicago United, Ill.
Maria Bashmakov – Chicago North Shore, Ill.
Monica Christian – Cincinnati Kelts, Ohio.
Anabel Diaz – Chicago Lions, Ill.
Mackenzie Dirlam-Cardamone – Pittsburgh Forge, Pa.
Izzi Gibbon – Cincinnati Kelts, Ohio
Sunny Groters – Grand Rapids, Mich.
Emilee Jalosuo – Metropolis Valkyries, Minn.
Raven Jones – Cincinnati Kelts, Ohio
Lynn Kleyer – Twin Cities, Minn.
Mary Kuhner – Columbus, Ohio
Emily Ramsey – Akron, Ohio
Katiana Rodriguez – Fort Wayne, Ind.
Karina Sarver – Pittsburgh Forge, Pa.
Brittany Salter-Sheridan – Detroit, Mich.
Maureen Salter-Sheridan – Detroit, Mich.
Brooke Schraffenberger – Detroit, Mich.
Loren Schlei – Wisconsin
Kristle Teng – Twin Cities, Minn.
Reneé Whittenberger – Pittsburgh Forge, Pa.
The USA South and Midwest’s second team last saw each other in the 2022 Mary Graham All-Star 15s Competition and battled for the Tier 2 championship. The South won that match 53-5 (read more). The Thunderbirds won the Tier 1 championship (read more).