Charity Tenney en route to a try against Danville.
United gleaned some pre-season interest when players from the now-defunct Orem Lady Stallions transferred their membership this spring 15s season. Orem had the best back line in Utah, and much of that success was sustained through a very talented family that has played together for years now.
The Stowers and Tenneys are first cousins and supplied well knowns like Eternity Tenney (now playing at BYU), Utah Lions Kat Stowers and Lewanda Aspinall, and Player of the Week Charity Tenney, among others. Together, this core group led Orem to previous three 15s state titles and two 7s state championships, and have now enhanced United’s firepower. That fact was demonstrated on Friday, when United defeated visiting Danville 34-26. (Danville went on to beat Herriman 33-5 on Saturday.)
“Success seems to follow these girls,” United coach Matt Kanenwisher enthused.
It was no surprise that Tenney was at the center of a major early-season, confidence-boosting victory.
“She has a well developed understanding of the game with outstanding individual skills,” Kanenwisher praised the center. “She is quick off the line and is rarely run down once she makes a break. She is a fierce tackler, ball-runner’s size doesn’t seems to matter. She has a knack for hauling in the occasional errant pass and has a flat accurate pass herself.”
Tenney accounted for three of six tries against Lady Oaks.
“The single biggest factor in Charity’s success is her work rate and aggression,” the coach continued. “It’s not unusual for her to run down a ball-runner who broke past a fellow defender, get quick to her feet and poach the ball, and be back on the attack moving quickly. Charity moves as well without the ball as she does with it. Good players go looking for work, and Charity seems to find it consistently. She has great vision for the next phase and one after – this is something that is really hard to teach.”
As United assesses the rest of its season, the league game against Herriman stands out, but there’s a divide in talent between the rest of the field. United will have to stay focused and driven as it builds toward nationals, where the Utah side will play three competitive matches over two days.
“No team is successful on the strength of one or two players,” Kanenwisher explained. “She is a natural leader in the best way. She is quiet at times, but when she goes to work on the field, her teammates want to follow, they want to keep up. This portion of her game, the ability to bring other players with her, was a big part of United’s win over Danville. With a game that intense against players of that size, it would have been easy for players to be intimidated or back off. But they see her go hard regardless of the outcome and they are emboldened. Her support of fellow players is one of the most potent weapons that she can bring to a team.”
Expect to see more of Tenney as the years progress. As a member of the Utah Lions Rugby Academy, she’ll continue to travel and play up, including a trip to the United World Games in Austria this June. Ultimately, she wants to represent the USA on a national teams, and in the meantime, the junior with a 3.96 GPA and interest in computer science is scouting college programs.