The Rocky Mountain Magic return to the USA Rugby Club 7s National Championship and represent the host region, Frontier, this weekend. Seven return from the 2018 squad but all of the Kansas City-bound players are familiar, gaining notoriety in the Women’s Premier League, DI Elite, all-stars, among other high-level teams.
Last year, Rocky Mountain went 2-1 in pool play to advance to the Cup quarterfinals, where tougher opposition awaited and three losses followed. The Magic finished 8th overall. So as the team came together this year, it looked to intensify its competition and traveled out of the region to Austin’s Bloodfest, where teams like American Rugby Pro Training Center (ARPTC) and Berkeley featured.
“Bloodfest was a great early test for us,” Rocky Mountain 7s head coach Sam Enari reflected. “We were able to rise to the occasion to beat the All Blues and were gutted we didn’t make the final due to points differential. We are certainly leaps and bounds better than we were at Bloodfest.”
Some changes in terms of the roster and playing style evolved out of that outing, and then a small group of players traveled to Little Rock for a mini-camp with ARPTC and its coaching staff. Enari indicated that that trip did a lot in terms of mindset and confidence building.
“We knew, before Bloodfest, that we were not complete. We knew changes would be made and skill sets added. With that mindset we learned that we are good,” Enari explained. “We know we can hang with and beat the top programs in the country and we just need to focus on us and not adjust our structures to other teams. That is always easier said than done.”
Seven players return from last year’s nationals team: captain Jess Dombrowski, vice captain Kristin Kaderabek, Frankie Beller, Alaina Enari, Alli Hale, Kacy Lorber and Nichole Wanamaker. The newcomers are all known entities and include vice captain Rachel Ehrecke, Allie Schrenker, Charley Thompson, Selena Tuilaepa and Justine Wypych. During the regular season, these players represent the Women’s Premier League (WPL) and DI Glendale Merlins, Denver Black Ice, Lindenwood University, UT Chattanooga, as well as USA Touch, Collegiate All-Americans and WPL All-Stars.
“Jess Dombrowski is fantastic, calm, collected, highly skilled and elusive,” Enari praised the captain. “For some reason, she really likes people calling her ‘T-Bone.’”
Enari described Beller and vice captain Ehrecke as “the fix-all” for the team, and they pair their highly skilled and intelligent play with great voices around the pitch. Thompson and Schrenker set the tone for physicality, while Wypych and Hale balance their pace and eye for the line with level-headed play.
The coach lauded Wanamaker and vice captain Kaderabek for their second-to-none work rate and ability to boost energy on the field, and unsung heroes Tuilaepa and Enari who also put in the hard work and are very consistent. The “small but mighty” Lorber is quick off the line and has a great attitude, and injury reserve Riglie Reeves is “one of the most explosive power players from the whole summer,” per Enari.
“Mostly our team is fun to be around, and exciting to watch,” the coach summarized. “Our style will vary depending on the opponent and throughout the game. You can be sure to see some surprises on the weekend.”
Rocky Mountain is in Pool B, a tough draw. Scion Rugby Academy is bringing an experienced squad and always a title contender. The Washington Athletic Club also has the makings for a deep run and tuned up with games against Berkeley and Life West at regionals. The Santa Barbara Rugby Academy is the unknown in that it’s debuting at nationals this year, but the Kelly Griffin-driven team features several identified athletes.
“Our goal is to improve on the result from last year but we have to take care of business on day one, and Pool B is a hard pool,” Enari ended. “It’s tough but we feel ready for the challenge.”
The national championship kicks off at 10:00 a.m. Central (view full schedule) this Saturday, Aug. 10 and concludes with the women’s final at 5:20 p.m. Sunday. All games will be live-streamed via FloRugby.com.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN MAGIC
Jess Dombrowski (c)
Rachel Ehrecke (vc)
Kristin Kaderabek (vc)
POOL B SCHEDULE
SAT AUG 10 (Central Time)
1120 Scion v Santa Barbara
1140 Rocky Mountain v WAC
1420 Scion v WAC
1440 Rocky Mountain v Santa Barbara
1720 Scion v Rocky Mountain
1740 WAC v Santa Barbara