The 2nd Annual USA U23 15s National Championship is June 23-25 in Des Moines, Iowa. The tournament not only provides next-level competition and exposure to all-star coaching, but it is a USA Pathways event and thus identification venue for the USA U23s. Led by head coach Katie Dowty, the USA U23s will play the Canada U23s in July, and those matches will occur at the New England Free Jacks’ home pitch, Veterans Memorial Stadium, in Quincy, Mass.
RELATED: 2022 U23 All-Star Contacts & Rosters
There used to be U23 nationals back when there were territorial unions, and after a years-long hiatus, the championship returned in 2022. But that dormancy meant that most U23 programs (the Midwest is the notable exception) had to start from scratch, so finding information can be tough. So! The following seeks to provide basic information on active teams, contact information, event dates, etc. Updates occur on a recurring basis and rosters will post as they’re announced.
2023 U23 All-Star 15s Championship
June 23-25, Des Moines, Iowa
USA U23 Head Coach
Katie Dowty, email@example.com
The Mustangs bring players together from the Mid-America and Texas rugby unions. Returning head coach KJ Abel Ruch is the main contact, and is backed by assistant coaches Kris Karsten, Sarah Dickerson and Brodie Orth. The prime vehicle for information appears to the program’s Instagram page, which is releasing player selections in individual posts:
Elena Gregg – New Orleans Halfmoons, La.
Jasmin Johme – Wayne State College, Neb.
Dylan Kipp – Houston Athletic, Texas
Gabby Norman – Univ. Texas
Taylor Owen – Univ. Central Missouri
Ireland Pelletier – Round Rock, Texas
Yuming Ren – San Antonio, Texas
Ragan Rodriguez – Wayne State College, Neb.
Hailey Skoch – Univ. Arkansas
Kamryn Sparks – Round Rock, Texas
Izzy Tali – Independence Youth Rugby, Mo.
Haley Thompson – Round Rock, Texas
Grace Wilhite – Oklahoma City Crusaders, Okla.
Rebekah Williams – Sam Houston State Univ, Texas
Abbie Winchester – Wichita, Okla.
The Mid-Atlantic involves players from Pennsylvania, Virginia, D.C., West Virginia, Delaware and Maryland. Kate Daley is the program manager and main contact (email). Head coach is Kat Aversano, Josie Ziluca is backs coach, and Shilo Shalosky is forwards coach. The talent ID day is June 4 at Mount St. Mary’s Univ. in Emmitsburg, Md.
As mentioned, the Midwest is well organized (read the 2022 overview of the program). Eight state all-star teams competed at the Midwest U23 championship on May 20-21 in Milwaukee, Wis. (read more). Organizers also made rosters available to the public.
The main Thunderbird U23 coaches and contacts are Xane Gerasimo (e-mail) and Meghan Flanigan (e-mail), and they are involved with the Wisconsin U23s and Iowa U23s programs, respectively. They scouted the Midwest U23 tournament for Thunderbird candidates and held a selection camp in Milwaukee the first weekend in June. That assembly produced the following Thunderbirds squad for nationals. The Midwest finished second to the South in 2022. (The Thunderbirds are also very active at the HS and adult club levels, and really do set the example for other regions.)
Alina Ampeh – UIUC / IWRFC
Emma Bacon – Univ. Northern Iowa
Bailey Barton – Purdue Univ.
Ciare Blye – Pittsburgh Forge
Susannah Church – Univ. Northern Iowa
Erica Coulibaly – Univ. Iowa
A’Yani D’Avilar – Metropolis Valkyries
Madie Dunn – Iowa State Univ.
Izzi Gibbon – Cincinnati Kelts
Annie Henderson – Univ. Northern Iowa
Loren Henich – Chicago Lions
Jessi Inman – Univ. Northern Iowa
Abbey Jacobs – UW Eau Claire / Twin Cities Amazons
Emily Johnston-Quinn – Twin Cities Amazons
Lauren Kuffel – Chicago Lions / Univ. Michigan
Alivia Leatherman – Notre Dame College
Morgan Linck – Univ. Northern Iowa
Amaryha McGowan – Univ. Iowa
Kaitlynn Moore – UW Eau Claire
Keishanique Moton-Tyler – Univ. Iowa
Josie Rogers – Twin Cities Amazons
Abbey Terpstra – Quinnipiac Univ.
Jayla Twitty – Cincinnati Kelts
Destiny Worthy – Midwest At-Large
Madison Cofer – Ohio Wesleyan Univ.
Ryley Rand – Marquette Univ.
Staff: Head coach Meghan Flanigan; asst. coaches Sue Whitwell & Xane Gerasimo; managers Jade & Tat Reed
MLR’s New England Free Jacks launched a Women’s Independents U23 program (read more), and it is the USA Pathways National Development Program (NDP) for the region. Coaches include Morgan Roberts, Stacey Markovic, Olivia Benzan-Daniel, Sarah Harkness and USA Eagle Bridget Kahele, and they led three talent ID sessions before naming their extended squad below. Last year, the region competed under the Northeast Academy banner, but that organization has since shuttered, and the question is whether players in the Empire GU area fall outside of the Independents’ sphere. More to come. Contact Thomas Grant for more info and follow @freejacksacademy on Instagram for updates.
|Rebecca||Anderson||Hooker||Univ British Colombia||Belmont, MA|
|Talia||Avestras||Scrumhalf||Salve Regina Univ||North Andover, MA|
|Ali||Banks||Center||Univ Maine at Farmington||Hudson, MA|
|Gracen “Gigi”||Barter||Wing||Salve Regina Univ||Greenwich, CT|
|Dakota||Benson||Flanker||Salve Regina Univ||Stratford, CT|
|Erin||Bergeron||Flanker/FB||UMass Amherst||Middleton, MA|
|Salma||Bezzat||Prop/Hook||Univ New England||Malden, MA|
|Jenna||Clukey||Flyhalf||Bowdoin College||Dover-Foxcroft, ME|
|Margaret||Devlin||Utility Fwd||UConn||Walpole, MA|
|Tess||Downes||Prop||UMass Amherst||Duxbury, MA|
|Sarah||Gray||Center||Roger Williams Univ||Freeport, ME|
|Natalie||Hill||Second or Back Row||Northwestern Univ||Belmont, MA|
|Maura||Hough||Lock||Dartmouth College||Wilmette, IL|
|Erin||Jessop||Prop||Brown Univ||Vacaville, CA|
|Adrianna||Johnson||Wing||Howard Univ||New Haven, CT|
|Skylar||Jordan||Fullback||Harvard Univ||Whitman, MA|
|Sadie||Kabrhel||Scrumhalf||Univ Toronto||Belmont, MA|
|Kianna||Mahony||Hooker||Beantown||Calgary, Alberta Canada|
|Ellen||O’Connor||Center||Trinity College (IRE)||Sudbury, MA|
|Kaitlyn||Quinn||Flyhalf||Endicott College||Salem, NH|
|Katherine||Ryan||Second or Back Row||Long Island Univ||Buffalo, NY|
|Jourdan||VanAmburgh||Back Row||Endicott College||Bethlehem, NY|
|Erin||Wholey||Back Three||Beantown||Belmont, MA|
|Emma||Wright||Utility Fwd||Roger Williams Univ||Manchester, NH|
The Pacific Coast Grizzlies merge the NorCal U23 and the Pacific Northwest U23 programs (similar to how New England and Empire merge to form the Northeast). Berkeley Eagle Evan Hoese is the point of contact for the NorCal U23s — not to be confused with the California Grizzlies, which is run by Life West’s Adriaan Ferris and provides opportunities outside of the USA Pathway. NorCal traveled to Seattle on April 28 to play the Pacific Northwest (see rosters), which is run by program director Heidi Whitman, and the MLR curtain-raiser served as a selection venue for the Pacific Coast Grizzlies squad. For on-going information, follow @pnwws_rugby and @pnrfu on Instagram.
Also big fans of what the Pacific Northwest is doing with its high school (Loggers) and senior club select sides. Like the Midwest, it’s setting up an actual, connected pathway that not only leads to the USA but also brings visibility to on-going opportunities.
Joanne Absher is the primary contact for the Pacific South Griffins and has selected the 23-player team for Iowa. The southern and central coasts of California account for 15 players, and they hail from the senior club and DI and DII college ranks. Arizona accounts for six selections, while New Mexico has two representatives.
Jackie Bangle – UC Santa Barbara
Vianney Bernal – New Mexico State
Jada Blair – San Diego State Univ
Caroline Bullock – Claremont Colleges
Yasmin Chapparo – New Mexico State
Bianca Curtis – Grand Canyon Univ
Natalie Figueroa – San Diego State
Sam Garcia – Grand Canyon Univ
Kellan Gilroy – UC Santa Barbara
Abby Hall – UC Santa Barbara
Alexis Ingargiola – Cal Poly SLO
Erica Kinsel – UC Santa Barbara
Angel Lucero – Grand Canyon Univ
Brooke Medina – UC Irvine
Kimberly Medonza – MiraCosta College
Hannah Nelson – USC
Jade Ng – San Diego Surfers
Pearl Ng – San Diego Surfers
Sophia Nicholson – San Diego State Univ
Kalisi Po’oi – Grand Canyon Univ
Jocsellys Nieves – Arizona State
Kayla Walker – San Diego State Univ
Alizah Yrigolla – Grand Canyon Univ
The Rocky Mountain region was absent from 2022 competitions, but this year the Peaks will showcase players from Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. Chris Kovac, who runs the Hawkeye Academy, is the main contact. While Kovac was in Wisconsin for the Girls High School 15s National Tournament (where his Rocky Mountain team finished 2nd overall), Orlando Pulou and Leti Hingano were running tryouts for the Peaks:
Player – Current team (Hometown)
Michaela Adams – Colorado School of Mines (Monument, Colo.)
Lewanda Aspinall – BYU (Provo, Utah)
Bailey Ballard – BYU (Henderson, Nev.)
Elizabeth Buckner – Montana State Univ. (Kalispell, Mont.)
Jenalei Fifita – Lindenwood (Orem, Utah)
Dillyn Hadley – Boise State Univ. (Meridian, Idaho)
Kaelin Hirschi – BYU (Orem, Utah)
Malia Isaacs – Harvard (Sandy, Utah)
Emily Jagerhorn Colorado State Univ. (Rocklin, Calif.)
Makayla Komer – BYU (Provo, Utah)
Molly Kozasky – Saint Mary’s Univ. (Alhambra, Calif.)
Reina Lavulavu – At large, Springville, Utah
Laura LaVigne – Colorado Gray Wolves (Buffalo, N.Y.)
Aliya Lynn – Colorado School of Mines (Wellington, Colo.)
Gabi Meyer – BYU (Boulder, Colo.)
Avery Morgan – Mountain View HS (Meridian, Idaho)
Matalasi Morrissette – At large, Vineyard, Utah (Gainesville, Va.)
Lauryn Nazarene – St Mary’s Univ. (San Diego, Calif.)
Marley Parkinson – At large (Park City, Utah)
Emma Reimann Montana State Univ. (Parker, Colo.)
Aubrie Robinette – BYU (Las Vegas)
Sayler Russell – Long Island Univ. (Midway, Utah)
Falelua Stowers – At large (Provo, Utah)
Liz Tafuna – At large (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Makena Taumoepeau – Lindenwood Univ. (Saratoga Springs, Utah)
Now called the “South Reapers,” the 2022 U23 national champion brings together students and/or residents from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky. 2023 tryouts were May 13 in Raleigh, N.C., and the roster is below. Lisa Jackson is head coach and supported by Emily Roskopf, Bryan Colbridge, Kam Clapp and Darian Lovelace.
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There’s also a Carolinas GU U23 program that has been active this year. It’s run by Randy Little and Callie Woods, and there’s a very good resource page: https://www.cgru.rugby/u23. The team competed at D.C. Ruggerfest most recently: See roster.