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 Facebook page. Learn more about the program through its GoFundMe campaign.
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. Those who wish to try out need to fill out this registration form. Invites go out June 7 and the roster will hopefully be finalized by June 9.
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 will hold a Top 60 camp in Milwaukee the first weekend in June. That assembly will produce the Thunderbirds squad that competes at 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.
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.
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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 squad finished 2nd overall), Orlando Pulou and Leti Hingano were running tryouts for the Peaks. Word is a 25-player roster has come together and will be announced shortly.
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.
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.
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