Photos: Ken Langley
This weekend, the Midwest Thunderbirds return to the Can-Am Rugby Tournament in Saranac Lake, N.Y., and double their presence as both the U24s and senior all-stars enter the competition.
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The Midwest U-24s last competed in summer 2017 when they toured Ireland in conjunction with the Women’s Rugby World Cup. This year’s U24 team was selected from two player camps – one in Chicago, the other in Milwaukee – plus matches between Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa’s U-24 teams this spring. The team is led by Susan Whitwell, who stepped in as head coach late this spring, and supported by coaches Desiree Markovich and Xanthi Gerasimo.
Photo: Ken Langley
To keep travel costs low the team will be assembling in Pittsburgh and van-pooling to the Adirondacks this Thursday, and returning on Sunday.
“Its exciting to see this team come together again,” said Gerasimo, the Midwest U24 Forwards Coach. “I was honored to travel with the team to Ireland, and I’m looking forward to seeing the handful of veterans from that tour returning and being joined by an incredibly talented group of players from all over the Midwest.”
Photo: Ken Langley
Six states are represented on the U24 Thunderbirds: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Seven of the 19 players are competing on DII, DI or Women’s Premier League senior club teams, while the remainder are current student-athletes at DI or DII colleges.
Gerasimo admitted that reactivating the Midwest U24 program after a year’s hiatus has been an effort, but the opportunity to put the Thunderbirds back on the pitch has made the work worth it.
Congratulations to the following athletes on their selection:
MIDWEST U24 THUNDERBIRDS
Megan Bird – Davenport University
Scout Cheeks – Pittsburgh Forge
Mackenzie Dirlam – Pittsburgh Forge
Brooke Doerscher – University of Minnesota
Hannah Fultz – Iowa State University
Maggie Hackett – University of Wisconsin – Madison
Mallory Hammitt – Iowa State University
Ben Hershik – Chicago Lions
Emily Hranchook – Detroit
AJ (Alyssa) Inacay – Chicago North Shore
Maggie Knight – University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
Emily Krahn – Winona State University
Erin Nieman – University of Minnesota
Jordyn Peirce – Milwaukee Scylla
Lydia Rose – University of Northern Iowa
Ciara Staneraon-Edwards – University of Northern Iowa
Tara Viken – University of Minnesota
Autumn White – Minnesota State University – Mankato
Chloe Wickstrom – Pittsburgh Forge
Sue Whitwell – Metropolis Valkyries
Desiree Markovich – Pittsburgh Forge
Xane Gerasimo – Univ. Wisconsin – Stout