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Last month we shared the exciting news that the Captain of our NY Academy, Gio, was selected to attend the Women’s Junior All Americans U20s Camp in Greeley, CO. At just 16 years old this presented a challenge for her both mentally, physically and financially, but thanks to an outpouring of support she was able to attend. She shared with us a glimpse of her experience:

image5This summer I was given the amazing opportunity to train with some of the best players in the nation as the Women’s Junior All American squad assembled in preparation for their series against Canada in August. Spending a week in Greeley, CO with such talented players gave me a glimpse of what life as a high performance athlete is really like. I was playing the same sport with the same rules as back home, but it was the environment that really made the difference. Every day I was challenged in a different way and I was forced to decide what I was going to make of my time there.

Our schedules were packed with two 90 minute sessions each day, practice preview meetings, and most importantly nutrition and recovery time. At that level of competition, no one needed to be told to do the little things needed to ensure our success as individuals and as a squad. Each player was responsible for their own nutrition and ensuring they spoke to the trainers in their own time to be physically prepared for the upcoming training sessions. It was second nature for all of us because we were all focused on becoming better athletes.

Coaches Kate Daley, Kittery Wagner, and Wil Snape made sure there was a huge emphasis on a structured pattern of play, which was a very big change from the more free “just play rugby” mentality of the Play Rugby USA Academy. Also, living in such close proximity to my teammates allowed me to spend more time outside of training sessions with them, giving us a chance to really get to know each other. I met many athletes, most of them in college, that didn’t realize I was the youngest one there until the last day of camp.

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One of my favorite moments was an impromptu water balloon fight after our last training session together. We ended with some mobility exercises, stretching and yoga, then things took a turn when our manager beamed a water balloon at Coach Wil. We were all running around, letting loose after an intense session in 90 degree weather and it was great to see everyone having fun outside of rugby.

The short time I had in Colorado with the WJAA training squad was more than enough to solidify my belief in achieving one of my long term goals of becoming a USA Eagle. This camp was just a stepping stone in this journey to the women’s national team, and it was my first time at a USA Rugby camp. I was physically and mentally challenged to play above the level I was used to, and I absolutely enjoyed every moment of it.

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Without the support of my family, friends, teammates and the donors who contributed to the fund, I wouldn’t have been able to have had such an amazing experience. Thank you all for your best wishes and contributions in order to make this possible. I look forward to working hard for the next year and making the squad for a chance to represent our country.

Thank you again,

Gio

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