VANCOUVER, BC - Head Coach of the BC U18 women's provincial sevens rugby team Brad Skene has announced a roster of 12 players for the upcoming tour to Las Vegas in late January.
The list includes five returning players in Ciel Arbour-Boehme (Duncan), Jamie Beck (Houston), Nicole Crowley (Mill Bay), Autumn Garrett (Abbotsford) and Adrienne Saari (Duncan).
The coaching staff held selection trials in December and this past weekend ran a camp in Duncan as the program gears up for its second appearance at the Las Vegas High School Invitational Sevens.
"We had approximately 50 athletes trial for the team and the athletes were keen and cooperative," said Skene. "The weather was a small barrier but the athletes and staff pushed through and continue with energy and positive attitudes. There were a number of very difficult decisions regarding selection and unfortunately some very strong athletes and rugby players are not traveling with us to Vegas."
The five returnees have plenty of representative experience and were apart of last year's squad that placed third in their inaugural Vegas appearance.
"Most of our players have been in pressure playoff situations and have responded with strong performances," Skene said. "With the location of the tournament being in Vegas, it's not necessarily a distraction but there is a substantial drive and the number of fields being used and the number of teams and players makes the site a bit chaotic. The leadership of those five will help us stay grounded, provide answers and directions to the new kids and create a calmer environment."
Arbour-Boehme, Crossley, and Garrett also suited up for BC's U16 provincial 15s team this past summer and were crowned National champions after an undefeated campaign in Vancouver. Key leadership will also come from Chantal MacLean (Surrey) and Nakisa Levale (Abbotsford) who were on the U16 roster. Lauren Kerr suited up for BC's silver medal winning U18 team at Nationals and attended the Las Vegas tournament with invitational side BC Banshees in 2013.
"Chantal has shown a work ethic that drives the players around her and Nakisa has a calmness and urgency that will help our execution," Skene said. "Lauren Kerr competed with the Banshees last year and her experience and knowledge will be key in a half back role."
There are currently 15 teams registered for the Girls High School division with representation from both American and Canadian sides. Canadian teams include the Ontario Blues (currently U18 15s national champions) and Edmonton Gold. American opposition includes 2013 Vegas 7s champions ICEF of LA, as well as Serevi Selects, Minnesota Tundra, Black Mambas Girls, Fort Collins Hammers, Glendale Raptors, APEX, Hilo Reign Rugby Club, Swarm and BC Banshees.
"Our goals this year are to develop the players' skill level, to executive fundamental strategies and to compete in every aspect of the game," Skene added. "I would like to say one of our goals is to be in the final, but it is so difficult to predict how the opposition will play without having previous knowledge of them. This is a great situation for our players to test themselves against strong competition."
In addition, Skene has been appreciative of the support the program has received in fielding the U18 sevens team for a second straight year.
"Thanks for the support of the provincial body and the high schools and clubs who are working hard to develop athletes so that they can compete at an elite level," Skene said. "The quality of recruiting and coaching at the grass roots is key to the development of our elite teams."
For more information on the Las Vegas High School Invitational Sevens visit www.usasevens.com
BC U18 Sevens Roster
*Ciel Arbour-Boehme (Cowichan Rugby Club / Brentwood College / Duncan)
*Jamie Beck (Houston Secondary / Houston)
Sophia Belsher (Robert Bateman / Abbotsford)
*Caroline Crossley (Castaway Wanderers RFC / Oak Bay / Victoria)
Nicole Crowley (UVic Vikes / Cobble Hill)
Madi Gold (GP Vanier / Merville)
*Autumn Garrett (Robert Bateman Secondary / Abbotsford)
Lauren Kerr (Abbotsford RFC / Robert Bateman / Abbotsford)
Nakisa Levale (Abbotsford RFC / Abbotsford Sr Secondary / Abbotsford)
Chantal MacLean (Abbotsford RFC / Clayton Heights / Surrey)
Hannah Morten (Cowichan Rugby Club / Cowichan Secondary / Duncan)
*Adrienne Saari (Cowichan Rugby Club / Cowichan Secondary / Duncan)
*Denotes returning player from 2013 provincial sevens team
Head Coach - Brad Skene
Assistant Coach - Jodie Cornell
Manager - Marlene Donaldson