BOULDER, Colo. – The dog days of summer is the season of sevens for men’s and women’s senior clubs across the country, but for high school standouts, including 15 future D1A players, the summer lends opportunities to hone their skills in 15s and get themselves on a National radar.
On Wednesday, July 16, the USA Rugby Stars and Stripes Camp concluded its three-day all-star assembly with a scrimmage, while the Boy’s High School All-American team played its first of four matches on its summer tour in Argentina.
Stars and Stripes, a high school all-star assembly that consisted of over 90 boys and girls, included 12 players who will be continuing their education and rugby careers at D1A universities. Although the camp participants collect free swag and hone their skills through drills, the real privilege for the attendees is the chance to cement themselves on USA Rugby’s national radar.
“These events, like the Regional All-Star Tournaments and the Stars and Stripes, give these guys an opportunity to show what they can do, and I think that’s super important,” said University of Oklahoma Head Coach Jason Horowitz.
The camp also offers a unique perspective of what it takes to bond with new teammates who come from different areas of the country and have different backgrounds – an experience that will be comparable to the one recent high school graduates will face in just a month’s time when they step on campus as a college student for the first time.
“Of course the players at camp learn from the coaching staff, but they get a heck of a lot out of living, eating, breathing and being with guys who are in a similar position as them from different parts of the country,” explained Horowitz, who was in attendance at the Stars and Stripes scrimmages at the University of Northern Colorado. “That’s part of the maturation process of a good high school rugby player to an emerging collegiate player at a school with a deep program with a bunch of great athletes.”
Meanwhile, the Boy’s High School All-Americans have two full weeks in Argentina to build the chemistry needed to win matches. And following a 48-8 tour-opening loss to local Cordoba Academy, the boys will need to take advantage of Head Coach Salty Thompson’s tutelage over the next few weeks as their remaining schedule is quite daunting with matches against Argentina U-18, Italy U-18 and Uruguay U-18/U-19.
D1A Players at Stars and Stripes:
Michael Marino – Iona College
Somtochukwu Iromuanya – University of Oklahoma
Courtland Smith: Wheeling Jesuit University
Alex Maughan: Life University
Renzo Gonzales: Texas A&M University
Trevor Rothhass: Davenport University
Connor Marsh: Indiana University
Manny Soto: University of Oklahoma
Sean O’Neil: Lindenwood University
Justin Brown: Texas A&M University
Christopher Nilson: University of Colorado
Chayce Pannell: Life University
D1A Players on the High School All-American Team:
Connor Cudeback: Cal Poly
Viliami Helu: Saint Mary’s College
Wesley Parker: Lindenwood University