Countdown to Nationals! #7

Lucky Number Seven!

For tonight’s countdown item,  we’ve got our Forwards Captain, Liz Baker-Jennings, telling us about her experiences at the “National All Star Competition” Eagle’s Camp 2015!

Take it away Liz!

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(Liz and Jon, NASC 2015)

The NASC (National All Star Competition) was an amazing experience, and a chance to play high-level rugby with some of the most skilled players in the country. The best part about camp for me was the camaraderie that developed immediately – we met our teammates on Saturday, and by the end of the day Sunday we had played 80 minutes, and it felt like we had been a team forever. What a wonderful sport this is; even when you are competing for coveted spots on the national team, you can be friends, and encourage and support your teammates selflessly. Even now, nearly a year later, I see my Thundercat teammates at tournaments and events across the country, and we greet each other as rugby sisters.

You always learn a lot about rugby when you play with people better than you, but the biggest focus of camp was learning what it takes to be an elite athlete – how to eat, how to train, how to prepare yourself physically and mentally for game day. It’s a mindset and a lifestyle. Camp taught us to be smarter players, better teammates, and stronger athletes.
Getting to experience the coaching of Pete Steinberg (the other coach in Greeley was our own Jon Mooney, who I am lucky enough to be coached by 3 times a week!); getting to eat, sleep, and breathe rugby for six days straight; getting the chance to spend a week with these amazing athletes on and off the field was an experience I will never forget, and will always be thankful for.
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(Liz is 4th from left, bottom row)

And it wasn’t just Liz who went to NASC and tore it up!

Black Ice is super stoked to be able to say that not only were we represented by Liz and Jon, but also selected for attendance were Alice “Boot” Plant, Kemi Adewunmi, Blaine Martin, and Amie Kern (selected for the medical team).

With this much skill, talent, and knowledge on one team, we just HAD to include this in the countdown!!!

Our Backs Captain, Kemi, has actually gone to NASC twice. She shared her thoughts with us as well!

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(Kemi [left], with Jon and Blaine)

Being selected for NASC was a surprise for me, I remember calling Alice to make sure it wasn’t some type of a scam.Then faster than I could wrap my head around it I was on a plane to DC, right after playing two grueling games at Regionals, for a week full of rugby with the top 100 senior players in the nation.

One of the best ways the NASC’s have improved my playing has been my involvement in play. After the first game I was told to be more involved instead of just hanging back and waiting for the ball to come to me and by the last game I literally felt like I was in every phase of play. The last game we lost by a kick but I ended up scoring a try against Jon’s team.

As I was taking my boots off I was approached by one of members of the national teams coaching staff told I was one of the players they were considering to play in the Super Series in Canada 2015. By the next day I found out I was one of the non-traveling reserves, I’m still surprised this all happened and is  still happening, I will be off to another NASC this June in Greeley, Colorado.  I definitely think my decision to go to these past camps have made me a more confident rugby player and makes me want to work harder than ever before.

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(Kemi [center], NASC camp, Washington DC, June 2015)

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