Goff Rugby Twitter     Goff Rugby Facebook

Exciting Start for Lindenwood Women

irish rugby tours

Exciting Start for Lindenwood Women

The Lindenwood University women's team is in the mist of the change. The DI program is NOT moving to DII (contrary to a previous report) but has welcomed a new full-time coach – Billy Nicholas from the Bronx – who only accepted the position two weeks ago. The Missouri side has good infrastructure, however, and Director of Rugby JD Stephenson has been leading the transition. So far, so good, as the women finished 2nd at Ruggapalooza (17-10 to DI women’s club Chicago) and defeated Northern Illinois 113-7 in its first Midwest conference match on Saturday.

Prior to his Midwest move, Nicholas coached the girls program at the Bronx Studio School for Writers and Artists (BSSWA), and his experiences there fed the desire to become a full-time coach. While he helped coach the Old Blue 7s women, for whom some of his BSSWA students played, he also met players from Lindenwood. The Lions had a full-time coach at the time, but by July, the position opened up, and Nicholas applied.

“It’s exciting to be on the other side,” Nicholas said. “In the Bronx, I spent so much time trying to find financial aid for kids so they could go to college, and now I’m in the position to give scholarships.”

There are many perks for players: tuition and room-and-board scholarships, beautiful campus, stadium, access to all facilities and training staff, etc. But Nicholas is enjoying this new experience of having players reach out to him, versus trying to align his BSSWA students with clubs around the country.

“High school players will start visiting in October,” Nicholas said of the next wave of recruits. “And working with [Women Eagle head coach Pete] Steinberg and [Women Junior All American coach Danielle] Miller, they’ve helped me learn who to recruit.”

In the meantime, Nicholas has a good core of players who will continue to drive the program forward until the coach can start going after those High School and Junior All Americans for 2015-16. Saturday’s 106-point win over NIU is an example of such.

“The girls wanted to set the tone with their first conference match of the season,” Nicholas said. “They did just that, as we were able to get each of our players significant playing time – a handful of players getting their first rugby match of their careers in today.”

Three players scored four tries apiece: Arianna Lewis, who was named Backs MVP of the Ruggapalooza tournament last weekend; Davon Thomas, who played for Old Blue 7s, which advanced to the Club 7s final in August; and Georgia Page. Amanda Divich, Morgan Michaud, Kim Shepard and Alexandra Knappe scored two tries apiece, and Taylor Bohlender contributed a five-pointer. Alexis Mild had four conversions.

The halfback combo of Michaud (scrumhalf) and captain Divich (flyhalf) was invaluable to keeping the team focused while the score ran rampant. The hard-running Shepard and Morgan Crowell led with physical forward attack, while Tianna Camous was the example of textbook tackles on defense.

“This is a new chapter for LU women’s rugby and we came out fired up,” Nicholas said. “It is going to be an exciting time here for this program the next few years, and today showed just that.”

Lindenwood will take on its most formidable opponent this Saturday, when it travels to play Davenport University.