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American Raptors Sign on Paul Emerick as Head Coach

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American Raptors Sign on Paul Emerick as Head Coach

Paul Emerick joins the American Raptors.

Glendale, Colo.-based American Raptors have announced that all-time USA great Paul Emerick has been named the team's Head Coach.

Emerick, who earned 54 caps with the Eagles and played in three Rugby World Cups, was a crossover athlete himself when he picked up rugby at the University of Northern Iowa after playing one year of football in college.

“I’m so excited,” Emerick said of his new role. “I was always a big fan of the idea and have been behind this mission 100 percent.”

The Raptors are the team that used to be called the Colorado XOs and are the result of a plan to take American athletes from other sports and teach them to become championship rugby players. Emerick was a wrestler and a football player before he became the first back in United States rugby history to earn more than 50 caps. He is looking forward to helping the next generation of crossover athletes achieve new heights in the game of rugby.

“To work with these guys, and try to upskill them and get them on a steep learning curve is exciting,” Emerick said. “Obviously winning games is the mark of a good program, but if we start sending guys over to Europe and some bigger clubs and ultimately into the national team, that’s our goal. It’s not out of the realm. Within two or three years of getting some of these guys, we should start turning our focus towards the national team. Myself and [Defense Coach] Luke Gross are living proof that if you get upskilled and you’re an athlete true to the word, anything is possible.”

Emerick’s professional career included stops at Amatori Catania and Overmach Parma in Italy, Dragos in Wales, Ulster in Ireland, and the London Wasps. He also competed in 17 sevens competitions with the United States from 2002-2010.

He comes to the Raptors serving four seasons as the Skills and Defense Coach for the Houston SaberCats. His stop in Houston included a stint as the Interim Head Coach where he led the team to a 4-1 record to close out the 2019 season. He coached at the Air Force Academy before joining the SaberCats in 2018.

Emerick will join a team of experienced coaches that have already made the American Raptors’ crossover experiment a successful one. With the addition of Emerick, Mark Bullock will return to his duties as the Director of Rugby. Bullock served as the program’s Head Coach for the 2021 season which was his 35th year as a rugby coach. Peter Pasque continues as General Manager. His job is to find the players. Sarah Chobot has been promoted to Assistant Head Coach. The three-time All American from Central Michigan played 10 years in the Women's Premier League and was capped 25 times by the USA. 

“The guys that we have in are such incredible young men,” Chobot said. “It’s always exciting to be a part of something game-changing.”

Luke Gross remains the Forwards and Defense coach heading into 2022. A basketball standout for Indiana State and Marshall University before taking rugby seriously at age 24, Gross went on to earn 62 caps for the United States (a record at the time) and appeared in three Rugby World Cups, and play for several of the top clubs in Europe from 1997 to 2007. He was inducted into the US Rugby Hall of Fame in 2019.

Mose Timoteo remains on staff as the Backs and Attack Coach. The first American Samoan to play for the United States, Timoteo went on to earn 32 caps for the Eagles and played with Gross and Emerick in the 2003 Rugby World Cup. Timoteo also appeared in 28 Sevens World Series tournaments for the United States and played in the 2001 and 2005 RWC 7s.

“(Assistant Head Coach) (Sarah) Chobot is a great rugby mind, (Backs and Attack Coach) Mose (Timoteo) has a great skills and attacking mind, and (Defense Coach) Luke (Gross) they are all fantastic coaches in their own right,” Emerick said of the staff. “Now it’s all about facilitating who likes to do what, who is passionate about what parts of the game, and we will operate as one cohesive unit.”

Travis Haugen (Performance Analyst), Jacob Nelson (S&C), Scott Niles (Rugby Coordinator), and Lee Ann hewitt (Athletic Trainer) round out the coaching staff.