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EIRA Girls Camp Lights a Fire

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EIRA Girls Camp Lights a Fire

Action from the EIRA girls camp in Eklhart, Ind. Alex Goff photo.

Eagle Impact Rugby Academy is holding camps at Moose Rugby Grounds in Indiana for high school players, and if there's anything new about it all, it's the number of girls involved.

With no 15-a-side select-side or all-star events planned for this summer for high school teams, this assembly is the only way for some players to take that next step they are looking for. About 45 girls attended the girls assembly, with several saying that the fact that they would be playing 15s, not 7s, was a major attraction. Many girls HS leagues around the country have shifted to 7s because of recruiting struggles, or because of COVID influences. 

"In my hometown we don't have 15s; EIRA's trying to grow that so I want to be a part of it," said Leilani Lepe, who plays for Empire in Southern California. And since 15s is what colleges concentrate on, these players want to get that experience. The girls were put through their paces as backs and forward, and then played actual competitive games on the final day.

For some, the most important part was the scrum work, which was new to many of them, and even if it wasn't, the technique and working with coaches and players who demand a higher level of execution was an education.

"I actually really liked Paul's coaching," said Carmela Campbell of Carmel HS in Indiana, referring to Santa Clara Head Coach Paul Keeler, who handled a lot of the scrum work. "He said it's an Argentinean scrum style and I loved it. Our scrum was super tight and I really liked using the scrum machine and just driving it back."

All of the work is designed to lay the foundation for a trip abroad, probably next year and then years after that. For some players, they will have aged out by then, but they want it to happy regardless. 

"We'd like to set it up for the younger rugby players," said Carmel HS forward Mary Akers.

Added Lepe: "We actually feel like we can build that."

"I'n really interested in that," said Zaria Watson, who, at 13, was the youngest player there. "Getting more experience in rugby and just meeting new people from places I've never been and exploring that with my team and and playing against other countries is pretty cool. 


Ironically, this program's next activity will be in 7s. EIRA will take a U16 team to the NAI 7s. They will concentrate on U16 specifically because they want to have the same players for a few years to help grow the program.

Mike Cressler has worked with EIRA to oversee the development of the girls program, but the coaching staff has increased dramatically since then.

"The coaches we've had have been doing an incredible job and we're getting younger coaches to be a part of it," said Program Director Salty Thompson.

"Just how they teach things and they explain it very thoroughly and give a lot of good detail," added Watson. "And the people around you—it's a very good environment to be around."


For more on Eagle Impact Rugby Academy go to: EIRARugby.org