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Updates from ATAVUS HS Resident Camp

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Updates from ATAVUS HS Resident Camp

The King of 7s at the ATAVUS HS Resident Camp.

Players from all over the country are wrapping up the ATAVUS summer High School Resident Camp in Seattle, working with top coaches, including international stars Waisale Serevi, Emilie Bydwell, Pate Tuilevuka, and Shawn Pittman.

Above, Waisale Serevi observes contact work. Below, Carly McKinnon works with players on passing. Bottom, Mel Denham gives some pointers. Click on image to enlarge.
Atavus Camp
Atavus Camp

The players work on skill development and rugby understanding, but also on off-the-field aspects of the game, from college prep, to mental skills, to strength & conditioning. In addition, ATAVUS coaches are in close contact with USA Rugby High Performance staff to help identify promising young talent they see.

“We accumulate data and track the athletes’ data through the different events,” said Bydwell, current USA WNT player and Head of Rugby Programming at ATAVUS. “And what we also do is flag players for Alex Magleby for the boys and Farrah Douglas and Pete Steinberg for the girls. We rank them on athletic potential and current skill ability. We’re definitely excited about some of the athletes we’ve seen.”

Two boys from the current camp will play with the ATAVUS All-Stars at the Serevi RugbyTown 7s in Glendale, Colo.

“It will be a really nice opportunity for us to work with those players further, and we will make sure to communicate with USAR Athletes and work through the appropriate age grade programs to monitor their progress,” said Bydwell.

The players are divided into three groups by age and ability; the girls were separated into their own group and progressed together, but at times where appropriate the girls were mixed in with the boys. The goal is to have competitive games across the age grades at the end of the week, and make sure that every athlete is challenged to the point where they are stretched to improve under pressure.  

But all in every group have things to work on, especially core skills such as catch-pass development. 

“We try to get 20 to 30 minutes each day on catch pass,” said Bydwell. “We wanted the athletes to go away physically better passers and more comfortable on the ball. We need to make sure that American kids are technically strong. They haven’t had a lot of time with a rugby ball in their hands. Catch-pass skills are extremely important, and so are tackling skills and breakdown management. We break down the technical skill, and use games to emphasize those skills.”

Success, said Bydwell, is seeing the athletes execute the skills they’ve learned under pressure during the games at the end of camp.  We want the athletes to go away feeling like they were challenged, put in new situations, given key takeaways that they can bring home with them and finally that they are more comfortable with the ball in their hands. 

But there’s a grander scheme to it all. As this is the USA Rugby Academy, Powered by ATAVUS, talent identification and tracking are all part of it.

“We try to put them in a more pressured environment so we can find athletes that should be projected up the pathway quickly.  But it’s not only about finding them, it’s about doing everything that we can to help them develop during the time we are with them and give them the tools they need to be a complete athlete moving forward.“ said Bydwell.