Life University continued to expand their influence on rugby in America with three very successful summer camps for HS rugby players.
"We started our summer camp program three summers ago as we were set to embark on our first year of undergraduate competition,” said Life Director of Rugby Dan Payne. “The first year we had our High School Skills Camp and it reached capacity. Last summer we added our position specific skills camp and it reached capacity. This summer we added a third option to our menu, and it too reached capacity. As we continue to grow as a program, it's imperative we work to help high school players develop in both their skill and their appreciation for our great game.”
Payne said 14 of his program’s 16 incoming freshmen took part in one of Life’s camps, including three identified only this summer.
“Moving forward, I foresee our summer camp system continue and strengthen as our primary talent identification tool," added Payne.
"The Life University rugby staff and facilities impressed at every level,” added Steve Lynch, who is Director of Rugby for the All Navy Rugby Select XV & VII, and runs the GTMO RFC Men’s, Boys and Girls programs. “I personally witnessed significant growth and understanding over 12 days of camp from the beginner to the elite players, along with the coaches that attended as guests of the program. Dan and his staff provide the perfect blend of elite level rugby, coached by the best in the sport while maintaining a comfortable, nurturing, environment. I attended as a coach while also having three of my high school players, including my son, attend all three camps as campers. It was first-rate in every regard."
Life’s High School Camp covers the basic skills required to play the game. The Position Specific Skills Camp is three days working skills specific to each position. The Elite Competition Camp focuses on live matches and coaching based on the live matches and preparation for the next match
HS Skills Camp and the Position Specific Camp sessions were led by Scott Lawrence, USA U20 Head Coach, Gavin Hickie, USA U20 Forwards Coach and former Leinster Hooker, Alex Houser, assistant coach at Arkansas State, Neil McMillan, former Sale, Ulster and Harlequins professional player and current NYAC player, Tui Osborne, Life University 7s coach and former USA player, and James Isaacson, current Life Super League Head Coach, and former professional player for Leeds and Newcastle, other Life University players.
This was the first year for the Elite Competition Camp. After the first day of camp the teams were selected into two teams: Team Emerick, and Team Petri.
Both teams had a supporting cast of coaches from those listed above, and were headed up by current Eagles Mike Petri and Paul Emerick.
"Our camps are only as good as the staff we assemble and we'll continue to work hard to assemble the very best,” said Payne. “I can't say enough about the staff members and their hard work towards helping the campers develop throughout their stay with us. In addition to the many former professional players, our own US Eagles in Paul Emerick and Mike Petri, Alex Houser, a rapidly rising coach in the USA, and our own Life University staff with Scott Lawrence, James Isaacson and Tui Osborne, I'm confident we were able to provide the environment necessary to ensure our campers leave improved players. We keep our camps capped between 65-70 campers per camp to make sure we have the proper camper-to-clinician ratio.
“It was a great two weeks and a lot of work by all involved, but everyone had a great experience, campers and staff. It's a great sign of growth and continued progress for our great game. We're excited about the future and will continue to do all we can to help foster that growth."