Potter and Naber offer inspiration.
GLENDALE – Infinity Park continues to be a hub for local rugby, even in the autumn months. The home stadium of the Glendale Raptors played host to the Colorado High School Girls State Championships in early November, an event which proved to be a strong indicator of how the sport has grown within the past year.
Hosted by Rugby Colorado, this year’s tournament drew nearly 900 spectators during the second weekend of November. Glendale girl’s high school head coach Robin Roberts believed it one of the best showings to date.
“I feel this years Championship Tournament was one of the better ones we’ve had to date. The format this season changed from having both 15’s and 7’s to strictly just 7’s, which really upped the level of competition as all the high school girls teams were playing 7’s,” Roberts said. “It ran smoothly, was at a great venue, and there was great competition all day. The girls love being able to play in the stadium and I feel the parents and fans love coming to Glendale to get this experience.”
USA Women’s Eagles Jillion Potter and Amy Naber were also in attendance, cheering on the younger athletes as well as providing some inspiration and a standard to strive for. As a player, Potter has brought local rugby to the international stage. The once member of the Glendale Raptors at the club level was able to showcase her talents in front of millions as a participant with the Eagles at this past summer’s Olympics in Rio. Her rugby celebrity status resulted in many photo request from the high school tournament participants, and she was happy to oblige.
Said Roberts, “She’s an amazing athlete and such an inspiration to many. I was lucky enough to have had the chance to play with her when she first came to Glendale and she is just a workhorse on the pitch and I loved that about her! We took many pictures with her after the tournament was over and the girls loved every moment of it. She really inspired them.”
At the conclusion of the day’s action, perennial powerhouse Summit Rugby’s Black team took home its ninth-straight title, defeating the Westside Swarm 10-5 in the final. Summit White placed third by defeating Chaparral.
With a much smaller player pool of 12 rostered players, including many with just a year of experience, Glendale’s high school girls finished a respectable seventh in the finals out of the 8 teams that competed during the Championship Tournament. The season ended with only the top 8 teams advancing, out of the 16 that competed in the overall season series.
“The Glendale girls played amazingly,” Roberts said of the effort. “We had a young, but talented group and most all of them will be back next fall so plenty of growth still to be had!”