Glendale Coaches Corner

Glendale Merlins Rugby

Glendale Merlins Women Bring It All in Intrasquad Scrimmage

by | Aug 23, 2018 | Coaches Corner

As told by Merlins WPL Head Coach and Director of Amateur Rugby Luke Gross

Coaches Blog, Glendale Rugby Date 8.18.18 the location – Glendale’s Infinity Park Turf Field

As I mentioned last month, this fall marks my first season as head coach of the Glendale’s Women’s Premier League Team. I have been working hard over this past year to develop a relationship with many of the women’s players here in Glendale, several of whom I have already had the pleasure of knowing and, in some instances, coaching for years as I served in various roles at USA Rugby and, more specifically, the Women’s National Team. And, of course, there’s no doubt that this side is chock-full of talented athletes, but for me and my equally-experienced staff, I didn’t want us to just rest on our laurels. We really wanted to give all of our female ruggers a once over and see what the entire player pool had to offer this season. So, we planned an early intrasquad scrimmage to allow us to view the players in a game-like setting in which we could access their rugby IQ, as well as their strength and conditioning.

Glendale Merlins WPL

Photo by Sara Wright

And, I have to say, players from both sides really stepped it up. I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, after less than a month of practice, but the women’s players did not disappoint. The teams have adopted a new system of play and they are performing it well. The effort was tremendous during all 80 minutes and it was so nice to see such professionalism on all levels. We didn’t even keep score, just took a ton of notes of which players stood out, which players worked well together and, in some instances, what others needed to work on. We played four, 20 minute periods, substituting players and groups of players in and out, at will, but even the officiating was top-notch, and we were so grateful for the referees’ time this morning, as well.

With all of that said, however, this did not make my job any easier, and now my staff and I have the very tough job of narrowing down a pool of more than 50 players to just 23 who will travel to San Diego to face the Surfers for our first league match of the season. It’s definitely one of those problems a coach likes to have, though, and regardless of who actually makes this game-day roster, it is awesome to have the depth and talent we have to choose from. This is only going to make us better and better as we push each other throughout the season.

Glendale Merlins WPL

Photo by Sara Wright

Coaches Blog, Glendale Rugby Date 8.21.18 the location – Glendale’s High Altitude Training Center

I once heard that ‘selections are a place where teams can be made’ and, in my experience, it is very true. Both in the way individuals react to being selected and to not being selected. Between now and Thursday, we will see players dealing with a range of emotions from elation to disappointment. How they deal with these emotions is up to them. We encourage our players to celebrate if they want to celebrate, if they are disappointed, be disappointed and use it as fuel. But no matter what, come Thursday, we expect everyone to come to training ready to support the players who were selected and make sure they are the best they can be for Saturday.

So without further adieu, here are the 23 selected to travel to our first WPL match – the Glendale Merlins vs. the San Diego Surfers on Saturday, August 25! I know this is just the beginning of the season, but I know we can expect great things from our women this year. Don’t forget to follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

Glendale Merlins Roster vs. San Diego Surfers – 

1. Sarah Chobot
2. Jeanna Beard
3. Helga Polheber
4. Charley Thompson
5. Joanna McElroy
6. Kris Peterson
7. Rachel Ehrecke
8. Joanna Kitlinski
9. Kelsie O’Brien
10. Hannah Stolba
11. Alli Hale
12. Julie Tordonato
13. Denali Graham
14. Danielle Ordway
15. Madison Slaught


16. Lexie Lundquist
17. Sus Kitchen
18. Sam Luther
19. Andrea Prusinski
20. Leann Lam
21. Hannah Tennant
22. Kemi Adewunmi
23. JT Wypych