High School All-Americ​an Stars v. Stripes Game coaches selected


USA Rugby’s Coach Development Program has selected 12 coaches for the inaugural High School All-American Stars and Stripes Program. The coaches were selected by a panel from over 40 applicants who applied through the USA Rugby website. Each applicant has experience working with high school athletes and wants to continue their development through the Elite Coach Pathway.

The HSAA Stars and Stripes Program represents an entry point into the Elite Coach Pathway, which provides a fantastic professional development opportunity through the integration of national team rugby techniques and resources. The coaches will participate in a professional coaching environment where they will receive feedback on their content, delivery and player management abilities from USA Rugby Coach Development Manager Josh Sutcliffe, High Performance Player Development Manager Luke Gross, Women’s Eagles Head Coach Pete Steinberg and Boys High School All-Americans Head Coach Salty Thompson.

During the first two days of the Program coaches will spend time working in their larger group as they get to know their athletes and begin to implement concepts and applications directly from the High Performance framework. There will also be two sit-down meetings with each coach to discuss their progression and receive coaching workbooks and other resources to help facilitate self-evaluation and message tailoring to respective audiences. The coaches will then prepare their teams on days three and four for the games July 13.

Learn more about the coach selection process from Coach Development Manager Josh Sutcliffe


Two of the coaches who have been selected for the program opportunity are Anna Kunkel and Brendan Keane.

Kunkel is a new face on the scene. A former University of California - Berkeley and Austin Valkyries player, Kunkel is excited to “teach the fundamentals” and help young athletes have “the light bulb moment.” She started coaching after aging out of the West U23 program and was selected as the assistant coach for the team. In her role as a head coach of the University of Texas at Austin, it was important to develop the rugby skills and life skills. These life skills included developing a plan to achieve the team goal of making Nationals. The team started with this larger goal and worked back to the behaviors required to be successful. Kunkel looks forward to this role to continue developing her ability to coach and help more players develop into the next generation of Women’s Eagles.

On the boys’ side, Keane brings a fresh perspective to the Elite Coaching Pathway. A former Appalachian State and Charlotte Rugby Club player, Keane is a teacher and the head coach at Charlotte Catholic High School. He started coaching because the students at the high school wanted to play rugby. After beginning coaching, he found it was a great way to constantly give back to the game. While Charlotte Catholic has won the last five North Carolina Championships, Keane believes that without his mentor, Dave Hamilton, his coaching career would not have been as successful. His success has been through his focus on developing players who can make decisions on the field including this year’s D1A National Championship Most Valuable Player Joe Cowley.

Girls Stars Head Coach – Mollie McCarthy (Alabama) Assistant Coach – Anna Kunkel (Texas) Assistant Coach – Jimmy Hanson (Minnesota)

Girls Stripes Head Coach– Katie Wurst (North Carolina) Assistant Coach – Anthony Sasso (New York) Assistant Coach – Tom Fuery (New Jersey)

Boys Stars Head Coach – Mike Hodgins (New York) Assistant Coach – Chris Miller (Northern California) Assistant Coach – Nolan Day (Illinois)

Boys Stripes Head Coach– Rob Salaber (California) Assistant Coach – Brendan Keane (North Carolina) Assistant Coach – Tim Kluempers (Kansas)

Applications are now being accepted for the 2014 Stars and Stripes Coaching positions, please apply here.

Read more about the selection process for the Stars vs. Stripes Program.


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