USA Rugby Release
CHULA VISTA, CA (June 17, 2021) – USA Rugby proudly announces its full 15-player women’s roster for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, pending approval from the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee. Led by head coach Chris Brown, the roster features 12 starters, one alternate and two traveling reserves.
Abby Gustaitis and Kristen Thomas will serve as co-captains as the USA Women fight for their first medal in only the second appearance for rugby sevens at the Games. The program finished fifth at Rio 2016.
Ten of the 12 starters are first-time Olympians with the exception of Lauren Doyle and Alev Kelter who both competed in Rio. Kelter leads the squad in several statistical categories including tries, tackles and overall appearances in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
The squad also features Ariana Ramsey who hasn’t debuted in the World Series but made a strong showing at the PanAm Games Lima 2019 where the U.S. won silver.
Nana Fa’avesi (2016 Olympian) and Kasey McCravey will support the team as traveling reserves after an incredibly competitive selection process.
Coach Brown said:
“In the past month we’ve had our most competitive intrasquad scrimmages since I started with the program back in 2018. All individual players contributed heavily and showed, if called upon, they could represent this wonderful country at the highest level well. This obviously made selection of the extended squad extremely tough but the unity we’ve shown for the past 18 months has been second to none.
“Although this announcement is exciting for many of our players, it’s devastating for a number of their closest teammates. I say this because it’s important to acknowledge that those going to Tokyo have a huge responsibility to represent the entire program, all our families and the United States of America.
“As a team, we have a great deal of strike power across the park. But looking at the increasing progress and competitiveness of the women’s game, we won’t be anywhere near winning a gold medal if we play as individuals as opposed to working as a group.
“That said, we have enough big match experience from the last three years to fully trust and believe that when we focus on the task at hand, play with discipline and fight as a collective, we are extremely hard to handle and we will be exactly where we need to reach the podium.
“Over the next few weeks, our emphasis in training will be to continue sharpening our defensive approach, focus on the opposition and connect our specific tools to challenge each of them.”
Brown and his team finished 2020 ranked fifth after the World Series was disrupted mid-season due to COVID-19. Prior to that, the program completed its most successful year in history, claiming five medals in six tournaments to end 2019 as No. 2 in the world. For more information on team history and records, visit tokyo.usa.rugby.
The named roster will compete in one final prep tournament at Quest for Gold Sevens in Los Angeles from June 25-26. Held at Dignity Health Sports Park, this will be the final opportunity for USA fans to see the team in-person ahead of Tokyo. Both days will be streamed LIVE (details TBA) while Saturday will welcome fans in the stadium. Tickets start at only $25 and are available at questforgold.usa.rugby.
Movements in Japan
Departing for Japan in mid-July, the Eagles Sevens will spend the first week training in Mimasaka before transferring to Tokyo for the opening ceremony on July 23. Rugby sevens competition runs July 26-28 for the men and July 29-31 for the women. The USA Men’s Sevens roster will be named publicly on July 2.
For player profiles, information about rugby, schedules, records and more, visit the official microsite for USA Rugby Sevens at tokyo.usa.rugby. Media inquiries can be directed to Aalina Tabani at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All team nominations are subject to USOPC approval.
USA Rugby Women’s Roster for Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
PLAYER NAME, HOMETOWN, POSITION, WORLD SERIES EVENTS
Kayla Canett-Oca, Fallbrook, CA, Halfback/Flyhalf, 10
Lauren Doyle, Boody, IL, Flyhalf/Wing, 30
Cheta Emba, Richmond, VA, Prop, 16
Abby Gustaitis (Co-Captain), Baltimore, MD, Prop/Hooker, 13
Nicole Heavirland, Whitefish, MT, Hooker/Scrumhalf, 23
Leyla Alev Kelter, Eagle River, AK, Center/Prop, 33
Kristi Kirshe, Frankfurt, MA, Center/Wing, 8
Ilona Maher, Burlington, VT, Center/Prop, 12
Jordan Matyas, Calgary, Alberta, CAN, Prop, 14
Ariana Ramsey, Bridgeport, PA, Wing, 0
Naya Tapper, Charlotte, NC, Wing, 21
Kristen Thomas (Co-Captain), Philadelphia, PA, Hooker/Center, 26
Nia Toliver, (Alternate), Los Angeles, CA, Prop/Wing, 0
Kasey McCravey, (Traveling Reserve), Scottsdale, AZ, Hooker/Flyhalf, 4
Nana Fa’avesi, (Traveling Reserve), Sacramento, CA, Prop/Wing, 18
U.S. Women’s Staff for Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
Head of Women’s High Performance | Emilie Bydwell
Head Coach | Chris Brown
Head of Physical Performance | Matt Long
Athletic Trainer | Nicole Titmas
Team Leader | Liz Strohecker
Team Physician | Alex Myers
Performance Analyst | Emily Record
S&C Coach | Trey Ford
Dietitian | Jacque Scaramella
Jo Sports Psychologist | Peter Haberl