The Elite Women's 7s Camp is rounding out its second full day at the Chula Vista (Calif.) Olympic Training Center, and for the 25 players in attendance, that means the worst is over.
Yesterday was spent fitness testing, which included timed 40s, racing 40s, and a miserable drill that players have coined "the death walk," a favorite of USA Women's 7s coach Ric Suggitt. It's a 20-minute sprint/hit-the-ground type of drill. So RugbyMag.com was especially appreciative when Katie Dowty sacrificed some of her recovery time to update on the status of camp.
There are several fresh faces in Chula Vista; in fact, 11 are from the college ranks.
"They're keeping up," Dowty said of the diverse squad. "We have four girls from the [2009 Sevens] World Cup and others who have played 7s a total of three times. We're working hard and doing anything we can to fix things we think are wrong. There's alot of peer coaching."
Suggitt is a fan of the mentoring system and encourages dialogue among players between reps. And all indications suggest that the players are satisfied with Suggitt's coaching style.
"No matter how long you've been playing, you know you're getting it straight from Ric," Dowty said. "He'll tell you that you could've done something better, but he'll also tell you when you've done something well."
Of the college players, Ryan Carlyle, Lisa Henneman, Katie Lorenz, Tyra McGrady and Deven Owsiany already have international playing experience, having played in either Las Vegas or Hong Kong (or both in Owsiany's case). Of the other collegiate invitees, only Rebekah Siebach of Women's Cougar Rugby wasn't on display at the women's Collegiate Rugby Championship in early June, when Suggitt saw players' 15s skills translate into 7s.
As for the World Cup Sevens veterans, only Lauren Hoeck has remained consistently active on the 7s scene. Amy Daniels immediately switched gears to prepare for the 15s World Cup last September; Pam Kosanke took some time off; and Christina Mastrangelo is back after a knee injury.
"I'm really glad Pam Kosanke is here," Dowty said. "She's such a great playmaker and pushes you hard on the field."
The squad will have some fun tomorrow and Thursday, when the group will split up for some tournament-style 7s matches. But in between, the players will be doubling up on the practice pitch.
"Across the board, Ric says our fundamentals - passing and catching - need to improve drastically," Dowty said. "He's also focusing on our workrate off the ball, getting in better positions to make things happen. There's no rest for the weary."
Although Dowty's exasperated voice conveyed physical fatigue, she insists that spirit at camp is very upbeat.
"Everyone feels lucky to be here at the training center, to have the field a few steps away from the dorm," Dowty said. "We can't complain. This is what we would do for a living if we could."