After School Rugby with Coach Jenna
03/04/2010

Glendale Rugby’s Spring After School Program for kids aged five through thirteen or Kindergarten through 8th Grade kicked off on March 2nd at Mir Park.

Online PR News – 04-March-2010 – – For Immediate Release
Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Glendale, CO ~ Glendale Rugby’s Spring After School Program for kids aged five through thirteen or Kindergarten through 8th Grade kicked off on March 2nd at Mir Park. Youth Rugby Coordinator Jenna Anderson is inviting Denver Metro area boys and girls to join the fun on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

‘Coach Jenna’, who has run the Youth Program for Glendale Rugby since Spring 2008, also plays Center and Wing on the Glendale Raptors Women’s team. Anderson’s pretty smile and bubbly personality may contradict how some might picture an aggressive competitor in the rough and tumble game of rugby. That contradiction says a lot about the misperceptions novices hold regarding the second most popular sport in the world.

At a very early age children tend to be sized up for athletic potential. Jenna is adamant about describing Glendale’s Youth Rugby Program and the game of rugby as being inclusive. “Anyone can play rugby. All shapes and sizes whether you’re big or small you’re never going to be turned down in rugby.” She continues, “And once you’re in the game, anyone can score in rugby. That’s the best part!”

Players in the After School Program are placed into different age groups and ability levels. The younger kids play co-ed touch rugby. When they are considered to be mentally and physically ready, boys at 10 and girls at 12 years old can play tackle.

According to Anderson, the variations of the rugby game offer choices to coaches and players alike. “There are lots of options for boys and girls, and it’s not just about tackle. Touch rugby is a lot of fun too. A lot of people around the world play touch rugby and love it.”

As to the rough and tumble reputation of the game, Jenna says that the continued focus in rugby is safety. The safety of rugby players is built into the game and centered on fitness and technique. Anderson addresses some fundamental differences between rugby and American gridiron football, “Tackling in rugby is very different from tackling in football where they have a hard helmet and hard pads.” She continues, “You don’t just plow into somebody. You actually have to learn how to tackle very technically; learn how to wrap the body.”

Apparently the parents in Glendale’s Youth Program are convinced. Many of them volunteer as referees or to assist in coaching. Jenna says you can never have too many helpers when you’re working with young boys and girls, and she’s excited about the positive reaction to the sport from the entire family. “Kids start playing and their parents, who knew nothing about rugby before, are coming to Infinity Park for all the Raptors games and joining the crowds at the Churchill Cup. They’re getting the rugby fever and really enjoying it.”

When compared to the players in this After School Program, Jenna’s career in rugby started late in life. She was recruited for the Illinois State University team when she was a student there at 18 years old. After her first year she was invited to play on USA Rugby’s U19 (under 19 years old) Team.

As an 18 year old recruit, it was a surprise to Jenna to learn that other girls had had an opportunity to play at a much younger age. “I didn’t know that kids played rugby until I started playing with the USA U19s and played with girls who were 15 years old. If I had known there was rugby for high school girls or even younger, I’d have played in a heartbeat!”

Anderson played for the Mid-West U23’s and was invited to join the USA U23s where she played for two years. It didn’t take long for her to expand her rugby experience to coaching and game development. She moved to Boulder, Colorado in August 2007 and was the National Championships intern with USA Rugby. She coached her college team and she assisted the Youth Coordinator for USA Rugby in generating young interest in the game at the USA Sevens Tournament in San Diego.

It was when she was a National Championships intern with USA Rugby that Jenna Anderson met Director of Glendale Rugby Mark Bullock; and the rest, as they say, is history.

Now, as Coordinator of Glendale Rugby’s Youth Program, Jenna is invested in developing the game in the State of Colorado. She is on the Executive Board of Colorado Youth Rugby and is proud of Glendale’s partnership with that organization. “We are all working together to build rugby in Colorado communities; and Glendale, being the only club that offers rugby almost year round for all ages, plays a very big part.”

Jenna’s enthusiasm for the game and the energy she puts into it - on and off the field - is powerful, but she couldn’t run the Youth Program without the tremendous help she gets from volunteer coaches and players who step up from the ranks of the Glendale Rugby organization. “I get Raptors coaches and players who volunteer their time and come help out. That’s what rugby’s all about. You give back to the game you love.”

A good example of someone who gives back to rugby in order to stay in the game: former Glendale Raptors player, Jared Heath. Jared was with the Raptors as they kicked off their first season in the summer of 2006. He stopped playing due to complications from some old football injuries in 2008. After his last season of play, he returned to Glendale to coach for the Youth TRY League, the game structured Colorado summer program that kids in the Spring After School scrimmages are preparing to play. Eventually, he was asked by Coach Bullock to coach the Boys High School Team in 2009. Giving back to the game has been a rewarding experience for Jared. “The kids I coach give back to me at least as much as I give to them. It’s kind of a shared relationship in which we all have a lot of fun.”

For Jenna Anderson, fun is the operative word when it comes to Glendale Rugby’s After School Program. “You can join any time. Because we don’t have a game structure, we just play scrimmages and learn the skills and technique. If you miss a day, you’re not missing more than a fun day of rugby.”

Apparently, a fun day of rugby with Jenna is something a lot of kids don’t want to miss. Many of the youth rugby players come back for every After School Program and every TRY Season and work hard to play better. When Jenna speaks of the players in Glendale’s Youth Rugby Programs, she beams with pride. “Some of them are just awesome little rugby players. Whether they end up playing in a high school national championship or even the Olympics, I like to think that someday they’ll remember that they started playing with Coach Jenna.”

For more information on Glendale’s Youth Rugby Program visit glendalerugby.com or contact Jenna Anderson 303-639-4713.