This summer was a busy time for North Shore with Green & Gold Sevens, prepping for fall 15's, and trying to find time for a little fun. While many players here in Chicago were swept up in local competition, one NS Sneetch took a chance to strike out on her own adventure. Back in March, Lauren Ebeling (aka rookie) attended a trial camp to try out for the American Rugby Pro Training Center. After a successful showing she was offered a contract by former US Sevens Head Coach Jules McCoy to spend the summer training in Little Rock, AR. The 3 month long program immerses athletes into a high performance full-time environment where they can develop their skills and learn from some of the best coaches in the country. Emerging talent from all over the country come to learn and take their skills to the next level. So when Rookie, was given the opportunity, she jumped on it. We got a chance to catch up with Lauren to discuss her experience.
1. What inspired you to go down to the ARPTC in the first place?
"I was first exposed to ARPTC about four years ago when my former 7s club traveled to Little Rock, AR to attend a clinic put on by the academy and scrimmage their current residents. Since then, I have had the privilege of scrimmaging against them each summer. It was during these clinics/scrimmages that I was fortunate enough to experience the coaching of Jules McCoy (Director of ARPTC). Last summer, I wasn't in a position to leave my job for the entire summer, however, Jules allowed me to come down for two weeks as a part-time resident. It was during this time that I knew I would be coming back the following (this) summer as a full-time resident, whatever that took. The draw to ARPTC, for me, was being able to immerse myself in a full-time training environment in which I could solely focus on growing my game."
2. What were some of your goals for the summer? Did you achieve them?
"Heading into my time at APRTC, my primary goal was to take steps towards reaching my potential as a rugby player. I wanted to be challenged to grow outside of my comfort zone. What I didn't know is that I was going to get so much more than that. I can whole heartedly say that I have accomplished my goal. With the incredible support of the coaching staff and my teammates, I have seen my body change in ways that I never knew it could. I am fitter and stronger than I have ever been, I am playing with confidence, and I have seen my level of play improve each and every day. One of my biggest struggles with rugby has always been the mental component to the game. I found myself constantly doubting my abilities to compete in higher level environments and unable to get out of my head if I made a mistake. This is an area of rugby I have never been coached in, but I was so fortunate to see major growth there this summer while working with the mental skills coach at ARPTC."
3. What has been your favorite part?
"My favorite part has been experiencing the culture that ARPTC fosters. It's never easy to step outside of your comfort zone, but ARPTC provides such a supportive environment in which you feel confident trying new things and making mistakes. Whether I was adding weight to my lifts at the gym or working on my aerial skills at a training session, I had 25 plus teammates encouraging me every step of the way. Moreover, as part of a full-time environment, we all lived together and spent the majority of our free time with each other. This allowed us to build connections both on and off the field as well as friendships that I will have for the rest of my life."
4. What is the most important lesson you have learned?
"The most important lesson that I have learned is that you have to show up. You have to show up for your teammates and your coaches, but most importantly for yourself. If you want to be a better player or teammate, show up and put in the work. I'm 27 years old and made a decision to quit my job to go play rugby full-time for an entire summer. It was a decision that wasn't supported by everyone nor was it one that I made lightly, but it was the best decision of my life. I made the choice to invest in myself as a rugby player and for that, I will be a better teammate and have made strides towards being the best version of myself."
5. What advice do you have for other NS players who may be interested in going?
"To any player considering ARPTC, go! You'll always be able to find an excuse as to why it's not the right time, but I can assure you it will be worth it. You will never find a more supportive group of individuals who are committed to your growth as a player and as a person. ARPTC is not just a rugby academy, it's a family that you'll have for a lifetime."
We also got a chance to chat with Head Coach Jules McCoy about Lauren:
"She is a lovely human that just wants to learn and contribute! The enthusiasm she brought to her team was infectious, and fit our culture here at ARPTC. She is a Team first person and has worked very hard to improve on her body of work. What coach doesn’t enjoy players with talent that are team first? Stated differently, be the type of player coaches want to Coach, like Lauren!"
Lauren is back in Chicago for this Fall WPL season and will participating in this weekend's game against New York! We know she's going to crush it with NS this fall. She hasn't quite decided where her next rugby adventure will be, but we can't wait to see all the places she will go.
If you would like to learn more about the ARPTC and their programs, check out their website here.