The USAFL Freedoms tilt at the 2020 International Cup in Melbourne Australia goes into full swing this week with a 4 day camp in Racine Wisconsin.
Earlier in the year at an Arizona camp with 75 players in attendance the USA Freedom selection panel lead by head coach Christina Licata, selected 54 players from 125 available to remain in IC2020 tour contention. In Racine this week from Thursday 14th through to Sunday 18th, over 40 of those players will be striving for selection in the 28 player squad to head to Australia in 2020. That squad may also include players currently playing outside the USA with ten squad players playing overseas in 2019, mainly in Australia, but also in Ireland.
This week USFootyNews heard from Coach Licata who related "While selection for the squad that will ultimately compete at the International Cup in 2020 won't occur until the Nationals Championships in Sarasota, performance at the 4-day camp will factor heavily into the coaching team's decisions."
Licata with all the assistant coaches this weekend will put all the players to the test, the 4-day camp will feature;
Skills and fitness assessments
Full sided games
Small sided games
Team goal setting and self assessments
At the 2017 IC the USA Freedom did not live up to their own expectations after several set backs through injuries and finished with a 2-3 record. Leading Great Britain in the last game at 3/4 time, the Freedom team saw that game slip away in the final minutes to finish a disappointing 2017 campaign in 4th place.
For 2020 however we see a far greater preparation through well attended and stronger Regional Championship games, Freedom camps and initial squad selections allowing a far greater pool of players prepare for selection. Also with several players having valuable match and training experience in Australia since 2017, all other teams better watch out in 2020.
That Freedom roster will be announced at the 2019 National Championships in Sarasota FL however we are sure there are 40 or so women footy players getting ready for a massive 4 days in Racine Wisconsin this week.
Recently the USAFL released their Australian Football Development Handbook. The handbook is primarily the work of Katie Klatt who developed the handbook as a project of the USAFL Development Committee's Safety Group. Katie was the Vice Captain of the USAFL Freedom at the International Cup in 2017.
"I thought this handbook could just be a good resource for those little specifics of footy we all take for granted, but are actually not as straight-forward as we see it!" Katie told USFootyNews this week.
The 25 page handbook covers many areas of player development with sections on learning skills, playing the game and safety, just to name a few. There are excellent reference links to videos, documents and other important resources contained in the handbook. Everything is covered that a new or recent player to the game of Aussie Rules Football would need to improve their footy and become a more knowledgeable and better skilled player.
You can download the Handbook here. USAFL Development Handbook
Katie Klatt herself is a much traveled footy player having just spent three years playing Aussie Rules in Melbourne Australia and now is back in San Francisco playing for the Golden Gate Iron Maidens.
Originally a player for the Sacramento Suns, Katie went down to Melbourne and played VFLW with the Melbourne Uni Mugars for three seasons. The Mugars are one of the strongest and most successful women's teams in Melbourne. There was some adjustment and hard work needed in Melbourne, Katie told USFootyNews.
"I had to work my way from their Div 3 team to the Reserves, then to VFLW each season as I got more experience."
"It was quite different playing in Australia. The knowledge of the game is significantly higher, and the skills much more silky and natural. The hits are harder and the speed is so much faster. It was definitely an adjustment." Katie went on to say.
We asked Katie what did she think was different now back in USA footy after 3 years away?
"I'm really excited by the growth I've seen in the US women's football scene since I've been gone, and the fact that so many women are starting to be interested in playing in Australia. And with so many new players coming out the Handbook was developed as I was hoping to encourage people to learn to tackle and play safely. We want this spread out to as many people as possible."
Finally, the travels may not over for Katie. Katie told USFootyNews she will be on the move again after this year's national championships in Sarasota Florida.
Where will Katie play in 2020? That might be a story to be covered at another time, for sure she will be a huge part of the USA Freedom's IC2020 campaign. For now thought Katie is officially a Golden Gate Iron Maiden! Congratulations Katie on your contribution to USA footy from USFootyNews and all your footy family.
The reigning USAFL National Champions the Austin Crows had little trouble in ensuring they will go into the 2019 Championships as hot favorites by winning the Central Regional Championships in Denver this past weekend. First up they accounted for the USAFL Div 2 Champions the Minnesota Freeze by a stunning 86 points in a massive first game shut out, the final scores Austin 13.8.86 to Minnesota 0.0.00. The Freeze wanted a yardstick for their move up into Div 1, well I think they got it. The Freeze who did not attend the 2018 Central Regionals were sent home without a win, after also failing to make that much of an impression against host team the Denver Bulldogs, go down 23 to 81.
So Crows then faced the host team the Denver Bulldogs in the afternoon heat for the main prize. Traveling in huge numbers the Austin outfit were quite ready for the task. Denver although with the luxury of being in their home field surroundings, were no match for the Crows. In the end it was a 36 point victory for Austin, 8.8.56 to Denver 3.2.20.
Austin now have a month off before facing Dallas and Oklahoma in Dallas. Things are looking pretty good though for the Texas leaders in 2019.
In recent times we have seen the reemergence of footy teams in Florida. Last year the Jacksonville Saints were fully established and this year they brought several players to the USAFL Eastern Regionals to play with eventual Division 2 winners, the Boston Demons. The new Saints team also played with the Atlanta Kookaburras and Rome Redbacks in an exhibition game in Savannah Georgia in late June as those teams assist with team development in Georgia.
Apart from that activity we wrote recently about maybe the darkness footy has been in recently in Florida. So we reached out to a few leaders of the new Tampa Bay Tiger Sharks club to get their side of things.
Tampa Bay Tiger Sharks have affiliated recently with the USAFL after the implosion of the Major League Footy organization. An organization we were informed that was being run basically by just one person. Several players in the Tampa area were becoming disillusioned with the MLF set up, as it was to them just scrimmage games with no real competition. Players would come down, pull on a different uniform each week however the results would be posted on the league website for whatever team colors they represented as legitimate games. “There were games versus Ft Lauderdale as well but they were not very well organized”, new club leader Robbie Scarallo said recently.
Born in Dubbo Australia, Robbie Scarallo and others like former Columbus Cats players Tom Mathews and Claire Conley recently formed a provisional committee to restart footy in the Tampa region. After the press release of the USAFL recently and the design of their new logo coming with that news, Scarallo said “I am confident a brand new “voted in” board of management would be in place by the end of July. Currently we have ‘around' 20 players we hope to get out onto the practice field from the past MLF group, however early numbers are much lower than that.”
Other plans have also been discussed about also splitting into to local metro teams quickly so the club can immediately play competitive games without having to travel far. Tampa although a very large city the Tiger Sharks are still a long way away from any other USAFL club. Ft Lauderdale is 4 hour drive away on a good day and Jacksonville is 3.5 hours as well, so establishing rival teams inside their own city is probably a must do.
With the USAFL National Championships just a 1 hour drive south to Sarasota this October the Tampa Bay leaders are confident they will have enough players and enthusiasm to again have a team playing in the biggest footy event outside of Australia.
Probably the next point of interest will be to see if Ft Lauderdale can also regroup and fully return to the footy fold and if any other clubs can be started in Florida, especially one maybe in the central Florida region like Orlando. That would benefit all the other clubs in the Florida state greatly at the same time.
The San Diego Lions look to have made some great player pick-ups with two solid wins in the first of the SoCal Cup. Wins agains the LA Dragons 5.10.40 to 3.3.21 and against the Orange County Giants 4.12.36 to 1.0.6 showed all and sundry the Lions could be back in the top bracket of teams come Ocotber in Sarasota at the USAFL Nationals Championships.
Next up for the Lions will be a greater test in the Western Regionals in Salem Oregon where they will take on the LA Dragons once more but also the Seattle Grizzlies and the Golden Gate Roos. After those three games we will probably have a better idea of how much the Lions have improved this year. At last years Natonals the Lions they went 1-2 in Division 2 in Racine.
The newly developing team down in Georgia the Savannah Hurricane got a leg up for their development by hosting four USAFL teams for their first game. The Savannah Invitational on June 29th was the first ever game of Aussie Rules Football in Savannah and was earmarked as the start of Georgia's 3rd team. The game mostly orchestrated by the Atlanta Kookaburras drew on players also from the Rome Redbacks, Jacksonville Saints and Tampa Bay Tiger Sharks.
The Hurricane has been born out of two past USAFL players, Justin Ward from the Atlanta Kookaburras and Elliot Szabo formerly of the Nashville Kangaroos. Both Ward and Szabo had moved to Savannah several years ago but were keen to start a team in Savannah when the Atlanta club indicated their goals to help grow the game in the South East region of USA.
The Savannah Hurricane now practice regularly right in the center of Savannah near the iconic fountain in the famous Forsyth Park.
Check out more about the Hurricane on their website. www.savfooty.com
The Denver Bulldogs traveled up to Des Moines for the annual 80/35 10's tournament in Des Moines, Iowa. The say road trips build character, well this one in 4 mini vans, and 10 hours later, we are sure there was at least a load of good times. The games for the Bulldogs did not go to plan however. Missing several key players the Dogs went down in the first game to host club the Des Moines Roosters, who put on a powerful display. Later the Denver regained some composure to test the Chicago Swans to about a 4 goal difference, however fell short of a win this time.
Along with the men's team several women also traveled and took on the experienced Minnesota women and the newer Chicago women's team. Neither was the result they were hoping for, but experiences like these makes the difference and builds confidence for suture encounters.
Lady Bulldogs 0.1.1
Minnesota Women 13.10.88
Lady Bulldogs 3.7.25
Chicago Women 10.7.67
Want read more, check out the full article on www.denverbulldogs.com
The Denver Reserves rolled into the Central Regionals tournament as the lowest-ranked men’s team. Last year at the USAFL National Championships they finishing runner-up in the Division 5 comp. However on the weekend they went 3-0 to sweep the Div title away from the Nashville Kangaroos. The Bulldogs Reserves team was a mixed group of club veterans and new rookies. With wins against Oklahoma and Dallas early in the day, both fairly good teams, the stage was set for the final against the Kangaroos who had also won their two earlier games.
The Denver team however showed their class in the late afternoon final, running out winners by just 5 points in a very close affair.
Denver Bulldogs 3.1.19
Nashville Kangaroos 2.2.14
Read up more on the Denver Bullldogs website here. www.denverbulldogs.com
The Atlanta Kookaburras kicked off their 2019 season with a solid home game win against long time rivals the North Carolina Tigers, taking the honors by 62 points. Playing a full scale game for the first time at NH Scott Park in Decatur, the Kookaburras hit the scoreboard early and never looked back.
With a mixture of past players returning and some new recruits the Kookaburras lead at every change and broke up the game in the third term with a 6 goals to 1 quarter. New players Seth Stokes & Tanguy Peres combined well with the returning George Huntzicker in the center and Chase Trujillo who was playing his first game back in two years.
Up forward Asst Coach Linley Laverdure helped himself to 4 goals from as many shots and was well supported by Tom Gultom and Chase Trujillo with 2 and 3 goals respectively. Holding steady in the backline were Club Captain Ryan Downey and his Vice Captain again Braden Medders who used their experience to thwart many NC Tigers attacks. The visiting team put up a valiant effort and kept the Kookaburras honest at every chance however fell short on the day.
The Kookaburras next game is their first trip up the road NW to Rome GA on May 11th to take on the Redbacks. A team they helped start last year and got beat twice for the effort, so some redemption we are sure is on the cards.
Atlanta 15 goals.10 behind. 100 points.
NC Tigers 5 goals 8 behinds 38 points
Goalkickers: Laverdure 4, Trujillo 3, Gultom 2, Huntzicker 2, Peres 2, Johnson & Ridenhour 1 each.
Best Players: Downey, Peres, Trujillo, Huntzicker, Medders, Stokes.
From channel surfing one day to a professional AFLW contract only a year or so later, such is the story of Danielle Marshall from the Arizona Hawks. A fabulous story of how quickly the women's game is spreading around the world and how these opportunities are available right now here in the USA. With so much talent here in the USA across all sports, this story wasn't surprising, maybe a little it would be a woman first though, however we believe it wont be the last.
Sure there are others players that have made a go of it in Australia as Americans, but none till Danielle Marshall have actually come through a USAFL club environment first.
Congratulations to Dani and the Arizona Hawks.