This is the second blog instalment from Georgie Perris-Redding’s (the Community Trust’s Programme Manager and Sharks Women’s player) on life in the US as part of the American Rugby Pro Training Centre (ARPTC) Rugby 7s programme.
My second letter from America
I am currently on week ten of being over in the States, I must say the time has flown by and I can’t quite believe I only have just under three weeks left here. There has been challenges over the last couple of weeks as I really miss my family and friends (especially my doggies!) along with the odd niggles my body has been picking up. But I guess this is all part of the experience and nature of high-performance training. I now understand some of what the Sharks players go through as part of their elite performance programme. I am lucky though, as I have a great support network of friends over here which definitely makes it easier.
This last week, we have experienced an Arkansas heatwave with highs of 40 degrees. We have been training earlier to avoid the heat but it is till 35 degrees by 10am! I am still waiting for the moment where I adapt to this weather!! We have also had a couple of storms where the rain has really poured down. This certainly made me feel more at home!
On the 8th of July, the group of 12 selected to play for ARPTC in the Michigan Tournament in Brighton departed Arkansas at 7am. We then embarked on a 15-hour bus trip and arrived in Michigan on Friday afternoon. Being me, I got half an hour into the journey and already needed a toilet stop! As you can imagine I was made to wait. It wasn’t the smoothest ride at the back either…I was sandwiched between Judy and Lauren; we fell out and made up about 20 times during the bus trip! It has definitely cemented our friendship.
This was a one day tournament, during which we played a total of five games. We won every game and only conceded a total of 15 points throughout the day. We won the tournament by beating Chicago Lions in the final 27-5.
Michigan was a special experience for me as not only is it my place of birth but I was also reunited with some very special people who I have not seen in many years. It was great to see some familiar faces and have that extra support on the field. Memories made for life.
Georgie, pictured with family friends from Detroit
Training has ramped up over the last couple of weeks in intensity. As Nationals are getting closer, we are getting a lot more conditioning in along with games and skill execution under pressure and fatigue. We have had a few new faces join camp over the last couple of weeks too which has also been good, to meet new people and learn about their rugby experience and how they got to where they are now.
The Nationals team has been announced and I am fortunate enough to have made the squad of 12 travelling to Seattle. It is now full steam ahead for the next week or so, getting the reps in, getting used to playing together and putting ourselves in the best position to compete for that number one spot in Seattle.
Alongside the rugby, I have been really lucky to experience the natural beauty Arkansas has to offer. Two weekends ago the whole team was shipped out to Heber Springs where Jules, the Director of ARPTC had rented two boats. We spent the day cliff jumping and tubing. (Note to self: do not wear your Apple watch when cliff jumping).
A few of us also went out boating again this weekend. We went to a different lake called Crystal Springs. It is hands down one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The water was so warm and clear, so we spent the majority of the day swimming, exploring and tubing. It was some much needed down time after a hard week of training.
We were also lucky enough to be there on the night where the moon was full. We went back out on the boat at around 10pm when it was pitch black and the views were unbelievable.
Georgie, moments before her Apple watch sank to the bottom of the lake…
I am excited about getting home now, it feels like it will come round really quickly. I can’t wait to be reunited with my loved ones but I am also looking forward to embracing and making the most of the next couple of weeks in the US. Saying goodbye to the team and good friends is going to be really difficult knowing I may not see some of them for some time but I have made some new friends for life and I am very grateful to have shared the highs and lows of this experience with these special people.
I have a day or two back home before going back to the world of Sharks. I am looking forward to getting back to the office and throwing myself into the end of pre-season with Sharks Women to get ready for the start of the Allianz Premier 15s season in September.
No rest for the wicked they say! Catch Y’all on the flip side… GPR