BLOOMINGDALE - The 39th annual Can-Am Rugby Tournament wrapped up on the championship field in Bloomingdale Sunday with an exhibition match between the United States women's under-20 team and a select side called the Nessies, which was comprised of many of the young women who were standouts for their respective clubs during the tournament.
That game also marked the end of a week-long training camp that the U.S. under-20 players participated in while staying at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid.
One of the players invited to the camp was Saranac Lake High School graduate Baylee Annis, who first started playing the sport as a member of the Adirondack U-19 girls team. It was the second camp of the summer for Annis, who was recently named the top collegiate women's prop in the nation by Rugby Magazine. Annis also took part in an even bigger camp earlier this summer, joining 75 of the nation's top female ruggers as senior team candidates gathered in Colorado.
Saranac Lake’s Shelia Decker is followed by Lake Placid’s Catalina Daby as they are congratulated for their efforts playing in Sunday’s final game at the 39th Can-Am Rugby Tournament.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
The Lake Placid camp was designed to help players with their development in the sport as well as identify potential athletes who will be picked to represent the U.S. next year in the Nation's Cup tournament for U-20 players. Since Annis will be 21 when the 2013 tournament takes place in either England or South Africa, she will be too old to participate. So instead of playing with the American side Sunday, Annis helped bolster the Nessies roster, as did two more athletes who were at the camp.
The camp was led by head coach Danielle Miller, who hails from Seattle. She said even though Annis won't be able to compete with the U-20s next year, they wanted the current Norwich University rugger joining the other top U.S. prospects at the training sessions in Lake Placid.
"The goal of the camp was to give the girls development in preparation for the Nation's Cup Tournament next year," Miller said. "Unfortunately, Baylee won't be there, but we felt it was important for her to participate with the girls this past week.
"Baylee has a lot of potential, and she's a great teammate," Miller added. "She knows how to be a force with her body. She's strong and quick."
Unfortunately for Annis, the Nessies were unable to stick close to the U-20 national squad, which won Sunday's Can-Am finale in a lopsided shutout.
Two other area ruggers who picked up the sport with the Adirondack girls team were also invited to join the Nessies. They were Saranac Lake's Sheila Decker, who will be a sophomore this fall, and Catalina Daby of Lake Placid.
"It was quite an honor playing in a game like this," Decker said after Sunday's exhibition. "I found out I was going to play about half an hour before the game. I brought my cleats with me hoping to get in a game.
"I never played at such a high level before," Decker added. "It was a lot of fun, but it was tough. Our team was kind of put together over the last day or two, and the U-20 girls, they've been together all week. I'm used to playing on winning teams, and I wish we did better, but it was still a great experience. I'm definitely hooked on rugby."