Where do you live?
Providence, Rhode Island
Instructional Designer & Educational Technology Coach
Tell us a little about your playing days? What positions did you play?
I began playing as an undergrad at Brown University in a variety of backline positions, mostly fullback. I played flyhalf for eight years or so for the Providence Women’s Rugby Team.
How did you get into coaching?
I started thinking about coaching as a way to help develop newer players that were joining the Providence team while I was recovering from injury. Later, as I moved away from playing, I saw it as a way to stay involved with my team and club.
Teams you coach/have coached and why it's great to coach them:
In 2013, I was fortunate to become an assistant coach under Kathy Flores at Brown. Then, in 2015, I assisted with the Providence Women’s Rugby Team, again under Coach Flores. In both of these cases, I’d played with the teams previously during my playing years, so I felt like I was able to support my local rugby communities in this way. The joy of coaching for me came from working with the players to develop their knowledge about the sport and then seeing them embrace and fall in love with it.
Providence Women's Rugby Winning D2 Regionals and Nationals 2022
How was this year for you - the loss of Kathy, and stepping into the Head Coaching position?
Losing Kathy was difficult for all that knew her - she was a special person in so many ways, it’s still hard. I think of her often - I know she’d be really proud of both teams (Brown and Providence) and what they’ve done in the last year. I think the leadership and focus in the last season was the team’s way of paying our respect. They did something special to honor her memory, and it is a testament to her legacy that the players were able to take her motto “next job” to heart as they found their way forward from the grief of her passing in the fall to working their way towards a National Championship this spring.
Kathy had worked with Providence Women since 2015, so she was the one who helped players develop their technical skills and critical thinking - over the years that translated into a ‘rugby IQ’ and better on-field decision-making. I was fortunate to have been able to support the team during those years, as needed, so I was familiar with the team and where they were as a unit. For me, the real need came from makin1g sure that the players were OK as individuals and then able to move forward cohesively as a team. It was such a tremendous loss, and the RI rugby community really rallied together to support the team because there is no way you can replace Kathy. Emily Hausman and Dana Ayoub, two former Providence players, offered support as an assistant coach and backs specialist, respectively, as well. So, I think that while I was there after Kathy to support the team in this role, it was also our entire community that came together to support each other.
Myrta and Kathy in 2015
What do you love about coaching?
When I was learning the game in the early 2000’s, we would go to practice and then go to games on the weekends, but we were limited in avenues of new information about the sport. The internet was in its infancy, and we didn’t have access to all of the content and materials that are accessible now as the sport evolves in real-time. So, I love that as a coach you can now guide players at an individual level to identify their skills and abilities so they can then self-direct their own exploration and passion for the sport. It’s the most exciting thing when you see a person growing in how they view the game and then how they make decisions or make creative choices in their play. It’s quite beautiful to see it come together for the players - individually and then as a team.
What is most challenging?
There are many different challenges as it relates to coaching, but I think for me - there just isn’t enough time. There are so many people that love this sport and all that it encapsulates, but I think we all just wish there was more time to invest and to spend growing the sport by increasing resources, funding, and capacity at the grassroots level.
Individuals who’ve had a big impact on your coaching career:
Rhode Island has been really lucky to have Kerri Heffernan as a rugby ambassador. I think of her as Rugby Appleseed. She has just been going all around the state/country/world planting little RI rugby seeds and now there is a really great root network of rugby in Rhode Island. I attribute a lot of the community, culture and infrastructure in Rhode Island to her efforts - for both the men and women’s game. I was fortunate to have played for Kerri in college and then I’ve also been lucky to have her as a friend and mentor in the last two decades, and she continues to support my development in rugby. I also consider my friend Dan Mejia as another rugby guid