Alexis Morrison was a member of the WRCRA’s 2021 Horizons Initiative Class. Alexis was enthusiastically nominated by Jenn Heinrich and, throughout the gloomy COVID-19 spring of 2021, she lived up to every bit of Jenn’s glowing endorsement. Alexis is currently coaching with Girls Rugby Inc. She’s a terrific coach and ambassador for girls rugby. (What parent could say ‘no’ to Alexis?) USWRF-WRCRA is proud to support early career and community coaches through the Horizons Initiative. They are the foundation of the sport.
Where do you live?
Where did you go to college? Play rugby or any sport in college?
The University of Findlay in Ohio. My freshman year in college I started playing rugby and it was also the "inaugural" season for the team. I fell in love with rugby and the atmosphere, and I helped build the program at University of Findlay. The program is still going strong today!
Team(s) you coach and why it’s great to coach them:
I recently (this year) started my coaching career with Girls Rugby Inc., coaching girls in grades 2-8.
How did you get into coaching? What do you love about it? What’s most challenging for you as a young coach?
I took a large role in the recruiting process for my University team. loved showing people ‘the ropes of rugby’. In the final few years of my college rugby career, I was the team captain and my coach looked to me to help assist him with new recruits particularly those who’d never played rugby before. I fell in love with showing and teaching others about the amazing sport of rugby and how it can change people's lives. I watched as young adults who never played rugby (or sometimes, any sport) step on the field timid and at the end of the season leave as better, stronger versions of themselves. What I love most about coaching is I have found a way to give back to the sport. Between gaining friends, confidence and strength I feel kids should have an opportunity to experience rugby before college.
One of the biggest challenges I have faced so far is being younger than the majority of the parents. I definitely feel I have to work harder to gain their trust and confidence in me.
Folks who’ve had a big impact on your coaching career:
I would say my two rugby coaches in college and my parents. My parents coached me while growing up in various sports - they always showed me that being a coach means coming up with new and fun ways to challenge athletes and not be a ‘cookie cutter’ coach. My college coach, Ryan Scrimshaw had faith in us and never gave up on us. As a result we worked hard for him and wanted to enjoy the game as much as he did. Finally, Coach Jim Haughn. We used to have long conversations about teaching, field plays and how to find the best fit for individuals on the field. If it wasn't for these coaches assisting me while allowing me to take control of a team, I don't think I'd be as confident in starting a coaching career.
Areas of the game where you see advancement – areas that are of concern?
I see the game growing tremendously at the youth level. The biggest concern I see is teaching parents and the community that the transition from touch or flag rugby to tackle rugby isn't dangerous and scary. Trust coaches, we are really all about the safety of the players.
Your most sage coaching advice…
Always have fun, don't be afraid to try something new and it’s okay to be nervous. That combination can oftentimes lead you to unlock something special within yourself both on and off the pitch.