Lisa May’s unlikely love affair with rugby has culminated in a golden opportunity to hone her skills on the Premiership Rugby Scholarship Programme.
The 54-year-old from Battle Ground, Oregon, never touched a rugby ball until her eldest son’s coach needed some extra help on the sidelines – and she hasn’t looked back since.
May, who teaches at Battle Ground High School, is now getting the chance to learn from the best in a sport she only took up as an adult.
“I used to go to practices and watch, but I didn’t know anything about the sport,” said May.
“The coach had troubles controlling the kids, and because I am a teacher and a coach in other sports I offered to step in and help. Next thing I knew, I became the head coach!
“I’m not a natural rugby player by any means. In my first year of coaching, we lost every game.
“So I watched, listened and read everything I could about rugby. I relentlessly recruited numbers for our team going into the next season. Then we ended up winning first and second in state.
“I think the key to it all is I’m a fundamentalist and I tried to teach the key details of the game.
“There are definite gaps in my knowledge and I can’t wait to fill them in.”
Lisa is part of a cohort of coaches travelling from the US to the UK for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn about coaching techniques, video analysis and team cultures from those who do it day in day out at Premiership Rugby clubs.
The initiative is run by Premiership Rugby in partnership with the Friends of the British Council and USA Rugby and aims to grow the sport in the US.
Coaches will also learn about and engage with Premiership Rugby’s award-winning community programs that use rugby as a tool for social change, covering all methodologies used in these life changing initiatives.
Coaches will gain insight into various ways Premiership Rugby clubs are engaging their players, fans and communities to instil the core values of rugby.
The 54-year-old cannot wait for the opportunity to work with coaches from Harlequins, London Irish and Saracens and bring her fresh knowledge back to her students in Oregon.
“When I got the email about the scholarship programme, I thought what an amazing opportunity and it would be silly not to try for it,” she said.
“I’m beyond excited to start. I’ve had pins and needles since I found out I got on.
“You can’t replicate the experience of being immersed into the best of rugby in the UK.
“I can’t wait to get fully immersed, soak it all up and bring back the knowledge to continue growing the game in the US.
“Being part of the coaching programme is a dream come true really.”
Click here if you are an American coach and would like to win a Premiership Rugby Scholarship. Our next trip will come to the UK in November.