Jamie Stephen may keep law and order as her day job, but tenacity on and off the rugby field will be her first focus on the Premiership Rugby Scholarship programme.
When the 43-year-old isn’t doing her duty in the Chicago Police Department, she’s head coach of the Taft High School girls’ rugby team.
Her four-year tenure has coincided with the sport’s exponential growth in the city – and now Stephens will spend a week learning from the best after obtaining a Premiership Rugby Scholarship.
“Rugby has become so much more popular here, especially in Chicago,” she said.”
When I arrived, we only had 12 girls on the team and only a few of them had even heard of rugby.
“There were only 7 teams in the girls’ league in Illinois. Now we have 35 players on the roster and around 12 or 13 teams in the league.”
Jamie is part of a cohort of players and coaches to travel 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.
During the week in England, coaches will take part in a Level 300 coaching training course, which will be co-delivered by Premiership Rugby and USA Rugby.
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.
After hearing about the success of last year’s scheme and what the recipients took from it, Stephens thought it a no-brainer to get involved with this year’s programme.
And like her predecessors, the Eagles head coach feels it can seriously benefit her girls’ rugby squad, saying: “I just want to learn as much as I can from the professionals there.
“I want to bring it back and apply it to my own squad – it’ll be a great experience.
“In particular, I want to focus on certain things such as offensive strategy with the back line, that I can try to implement back home.
“Overall, though, I just want to enjoy the experience and use it to the maximum benefit of me and my players.”
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.