Last year’s Division II state title game appearance was the first in program history for Amherst Steele girls rugby, but coach Jim Yanosko and his troupe of Comets aren’t satisfied with that impressive accomplishment.
The team held a car wash Saturday at Ali’s Sunoco Gas on Rt. 58. As teammates worked to leave cars shining as brightly as expectations for this season, captain Jenna McCloskey spoke about the hard work it’s taken to get to this point.
“We’re looking to expand and improve our team,” said McCloskey. “That kind of thing can start with a car wash but it also means getting out and doing all kinds of things in the community.
“We love being a part of Amherst and love representing our city. Coming out here and washing cars for free, and only accepting donations, is a great way to do that.”
“I think our success last year made us hungry,” she said. “Being so close and being underestimated the whole season kept us very motivated. We were always the underdog team. We don’t want to be runner-up anymore. We want to be that team, the one that’s the favorite.”
The Amherst girls finished 8-5 last season, losing just one regular season game.
Before falling to Medina in the state championship, the Comets defeated Perrysburg in the semifinal round.
That win provided retribution for a regular season defeat and remains a linchpin for establishing new levels of team confidence, the captain said.
“As a coach, you never know what you’re going to get year after year,” said Yanosko, now entering his 11th year as coach. “It’s all about the girls and it’s their team. I ask them, ‘Do you want to be a social team or do you want to be a competitive team?’ It’s up to them. I told them I’m here to be their coach either way. But they’ve decided to do whatever it takes to be the best. Their goal for the year is to get back to the state championship and win it.”
Steele rugby is active in both the spring and fall, which provides double the opportunity to find new players and continue to move the bar for success higher and higher, said McCloskey.
“If you can’t do the fall, you can always come play in the spring and vice versa,” she said. “You need no experience at all. That’s the best part. We’re always accepting new players and you don’t need to know anything about rugby. We need girls on the team to take that next step so give it a try and see what you think.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.