Rugby adds new coaches

Sydney Mohr, Sports Editor

After a season full of success and a DII National Championship title, the Black Katts have snagged themselves two new coaches to take the places of Josh Krzewinski and Roger Riley, the head and assistant coaches for the rugby team.

Emilee Jalosuo and Kim La Mons will be taking over as head and assistant coaches starting immediately as the Black Katts spring season begins.

Spring season tends to be a bit more laid-back competition wise, so this gives an opportunity for Jalosuo and La Mons to get to know the athletes and the dynamics of the team before they dive after the National Championship title again in fall 2020.

Jalosuo, a Winona State alumnae and former Winona State rugby athlete, was excited when she heard that the Black Katts were looking for a new head coach.

“I heard about the coaching position from some former Winona State players I knew, since I played for Winona from 2009-2013,” Jalosuo said.

Not only was Jalosuo a member of the women’s rugby team in Winona, she has continued to play rugby since graduating college and currently plays in the Twin Cities for the Metropolis Valkyries.

When it comes to coaching, Jalosuo is all about a team-first approach. She believes that the team is a family and should treat each other as such.

“We operate using a respectful and competitive culture that allows our team and players to reach their full potential, and that [builds them into] strong individuals on and off the field,” Jalosuo said.

Her goals for the team are concrete, and she wants to push towards finding more DI level teams to keep challenging the athletes

“Our plan moving forward is to maintain the program’s traditions as a well-organized club, and eventually build off of its already strong foundation by creating more high level playing opportunities for the Black Katts, and see the girls reach their full potential,” Jalosuo said. “We’re placing our long-term goals high and striving for excellence as rugby continues to grow in the U.S.”

Besides playing rugby, some of Jalosuo’s hobbies include bodybuilding competitions, cooking, traveling and caring for her pet pig.

La Mons, who is taking the position of assistant coach for the Black Katts, heard about the opportunity through an email she received from Jalosuo. La Mons has been involved with rugby since her senior year of high school. She played through college for University of Northern Iowa and has played across different states and countries in the years following.

“I tried out my senior year of high school and was hooked after the first practice,” La Mons said. “I had grown up playing sports but had never experienced the mental and physical challenges that rugby presented in a culture where you can wage war on your opponent and still be friends afterwards due to the vast amount of respect for each other within the community of women’s rugby.”

As for her coaching style, she wants to present the sport as a lesson in practice while also building confidence in each player.

“We want to fuel their competitiveness while remaining respectful of their opponent and family [team]. We strive to give the players tools to be successful women both on and off the field, as well as the platform to pursue a higher level of play during their rugby career,” La Mons said.

La Mons said her long-term goal for the Black Katts is to continue building on the strong existing foundation of the program and the positive culture that former staff, current staff and players have established.

“We work towards growing women’s rugby and athletics while placing student success first in a family team environment,” La Mons said.

Outside of playing and coaching rugby, La Mons is a US Marine Corps Veteran who is finishing her degree in Environmental Science. La Mons other hobbies include snowboarding, camping, Disney, learning how to ice skate and taking care of her four furry kids.

The Black Katts spring season will start next month when the snow melts and they are able to get back onto the field.

 

The opinions expressed in this paper are not necessarily those of Winona State University, the Minnesota State Colleges and University system, or the Winona State University student body.