CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Coming off a record season of two Ivy titles, a 15s national championship appearance and bronze medal at 7s nationals, Harvard women's rugby head coach Mel Denham has added two-time world cup competitor Sylvia Braaten to the coaching staff.
"We couldn't be more thrilled to welcome Sylvia to the Harvard Women's Rugby family," said Denham. "Her extensive knowledge on the field and in-depth understanding of physical performance and lifestyle make her the perfect fit for the growth of our program. Sylvia will be an invaluable addition to our team, and in the development of our student-athletes on and off the field.
Braaten joins the Crimson after spending the past year working with the USA U20 team as an assistant coach and member of the USA Rugby high performance team. A former athlete and co-captain on the USA Women's National Team, Braaten has represented the United States at two 15s world cups (2014, 2017) and on the international 7s stage. Since 2018, she has served as director of operations for Englebert Training Systems, where she handles programming, administration, and implementation of performance programs for athletes of all calibers.
"I couldn't be more excited to join the coaching staff for Harvard women's rugby," said Braaten. "Harvard is an incredible institution and I am grateful for the opportunity to coach full time and give back to the game that has given me so much. I'm looking forward to building off last year's success as we head into the 2019 season".
Braaten competed in the Women's Premier League as a center for the Twin Cities Amazons, serving as an athlete and captain since 2009. She was previously an assistant coach for the University of Minnesota's women's team in 2015 and 2017, and has conducted tackling clinics for New Prague Youth Football Association.
"Sylvia's passion for rugby and love of the game is infectious," continued Denham. "Her natural leadership, commitment to excellence and dedication to growing the game align with our vision. I couldn't think of a better person than Sylvia to join our team at this time, to support the direction and growth of our program."
Hailing from Lauderdale, Minnesota, Braaten is a 2007 graduate of Marquette University where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in exercise science and is an NSCA-CSCS Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.