Kathleen “Kathy” Theresa Flores (1955-2021) was a rugby player and coach, winning multiple national championships over her 45-year career. She was a strong champion of the women’s rugby community and her contributions to the sport of rugby were extensive. Over her career, she won multiple national college and club championships, numerous awards, and is considered a pioneer and ground breaker in women’s rugby.
Kathy was a woman of many “firsts.” She was the first woman to coach any national rugby team and the first woman of color to coach a national team. She was the first captain of the USA Women’s Rugby Team in 1987 and was a member of the first 1991 World Cup Team, leading her side to victory.
Kathy’s career began in 1978 as a player at Florida State University where she captained and coached the team to four national championship titles. In 1985, she was a member of the grassroots-organized, invitational women’s national team, the first US women’s team to play international matches. Following that she was a member of the first official USA Women’s Rugby Team, which she was a part of through 1994. From 1994-2010 she embarked on arguably one of the most successful coaching stints of all time, leading the All Blues to eleven National Championships. She coached the USA Women’s Rugby Team from 2003 to 2010, and was the coach of the 2006 and 2010 US Women’s World Cup Team. In 2009, Kathy helped spearhead the Women’s Premier League.
In 2014 Kathy became Head Coach at Brown University, one of the first Division I NCAA teams, where she continued coaching until her death.
Kathy is most well-known as a beloved teammate, coach, mentor, and friend, and as a fierce advocate for women’s equity and access to rugby. Her vision was the spark for the founding of the U.S. Women’s Rugby Foundation.
We ask that coaches of women’s rugby take time at your next practice to tell your players about Kathy and what she meant to the game. She was a true pioneer and a hero.