Former USA coach Kathy Flores was the inspiration for trailblazer Karameli.
Karameli Faaee could hardly have a better coaching role model than the late Kathy Flores, who coached USA from 2002 to 2011 having played in the first Women’s Rugby World Cup in 1991.
Until her death at the age of 66, following a battle with cancer, Kathy mentored Faaee and passed on her passion for coaching and improving players.
“Kathy became a mentor who encouraged me to dive into coaching immediately after playing,” Faaee told World Rugby.
“Whenever Kathy and I caught up, our conversations were about doing our best, believing in ourselves and paving the way for others.”
Faaee was born in California but raised in New Zealand, where she began her rugby journey playing touch at her local church and contact at high school.
She returned to the United States in 2013 and captained the USA Eagles to a fourth-place finish at the 2017 Women’s World Cup in Ireland, before making a smooth transition into coaching.
In 2019 Faaee made history by becoming the first woman to coach in men’s professional rugby in the United States, when she was appointed assistant coach of Rugby United New York.
She is now coach of New York Rugby Club in the Women’s Premier League and her enjoyment of coaching is infectious.
“I realised I wanted to be a coach when I recognised how much joy I felt sharing knowledge and supporting my team-mates,” Faaee said.
“When I got a taste of seeing the game from a different perspective I was hooked straight away.