CASTLETON, Vt. - Castleton University Associate Dean for Athletics and Recreation, Deanna Tyson, is pleased to announce the hiring Frank Graziano as the head coach of the Castleton women's rugby team.
"We're thrilled to welcome Frank to Castleton," said Tyson. "He has a wealth of experience and knowledge coaching rugby at the collegiate level and I look forward to seeing what he can do with our new varsity program."
Graziano comes to Castleton after an impressive and innovative 16-year career as the head coach of the Division I women's rugby program at Eastern Illinois. During his career, he had an impressive 122-31 record for a .797 winning percentage, with a 104-19 mark as a certified Division I program. Graziano was instrumental in Eastern Illinois becoming the first official NCAA Division I women's rugby team in 2002. He also coached the first-ever NCAA sanctioned women's rugby contest, between his Panthers and West Chester in 2007. Graziano posted a winning record in 14 of his 16 seasons, including four undefeated seasons and five more with just a single loss.
"I am honored to be selected as the first head coach of the Castleton women's rugby program," said Graziano. "I will give all I have to make this program successful and for the community and university to be proud of our accomplishments. To me, being successful is the end product achieved by doing the right thing on a daily basis and I look forward to getting the process started. Finally, I'm thankful to Deanna Tyson, President Wolk and the search committee for this opportunity."
In addition to his impressive coaching record, he has also developed a number of impressive rugby athletes, highlighted by Lauren Doyle and Becky Carlson and Michelle Reed. Doyle is currently a member of the USA Women's Sevens, which will compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Carlson is a former EIU standout and assistant coach under Graziano, who is now the head coach of Quinnipiac. This past season she led the Bobcats to their first NCVWRA National Championship with a 24-19 win over Army. Reed, meanwhile, is currently the head rugby coach at Sacred Heart and helped the team through its first varsity season this past year. Reed was previously an assistant at Quinnipiac and Eastern Illinois, and played for Graziano played at EIU.
Graziano is the first coach for the women's rugby program since it was elevated to varsity status earlier this year. Castleton will compete at the NCAA level beginning this fall and is the third Division III school to offer rugby as an NCAA varsity sport, along with Bowdoin College and Norwich University. For a complete list of NCAA schools which compete in rugby at the varsity level, click here.
Prior to Eastern Illinois, Graziano served as an assistant coach for the Women's National Team U-23 program, and was National Event Coordinator and Collegiate Director for the USA Rugby organization. He also created the women's rugby team at his alma mater back in 1995 as Clemson recorded a 21-4 record its first two seasons. He also had a 91-38-4 record with the Clemson men's squad from 1992-1997.
Graziano is a graduate of Clemson University with a Bachelor of Science degree with a civil engineering emphasis.