Fallbrook Rugby Club coach Marin Pinnell was recognized as USA Rugby’s Female Coach of the Year for 2013 during the Banquet of Champions which was part of the 2014 USA Rugby National Development Summit held February 21-23 in Philadelphia.
“It’s really exciting,” said Pinnell, who was unable to travel to Philadelphia for the summit and banquet and will receive her award by mail. “I’m honored and it’s really cool and I hope that I’m a model for other coaches.”
This is Pinnell’s seventh year coaching the Fallbrook Rugby Club program. She currently coaches the under-18 girls team and the under-15 girls team. The under-18 girls team won its third consecutive national championship in May; in Pinnell’s first six years the team was also the national runner-up one other year. The under-15 division is new to the Southern California Rugby Football Union; that classification merges the under-14 and under-16 divisions in place during 2013. Pinnell coached the under-14 and under-16 teams in 2013, and her three teams had a combined record of 35-1. Three of her players – current Fallbrook High School senior Casey Karl and current juniors Richelle Stephens and Emma Workman – attended USA Rugby’s initial Stars vs. Stripes camp July 9-13 in Greeley, Colorado (current Fallbrook High School junior Steven Branham was one of the boys who attended the camp, which culminated in July 13 games). Last year’s USA Rugby junior all-Americans included 2013 Fallbrook High School graduate Megan Pinson, who was also named by rugbymag.com as the 2013 girls high school player of the year and who is now attending American International College on a full rugby scholarship.
“The program’s doing well,” Pinnell said.
Pinnell and her husband, Craig, run the program. “You can say that it is our life, our life’s work,” she said.
Numerous parents have served as assistant coaches or as leaders of non-coaching functions. “We have lots of parents that help us out,” Pinnell said. “We’ve developed that over seven years so that not one person has all the work.”
Marin and Craig Pinnell have been married for 15 years. “I had no rugby experience before I married him,” she said.
Marin Pinnell, who now teaches at Fallbrook High School, is a 1994 Fallbrook High School graduate who spent four years as a player in the Warriors’ field hockey program. She did not play any sports at the University of California, San Diego, when she attended college.
Craig Pinnell is originally from South Africa. “He was very into rugby,” Marin said.
Craig Pinnell, who was raised in Kwazulu-Natal, played rugby in high school. He played friendly games while he was serving in the army, although he was not on an official army team.
The two met when Marin was a receptionist in the art gallery where Craig’s aunt was the framing specialist. The aunt introduced the future couple to each other.
Marin Pinnell visited her husband’s family in South Africa and attended rugby matches for the first time. Craig Pinnell brought his love of rugby to Fallbrook. “He was kind of feeling homesick a bit, so rugby became an outlet,” Marin said. “We just built on that and now it’s our life, our passion, and we really love it.”
Marin Pinnell doesn’t play on any teams other than during practice. “We work hard and we put a lot of time into our team and our club, and it pays off with good results,” she said.