ForeverMissed
With great sadness, we announce the death of beloved rugby legend Kathy Flores after losing her battle with colon cancer. 

Kathy’s rugby families at Brown University, Providence Women’s Rugby, Berkeley All Blues, Cal Berkeley Women’s Rugby Club, San Francisco Women’s Rugby, San Francisco Fog RFC, Pacific Coast All Star Rugby Team, Women’s Eagles, Florida State University and the U.S. Women’s Rugby Foundation will mourn her passing. 

A virtual celebration of Kathy's life is being planned. More information to come.

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.

In accordance with Kathy's wishes, the Foundation has established a memorial fund to pay tribute to her legacy and allow her contributions to the sport to continue. Click here to read about Kathy and make a contribution.

We also have set up this site to share pictures, memories, and tributes.

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.
Posted by Janine Pardee on November 9, 2021
This is a gallery of women's rugby legacy, those who played with or against Kathy, those who were coached by Kathy, or those who coached teams that played against Kathy's teams. Universally we remember with great respect for her accomplishments as an athlete, teammate, coach, leader, and advocate. Many of you are so lucky to play or have played rugby in the Post-Flores World of Women's Rugby!  Others of us are lucky to have been witnesses to greatness within a great sport.
Posted by Melodi Dincer on November 6, 2021
Starting to process this devastating loss has helped throw into sharp relief the indelible impact just one person can have on so many lives.

Kathy transcended the traditional boundaries of the Coach/Rugger relationship in all the right ways--she showed up for us over and over again in ways sometimes our own friends, family, and even selves failed to. For me personally, Kathy treated me with relentless love and respect. She always made me feel safe and welcome to express whatever I was experiencing, without qualifications, and she was never, ever patronizing (even when I was being dramatic...). Despite the immense gap in our age and experiences, we shared a friendship filled with laughter, great music, impromptu dance sessions during our frequent Blue State chats, intellectual openness, and a willingness to talk about hard things when necessary. And that was all outside of our extra time working on my ball handling etc., extra time Coach was always willing to provide for her players. There are so many moments--good and bad--that I could mention where Kathy helped guide me in a positive direction, even if she wasn't aware of it at the time. When my favorite aunt passed away suddenly an ocean away, it was on Kathy's couch and through the comfort of her big bear hugs that I let myself feel real grief for the first time. When I got into law school, Kathy was the first to buy me a celebratory pint (or three). One time when practice was cancelled, she even showed up with the entire team to support me at one of my a capella concerts--signs and all! On our long bus rides to away games, my favorite part was always when I would inevitably go up to the front to sit with Coach and talk her ear off about random stuff. We talked about gender and athletics so often during those bus rides that she even started coming to my Gender and Sexuality course! I will always cherish Kathy's open mind.

Kathy also modeled true leadership to me, and I am constantly striving to apply all that I learned from her in my own life and career. She exercised authority without domination, placing us all on common footing to achieve a shared goal. She inspired us to push ourselves and achieve more than we could have imagined without her unyielding faith. And she would let you know right away when you let her down, but she would never do it in a hurtful way. She had so much tact that you could feel her disappointment as your own, and it would push you to live up to your potential--something Kathy had a gift of seeing in others long before they could see it themselves.

I've been using the past tense to describe her and her impact on my life so far, but Kathy's passing does not make her a figure of the past. Far from it. Kathy continues to live on in every single person who had the honor of meeting her and, for us lucky bunch, knowing her well. Kathy remains my Coach, mentor, and my friend. I love her, I'll miss her, and I'll keep striving to live a life as special as hers.
Posted by David Pelton on November 4, 2021
Kathy made me want to be better

Didn't matter whether I was refereeing her teams, coaching against her, coaching teams trying to make the Pac Coast squad, or dealing with administrative matters.

Her opinions and voice mattered to me and set me up to aspire for higher outcomes.

I'll miss you, Kathy.

Thanks for the time you shared with me.
Posted by Kathleen P on October 23, 2021
Some people make ripples in your life that last a long long time. I'm not a coach, and I was only a player for a moment. But I'm a teacher. And when I think of the kind of teacher I want to be, its the kind of coach I only had once, a coach who met everyone where they were, had high expectations and a keen sense of the meaning of of a team. Thanks, Kathy. I hope I can be half of that. Safe journeys on.
Posted by Kevin McCaslin on October 22, 2021
Kathy was a wonderful person who took the time to listen and the time to mentor. She made time for me and my family in a busy schedule. I enjoyed every moment I spent on a rugby pitch with Kathy because of her intensity and commitment. She is a credit to rugby and to USA Rugby. 
Posted by Lauren Perlman on October 22, 2021
May peace be with you my friend. You made this world a better place. With your laughter, your friendship, your passion and leadership. A friend and inspiration to so many. The fond memories you left us with and stories we can all tell. To me, you will always be my dollface. 
Posted by Eric Keys on October 22, 2021
I was lucky to meet Kathy a few times at various events. Such a generous person, willing to share herself and her knowledge, welcoming us as learning coaches. We will miss you Kathy. -Eric
Posted by Bondy Gibson-Learn on October 22, 2021
You are not called to be a canary in a cage.  You are called to be an eagle and to fly, sun to sun, over continents. Henry Ward Beecher

Thanks for a life spent showing others how to spread their wings.... Bondy Shay
Posted by Clare Sup Zonsu on October 22, 2021
When on the pitch, I was one of those hapless souls that would furiously follow Kathy when she would break with the ball. It was not enough to run with her, for she had eyes in the front, side, and back of her head and would throw a blind pass that was a bullet! You had to know it was coming, for there would be no hint. That's how she was; seeing more than most, relying on those around her while she led the way. Kathy, you haven't left, but I think still leading to the next adventure.
Posted by Alex Boskovich on October 22, 2021
From the moment I ran to meet you to now as you transition away, I knew how lucky I was to be in your presence, to have your attention, to earn your respect, and to receive your love (and epic hugs and laughs).

You gave me so much both on and off the field.

You inspired and pushed me to fully realize my strength and value at so many critical phases of my life.

You defined what it meant to be a competitor in moments hardship, triumph, and the split second opportunities that so few could see and even more incredibly, create.

I love you friend.

I will miss you as my lifetime mentor.

And I promise you, Coach that just like when I was still coming of age as a women’s premier league rugby player on a dynasty team that *you created* and *defined the lives of too many to count*, I will not let you down.

Bosko

Berkeley All Blues Women's Rugby Team
#allbluesallday
Posted by Ryan Wager on October 21, 2021
Hey Coach!

I remember the time I had my bicep torn off in a match on treasure island. Scared me, but I didn’t know it was as bad as it was until the next line out when you made me come off the pitch and pull my jersey off only to watch it spring up like you knew it would. You literally didn’t flinch, immediately got me the help I needed, and then got right back to yelling at Dany for not passing the ball.

That’s how I will always remember you. Cool, calm, collected, expert, mom… Coach.

Posted by julia mccoy on October 21, 2021
I wanted to be like Kathy.

Like all the comments above, she saw something in all of us; coach to player, coach to coach.

She was easy to love; there fore, easy to follow.

Let's all try to be like Kathy.

Jules McCoy #3

Posted by Lenny L. on October 21, 2021
I had the fortune to meet Kathy during her tenure with the All Blues and San Francisco women’s rugby club. She was such a special person who inspired generations of rugby players. A fierce competitor and a warm heart. She will be missed by many and her memory will be carried by her rugby family.
Posted by Jen Renne on October 21, 2021
An extraordinary human being. Kathy was a mentor and hero. So many precious memories. She was intense and fierce, with a huge heart. May her spirit and grace live on in each of us.
Posted by Jessie Fowler on October 21, 2021
Thank you for being a true example of a leader for women. In the couple years playing for Providence womens rugby I never respected a coach more than Kathy. Her presence was exceptional and pushed all of us to give it 110% on the field. She taught me so many qualities about being a leader and a fighter no matter how hard things get. She was patient, understanding, fun, and powerful. She led us to a championship and always had our back. A true legend, will never be forgotten. So much love for you Kathy I’m honored to have these memories with you
Posted by Fabio Pirola on October 21, 2021
I had met you casually, but luckly, and I had the great opportunity to learn to coach from you.
Even though it had been only few months, that experience shaped me as a coach and as a person.
I'll be forever grateful for your openness, kindness and passion, to made me a better coach and, more important, a better soul.
You'll be really missed.
Posted by Laura Elizabeth on October 21, 2021
I learned everything I know about rugby from Kathy. But I am much more grateful for what she taught me about being a competitor, leader, and teammate. She was truly an amazing human being and I'm so glad I got the opportunity to know her and be on the pitch with her. Rest in Power.
Posted by Emily Hausman on October 21, 2021
I was honored to know Kathy at the end of her coaching career. She coached Providence Rugby in her free time because she loved to grow the sport. She helped unite and grow the team. She was passionate, loyal, and kind. You will be greatly missed, Kathy.
Posted by Susan Stabler on October 21, 2021
Kathy was a tough opponent and a good friend to catch up with for many years. I can't thank her enough for all of her contributions to our beloved sport. I will miss her ever-present smile.
Posted by Colleen Fahey on October 21, 2021
As a rookie I was blessed to play alongside Kathy as she was our player/coach at FSU. Her standards were high and even if we were winning a match by a lot, she constantly pushed for excellence in every single situation. Her confidence and knowledge of the game was absolutely magnetic and we all joked that we would happily follow her over a cliff if she asked - and it was true. She brought out the best in me personally and we shared so many laughs and silly inside jokes that have lasted so many years. All the years that I coached afterwards I always tried to channel Kathy’s leadership, strategic thinking and drills to my team. She was also extremely humble and always shirked the spotlight that she deserved. I will miss knowing that she is just a text or phone call away. Rest in peace, Kathy and know that your memory and legacy is treasured and lasting.
Posted by Arlene Grejda on October 21, 2021
I was only coached by Kathy at 1 camp. I probably wasn’t the lock she would have picked, but I was the lock she got. I never had a more knowledgeable coach, a more patient coach, or a tougher coach. I learned so much from her. I was not the same player after that camp. She had a massive impact in even the smallest things.
Posted by Carol W on October 21, 2021
Such lovely tributes! Certainly speaks to the huge contribution Kathy made to Rugby and the empowerment of young women, as well as the extremely warm embrace she gave to all she touched. I can feel the warmth of your hug.
Your legacy of leadership, friendship and courage will be treasured by all.
Rest in Peace.
Posted by Pamela Gouws on October 21, 2021
The memories of playing rugby with Kathy on the Olde Girls are vivid. Under her calm leadership as scrum half on the pitch, the team felt a sense of strength in the face of much younger teams. Kathy lead with positive vibes both on and off the pitch. Heartbroken and sad beyond words that such a wonderful soul has left us. Thank you for touching our lives.
Posted by Mary Dixey on October 21, 2021
You didn't just make us better, you made us want to be better. 
May the road rise up to meet you, Flo.
Posted by Fran Gilbert on October 21, 2021
Thank you, Kathy for introducing me to the game of rugby, for making me believe I could play and succeed in this crazy sport we all love, and for being my friend. I am a better person for knowing you and although the world is a sadder place without you in it, your light, your laughter, and your amazing spirit will live on with everyone who was blessed to know you. RIP my friend.
Posted by Bryn Chivers on October 21, 2021
This past July I got to sit and chat with Kathy at a tournament, the last chat of many in the almost forty years I knew her. Coaches are an amalgam of every idea they borrowed from another coach, and every time I step on the practice field a piece of Kathy's knowledge of the game steps on with me.

Tonight, before the running and the stretching, before the passing and the tackling, I will gather together a group of college-age women and explain why they owe so much to this wonderful woman.
Posted by Lara Vivolo on October 21, 2021
One of my favorite quotes from Coach… “No one said it was going to be easy….but it will be worth it.” Thank you Coach for inspiring every athlete you worked with to be better than they were yesterday. It was an honor and privilege to have played for you and my country and the memories will be with me forever….You will be missed greatly xoxo
Posted by Nyatasha Jackowicz on October 21, 2021
Kathy was the most knowledgable coach I’ve ever had. Although I never played a formal season under her while she was with Providence Women's Rugby, I was fortunate enough to learn from her during the summers on Providence’s team when I wasnt playing rugby undergrad at Bryant University. Kathy was able to pin point where my confidence was lacking on the field and encouraged me to overcome my hesitations. She helped me understand that forwards can take the ball and score just as much as the backs. I am grateful for all of the lessons, laughs and fun I’ve had at her practices and I will forever miss her presence on the pitch. Thank you Kathy for everything you’ve done for me and the rugby community. You will be missed immensely and I know you’ll be with us always. ❤️
Posted by Jami Jordan on October 21, 2021
Kathy's contributions to the game are unparalleled. She helped me be a better steward, competitor and one memorable time, a teammate. What I will remember most is her warm embrace. It too was unparalleled. Peace be with you, Kathy.
Posted by Kerri Heffernan on October 21, 2021
There will never be another quite like Kathy. The combination of kindness, honesty and humor - her respect and love for the sport. She was such a good friend but I always admired her so. She will always be my favorite Poodle.
Posted by Krista McFarren on October 21, 2021
-- a Voice strong enough that you listened,
but gentle enough that you were heard...
-- her Heart so big, and passionate always...
-- her Soul touched many, with small gestures, balanced words and powerful actions both on and off the field...
--her Love was for ALL, old and young, big and small, two legged and four...

Kathy-- we will miss you... but Feel you Always..
Posted by Jeanna Beard on October 21, 2021
I've only met Kathy a handful of times coming into the "elite" rugby scene a little later in my career. She hosted a clinic for the DC Furies when I first started with the club, and she took the time to individually introduce herself to my teammates and me, and talked to me about my martial arts accomplishments. She knew before I told anyone - I'll remember that about her forever because she takes the time to research, learn, and remember about people on different teams. Was Google even a thing, or did she have to Ask Jeeves? She was something special. I appreciate her individualization and making nobodies like me feel seen.
Posted by Darryl Brooks on October 21, 2021
Aside from her rugby knowledge and accomplishments, Kathy was very sweet and kind. She loved you if you loved the sport. I consider myself extremely lucky to have crossed paths with her. I think of all things, her hugs and kisses on the cheek will be missed more than anything.
Posted by Christopher Holman on October 21, 2021
She was always glowing with her vibrant energy and smile. Will never forget the things you taught me. She had high expectations of me and knew exactly what to say to bring it out of me. Forever grateful to learn and be around you. You will be missed.
Posted by U.S. Women's Rugby Founda... on October 21, 2021
A good friend and coach helped begin the reframing of my sorrow by saying that in their country they say that a player has "gone on tour" when they leave us. "It is something that one does with pride while looking forward to the competition and playing great matches with their mates."

I can think of no better way to imagine our fierce, competitive friend than remembering how she prepared for and played on tour as a player or coach.

Our sport has lost a visionary leader. We've lost a dear friend who has left the bar high for the rest of us.

Kathy, cheers to your final tour!

Danita
Board Chair USWRF
Posted by Connie Jakubcin on October 21, 2021
You've left the world a better place, and made me a better person for having known you. Your amazing presence will be hugely missed.
Posted by Patty Jervey on October 21, 2021
Oh Captain, my Captain. Safe journey and big love. See you on the pitch.

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Janine Pardee on November 9, 2021
This is a gallery of women's rugby legacy, those who played with or against Kathy, those who were coached by Kathy, or those who coached teams that played against Kathy's teams. Universally we remember with great respect for her accomplishments as an athlete, teammate, coach, leader, and advocate. Many of you are so lucky to play or have played rugby in the Post-Flores World of Women's Rugby!  Others of us are lucky to have been witnesses to greatness within a great sport.
Posted by Melodi Dincer on November 6, 2021
Starting to process this devastating loss has helped throw into sharp relief the indelible impact just one person can have on so many lives.

Kathy transcended the traditional boundaries of the Coach/Rugger relationship in all the right ways--she showed up for us over and over again in ways sometimes our own friends, family, and even selves failed to. For me personally, Kathy treated me with relentless love and respect. She always made me feel safe and welcome to express whatever I was experiencing, without qualifications, and she was never, ever patronizing (even when I was being dramatic...). Despite the immense gap in our age and experiences, we shared a friendship filled with laughter, great music, impromptu dance sessions during our frequent Blue State chats, intellectual openness, and a willingness to talk about hard things when necessary. And that was all outside of our extra time working on my ball handling etc., extra time Coach was always willing to provide for her players. There are so many moments--good and bad--that I could mention where Kathy helped guide me in a positive direction, even if she wasn't aware of it at the time. When my favorite aunt passed away suddenly an ocean away, it was on Kathy's couch and through the comfort of her big bear hugs that I let myself feel real grief for the first time. When I got into law school, Kathy was the first to buy me a celebratory pint (or three). One time when practice was cancelled, she even showed up with the entire team to support me at one of my a capella concerts--signs and all! On our long bus rides to away games, my favorite part was always when I would inevitably go up to the front to sit with Coach and talk her ear off about random stuff. We talked about gender and athletics so often during those bus rides that she even started coming to my Gender and Sexuality course! I will always cherish Kathy's open mind.

Kathy also modeled true leadership to me, and I am constantly striving to apply all that I learned from her in my own life and career. She exercised authority without domination, placing us all on common footing to achieve a shared goal. She inspired us to push ourselves and achieve more than we could have imagined without her unyielding faith. And she would let you know right away when you let her down, but she would never do it in a hurtful way. She had so much tact that you could feel her disappointment as your own, and it would push you to live up to your potential--something Kathy had a gift of seeing in others long before they could see it themselves.

I've been using the past tense to describe her and her impact on my life so far, but Kathy's passing does not make her a figure of the past. Far from it. Kathy continues to live on in every single person who had the honor of meeting her and, for us lucky bunch, knowing her well. Kathy remains my Coach, mentor, and my friend. I love her, I'll miss her, and I'll keep striving to live a life as special as hers.
Posted by David Pelton on November 4, 2021
Kathy made me want to be better

Didn't matter whether I was refereeing her teams, coaching against her, coaching teams trying to make the Pac Coast squad, or dealing with administrative matters.

Her opinions and voice mattered to me and set me up to aspire for higher outcomes.

I'll miss you, Kathy.

Thanks for the time you shared with me.
Recent stories

Gone on Tour

Shared by U.S. Women's Rugby Founda... on October 21, 2021
A good friend and coach helped begin the reframing of my sorrow by saying that in their country they say that a player has "gone on tour" when they leave us. "It is something that one does with pride while looking forward to the competition and playing great matches with their mates."

I can think of no better way to imagine our fierce, competitive friend than remembering how she prepared for and played on tour as a player or coach.

Our sport has lost a visionary leader.  We've lost a dear friend who has left the bar high for the rest of us.

Kathy, cheers to your final tour!

Danita
Board Chair USWRF