Princeton Women’s Rugby announced the hiring of Josie Ziluca as the team’s head coach starting this fall season. Ziluca has recently coached various USA Rugby High School All-American programs and the Atlantis U18 Elite Girls Team. This past September, she coached the North American Lions tour in France.

Ziluca brings experience from an extensive athletic repertoire. After playing Division I lacrosse and tennis at Longwood University, she picked up her first rugby ball in 2011 and joined the Longwood University Women’s Rugby Club. From there, she went on to play at the Northern Virginia Women’s Rugby Club (NOVA) and toured domestically with Atavus All-Stars as well as internationally with Atlantis 7s. She played on the San Diego Surfers teams that won Club 7s Nationals twice and played on the national level with USA 7s in 2014. Currently, she plays on the USA Touch Women’s Open Team and the San Diego Galaxy Women’s Touch Team.

Off the pitch, she is also a strong advocate for women in sports. Ziluca is the founder of Women In Rugby, a nonprofit organization that aims to infuse the rugby game with women in all avenues of the game and progress equity around the world and domestically through the sport.

As a coach, Ziluca is a great fit for Princeton Women’s Rugby for her emphasis on player and team development from both a technical and mental perspective. For over ten years, she has trained athletes in sprinting mechanics, agility, game conditioning, strength, and building team culture.

“Coaching is a joy for me because I feel that I am making an impact in people’s lives, and in turn my own,” said Ziluca. “Coaching forces growth from the players as well as myself. I live to grow into something I never knew I could be.”

Former Princeton Women’s Rugby head coach and long-time coaching consultant Emil Signes has known Ziluca since she began playing for Northern Virginia and invited her on several tours with Atlantis. The team had actually met Ziluca this past March in San Diego for guest coach training sessions.

“As she progressed as a player it became clear that she would become a great coach,” he recalls. “She was a great asset during our 2019 Spring Break tour in San Diego.”

Ziluca hopes to help Princeton Women’s Rugby grow into their full potential. She has stressed the importance of team connection, effective communication, and composed decision-making under pressure. In addition, she is focused on developing the individual player, emphasizing personal skill development, mental toughness, and self-confidence.

“My aim is for the players to have an experience of discovering self-awareness and finding their true strengths, as well as an understanding that hard work not only brings you closer to their teammates but also to themselves individually,” she said. “To put it simply, every single day of the season we should aim to better ourselves from the previous day.”

Though she describes herself as a very competitive person who loves to win, Ziluca’s main goal for the 15s season this fall is to learn and improve as a team along the way. 

“I find joy in the journey,” she said. “The destination may be sweet, but the road is the experience that gets you there.”