Boulder, Colo. -- With over 100 promising athletes competing for a place in the 2012 Junior All-Americans, two separate camps had to be implemented to properly observe and accommodate the nationwide search for the next era of potential Eagles. After holding two separate selection camps in Atlanta and San Francisco over the winter break, the Junior All-American's have taken the first step to a busy and exciting 2012 season.
Over forty young rugby players from across the western United States gathered in San Francisco in early January to be put through their paces and experience High Performance rugby first hand as potential All-Americans. Scott Lawrence, the Head Coach of the Junior All-American’s, wanted to epitomize a philosophy of hard work and commitment to one’s goals as the players were put through two tough days of skills and fitness.
During the camp, Lawrence stressed his management style of getting “more eyeballs on the players” by implementing help from former Eagles Chris Osentowski and others to act as talent identifiers throughout the week. These coaches would interact with and observe assigned groups of players on a smaller, almost personal, level in hopes of reducing the chance for an athlete to fall through the cracks at such a large scale camp. This helped the entire management team keep track of players and combinations, while also to creating systems which the whole roster would not only understand, but also perform well in. However, he also wished for the boys to enjoy the opportunity and the chances rugby offered them all to taste the High Performance life style.
Throughout the camp Coach Lawrence wanted to install an attitude of “winning every day.” For the modern high performance rugby player, he explained, one cannot survive by just training hard and eating properly while at camp, but that one needed to accept the challenge and make due sacrifices to not only step into the next level but compete successfully at that level also. During the week long camp, Lawrence and his staff preached time management, organizational skills outside of rugby, and a daily commitment to excelling in all facets of life.
Away from the learning experience of the winter camp, the potential All-Americans displayed a “high level of athleticism” according to Lawrence, noting that over a dozen athletes in the 47-man roster had at least a 30 inch vertical leap, a key indicator of athletic ability and strength. In regards to this athleticism, Lawrence continued to explain that the success of the Junior All-Americans is not gauged by the short term win rate of the team in the coming months, but by how many names on the current roster show up on the Collegiate All-Americans and Eagles in the future.
Standouts among the camp included Pasefika Iosia, a wing who displayed supreme athleticism in the camp’s culminating scrimmage. Also showing promising ability are two young forwards, Danny Metcalf of Penn State and Tim O’Hara of Santa Clara. Metcalfe recently returned from a stint in Ireland where he not only gained some good body size but also confidence, noted Coach Lawrence. Lawrence also noted that back rower Tim O’Hara showed good leadership skills during the camp and especially on the pitch from the back of the scrum. Alex Taefu, a scrumhalf who excelled in the High School All-Americans last year, showed great ability and a certain maturity in his play.
That continuous improvement is exactly what the High Performance program within USA Rugby is looking for: consistency of play and an ability among the athletes to continue their rise through the age-grade development and hopefully, one day, into an Eagles uniform.