CHULA VISTA, Calif. – The 12-man rugby sevens squad heading to Guadalajara, Mexico on October 24 to join Team USA at the 2011 Pan-American Games, will be engrained with a mantra that will help it maintain focus in the quadrennial tournament: 'Play in the moment.'
“Playing in the moment helps every athlete and staff member focus on the task at hand. Not to get distracted by the environment, from peripheral things we don’t have control over,” said USA Head Coach, Al Caravelli. “If we take care of the little things the big things take care of themselves.”
That mentality will be put into practice on the field on October 29 when the team will see Brazil, Chile, and rivals Canada in pool play. Their record from the first day will determine which teams they will face in the playoffs on October 30. The other pool consists of Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay, and Guyana.
Caravelli continued to say that the Pan-Am environment itself can be distracting, but the players must maintain focus.
As part of United States Olympic Committee and the guild of athletes and sports under the Team USA moniker, the USA Men’s Eagle Sevens team will compete in its first Olympic-style rugby sevens tournament. The Pan Am Games take place every four years and will serve as an Americas preview of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“You can imagine that in a multisport event with over 2,000 athletes, we have to be prepared for anything and everything to be thrown at us. On the field of play, we will not take anyone lightly. Every game we play, we'll have the attitude that it is a final, the players have embraced this and are executing.”
For the last week, the squad has been training at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista. That high performance training environment is paramount in the preparation for such a high-stakes and compressed tournament.
“It’s always a positive to be at the OTC training alongside current and former Olympians. Now for the first time, they will be with them and part of Team USA. The team knows what a huge honor this is to represent our sport and country at the Pan-Am Games."
Caravelli has named a fast, dynamic, explosive team with exceptional skills. That combination is a recipe for thrilling, and hopefully winning sevens rugby.
"The attitude of the team has been excellent. Very high energy. The tempo is fast and the most important element is that every session keeps getting better. They have an attitude and goal that every time we do something, we shoot to make it better,” Caravelli said.
“They know their roles, responsibilities, and what is expected of them. They are ready to perform,” added the coach.
The coach also expressed appreciation for the other eight players in camp, all of whom played a crucial role in the preparations for the traveling squad. Justin Boyd, Miles Craigwell, Andrew Durutalo, Paul Emerick (ruled out due to injury), Duncan Kelm, and Don Pati.
Team USA 2011 Pan-American Games Squad
Mark Bokhoven (Denver Barbarians; Ames, Iowa)
Colin Hawley (Olympic Club of San Francisco; Trowbridge, Calif.)
Rocco Mauer (Chicago Lions; Cleveland, Ohio)
Folau Niua (San Francisco Golden Gate; East Palo Alto, Calif.)
Milemoti Pulu (San Francisco Golden Gate; East Palo Alto, Calif.)
Nu’u Punimata (Old Puget Sound Beach; Seattle, Wash.)
Blaine Scully (Unattached; Sacramento, Calif.)
Roland Suniula (Boston; Boston, Mass.)
Shalom Suniula (Belmont Shore; San Diego, Calif.)
Zack Test (At Large; Palo Alto, Calif.)
Peter Tiberio (University of Arizona; Naperville, Ill.)
Maka Unufe (Utah Warriors; Provo, Utah)
Head Coach Al Caravelli (Ridgefield, Conn.)
Asst Coach Dave Williams (Denver, Colo.)
Video Analyst Paul Goulding(Aspen, Colo.)
Physio/TC Kristen Douhan (Denver, Colo.)
Medical Physician Dr. Hamish Kerr (Albany, N.Y.)