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Some Surprises In USA 7s Player Origins

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Some Surprises In USA 7s Player Origins

One played high school rugby in Colorado and went on to play for Life University; the other grabbed 7s games with the Daytona Beach men while he was a high schooler and a college kid. Both are elite USA players now—Cody Melphy and Perry Baker at the LA 7s. David Barpal photo.

With the USA Men's and Women's 7s teams getting together this weekend for some practice games, we though we'd revisit where these players come from.

So we list every high school team these players played for (if they played rugby in high school) and every college team they played for. We also list other sports they played—but we're judicious as we only list sports the players were especially serious in, such as playing it instead of rugby in high school, or playing that sport in college.

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What you'll find is that the players come from varied backgrounds. Of the 42 players listed, all 42 played rugby either in high school or in college, with only Perry Baker not playing for an actual high school or college team (he played 7s for the Daytona Beach men's club). Twenty-seven played rugby both in high school and in college. Only four played just in high school—three going from high school directly into high performance programs, and one, Joe Schroeder, getting a scholarship for the cheerleading squad which precluded him playing rugby.

Women have been much more likely to be recruited from another sport to play in college. Nine women picked up rugby in college and has started their college careers playing some other sport. This is true of only two men's players. Twenty-nine different college teams are represented among thing group, ranging in status from clubs that get little school support (10 of those) to well-supported clubs (four of those), almost-varsity teams (four of those), and full varsity programs (11 of those). Seventeen players came from full varsity programs, and six more from programs that are as-good-as-varsity, but it's still notable that players come from all types of teams—it's as much the drive and athleticism of the player as anything else.

In terms of High School rugby, 31 players played rugby in high school, and, amazingly, only two high school teams—Tempe U19s in Arizona and Peninsula Green in California—can boast more than one alumnus. 

This is good news. This means players are being found in a variety of places. 

Men's 7s Origins
Player High School Team College Team Other Sport?
Joe Schroeder Royal Irish, Ind. Didn't play while in college Cheerleading
Anthony Welmers Grandville, Mich. Davenport  
Ben Pinkelman Cherry Creek, Colo. Colorado State  
Stephen Tomasin Santa Rosa, Calif. San Diego State  
Malon Al-Jiboori Union HS, Okla. Lindenwood  
Kevon Williams    NMHU Football
Cody Melphy  Littleton, Colo. Life University  
Maka Unufe United, Utah    
Malacchi Esdale Naples Bears, Fla. Central Florida  
Marcus Tupuola Belmont Shore, Calif. Notre Dame College  
Perry Baker Daytona*, Fla.   Football
Danny Barrett SFGG, Calif. Cal  
Brett Thompson  Tempe, Ariz. Arizona Football
Matai Leuta   Cal State Monterey**  
Harley Wheeler South Doyle, Tenn. Life University  
Gavan D'Amore-Morrison Brookline, Mass. AIC Football, Basketball
Christian Dyer Jesuit, Calif. Cal  
Madison Hughes Wellington College, UK Dartmouth  
Faitala Talapusi  Penn Green, Calif. Life West  
Martin Iosefo Kona, Hi. Montana Football
Maceo Brown Tempe, Ariz. Grand Canyon Football
Jacob Lachina   West Point  
Ben Broselle Chuckanut, Wash. UCLA  
Pat Blair Tacoma, Wash. Central Washington  
Folau Niua East Palo Alto, Calif.    
Naima Fuala'au Penn Green, Calif. Life West  
Women's 7s Origins
Player High School Team College Team Other Sport?
Lauren Doyle   Eastern Illinois Track, VB
Nicole Heavirland Glacier HS, Mon. West Point  
Kristi Kirshe   Williams Soccer
Ilona Maher Burlington, Vt. Quinnipiac  
Jordan Matyas Centennial HS, Alb. BYU  
Ari Ramsey White Horse, Pa. Lindenwood  
Stephanie Rovetti   Fresno State Track/Basketball
Nia Toliver View Park, Calif. AIC  
Meya Bizer The Woodlands, Texas Penn State  
Kayla Canett Fallbrook HS, Calif. Penn State  
Cheta Emba   Harvard Soccer
Jaz Gray Raleigh Venom, NC    
Abby Gustaitis   Maryland Basketball
Kasey McCravey   West Point Softball
Alena Olsen   Michigan Soccer/VB
Naya Tapper   North Carolina Track
Kris Thomas   Central Florida Track/Basketball

* Perry Baker played for Daytona Beach while in high school and in college, but this was a men's club team.
** Matai Leuta played with Cal State Monterey but was attending Monterey Peninsula College. Regardless, he did well enough to earn All America honors.