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Toliver, An Example of America's Best

National Teams

Toliver, An Example of America's Best

Toliver during the All Americans' undefeated run at the LVI. (Dave Barpal photo)

There was solid talent on display at the LVI’s Girls High School Elite division, but all eyes were on the All Americans in their debut performance. It is so rare to view national age grade teams at a well attended U.S. event, and today’s spectators were eager to know what a team of the best high schoolers looks like.

“They’re all up there,” All American Nia Toliver said of her teammates’ standard of play. “They’ve all been picked for a reason, and it’s clear when you see them play.”

Coincidentally, that statement couldn’t be truer for the ICEF native. All of the players were fast, aggressive, evasive – truly exciting – but Toliver was a difference-maker. She was unstoppable inside opponents’ 22, and handled her body with the confidence of someone who spent months playing on a women’s team in New Zealand.

“Yeah, that [public recognition] happens, people come up to me,” Toliver admitted meekly. “But I don’t want people to think, ‘Oh there’s Miss International who knows everything.’ I try to humble myself a lot; I’m just a rugby player playing with everybody else.”

A bit of an understatement. Toliver would have represented the USA at the Youth Olympic Games if she wasn’t in New Zealand at the time. Upon her return to the U.S., she’s been to two 7s camps in Chula Vista, and she’s been invited to spend two months over the summer at the Olympic Training Center.

“There’s a few of them,” Toliver reflected on her 7s idols. “I like their personalities and the way they play. Ida [Bernstein], she’s really kooky but a really good player. [Kelly] Griff[in], she’s the hard-working leader type that I look up to. Then you have KJ [Katie Johnson], who gets on your case if you do anything wrong. And then everyone else comes up and gives you pointers, but it’s between those three.”

Toliver shared a special connection with Herriman (Utah) graduate and current Davenport University wing Ashlee Byrge. Both have an exciting mix of speed and power, and they read each other well. Being here with fellow stars (Toliver scored eight tries for ICEF against Fullerton last weekend) is precious, but Toliver does a lot away from these assemblies to ensure she’s continually invited back.

“I do Crossfit three days a week and I train a lot by myself,” Toliver explained her work outside of ICEF games and practices. “It’s all about: How bad do I want to be what I want to be? And that drives me.”

Toliver and her All American teammates have done something special today. They educated a large portion of the American rugby public what it means to be at the top of the high school game, and they’ve set a high standard.

“It’s an honor,” Toliver reflected on what it meant to debut the All American 7s team. “I’m paving the way for girls after me. It’s very exciting.”

The Girls HSAA 1 will play its Cup quarterfinal against Orem at 8 a.m. at Heritage Park. The Girls HSAA 2 will play the Washington Loggers at 9 a.m. in the quarterfinals.