Thursday, October 16, 2014

Meet The Team CC7s Edition: Jessica (JT) Turner

When I first came across JT and her American flag scrum cap on the rugby field I HATED her. At the 2013 USA Rugby Club 7s Championships in Pittsburgh my Chicago Lions 7s team was in the same pool as her Berkeley All Blues side. We were both 2-0 heading into the final match of the day and both assured of making the Cup Quarterfinals, and winning that third match was crucial for seeding as whoever lost would come across the Pool B winners and 2012 Club 7s Champions, the San Diego Surfers.

My team lost that game 22-19 on a disputed call - what seemed to be a forward pass by Berkeley was also knocked-on and the referee said "forward", both teams stopped play because of the seemingly obvious infraction and we anticipated a scrum. However, the whistle was not blown and JT smartly picked up the ball and ran it in for a try. Their team went on to win the championship (adding to their collection as the most decorated women's rugby team in the Women's Premier League) and in the other 5 games only had 10 total points scored against them. DARN IT JT!

I came across her again this February in the Women's Elite bracket of the Las Vegas Invitational where she donned an Atlantis Rugby jersey. Once again her team got the best of us (and she may or may not have drop tackled me like no one else has) and we chatted after the match about Stars opportunities and keeping in touch. I extended her an invite to Calgary and to future tours and while Calgary didn't pan out due to club 7s scheduling, she did make our Central Coast 7s roster.

I got to see JT yet again at this year's Club 7s Championships in Seattle where her Berkeley team took 3rd place and saw her again 2 weeks later at the American Pro Rugby Training Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. She was a welcome veteran presence at the High Performance 7s Camp and made a difference on the pitch again with her hard running lines and ability to set her teammates into space. JT plays a unique role in the game of 7s - you'll see in Australia! Plus I'm glad I eventually got to know her off the pitch as a friend.

Here's more on JT in her words:
I started playing rugby in college at Humboldt State University after some rugby girls recruited me. Originally I was trying to play soccer but it didn't work out. Once I got started, I was hooked! It was so much fun and the girls were really cool, and I soon realized that this is the sport that I was born to play that I literally didn't know about until then. I played my couple years of college and then "retired" for a little bit.

Towards the end of graduate school I started to really miss rugby. I went to 2 Pacific Coast Grizzlies tryout camps to try and make the squad. I ended up making the first round of cuts (and I was ecstatic because I hadn't played rugby in 5 years), and I was able to travel to San Diego to scrimmage the SoCal Griffins. After meeting many All Blues and Coach Kathy Flores, I made the executive decision to move to the bay to play with Berkeley, and my goal was to be the best player I could possibly be so I could become an Eagle.

After playing with the All Blues for the past 2 years, I'm the proud owner of 2 gold medals from a WPL National Championship and a 7s Club National Championship, a silver from WPL, and a bronze from 7s this last summer. I've also been blessed to have toured with Atlantis 7s in Las Vegas last year and to Spain this past summer. I've also attended an ETC for 15s, trained at the American Pro Rugby Training Center in Little Rock, and am now on my first tour with the Stars 7s to Australia! 
I'm so happy to have learned and played for some spectacular rugby coaches throughout all my adventures as well as some amazing players and teammates. Rugby is awesome because it has taken me places I never thought I would go, I've met some of the best people I've ever known, and I've learned so much about myself as a person and an athlete through my career. I'm very grateful and blessed to have the love and support from people from all aspects of my life! Now I've got my eyes on USA 7s with my heart set on Rio. It's been a tough but amazing road, but I'm going forward as best I can and leaving the rest up to the universe to decide for me.

I'm super pumped for the Central Coast 7s because this will be my first time in Australia and will also be the best competition I will have faced in my career thus far. I'm ready to rip it up on the pitch as well as have a great time off it!! It's now time to show everyone that I am an awesome player and am ready for the next major step in my career!

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