I had the chance meet Nana in person and see her skills live when her Sacramento Amazons team played for the USA Rugby D2 National Championship in Madison, WI in June. They fell just short of upsetting defending champions (and Star Rebecca Trapp's team) the Pittsburgh Angels but in the process of the 36-26 loss had what was the closest and most exciting game on the day.
Nana excelled on the field for us in Canada in July and earned a week at the Olympic Training Center at Chula Vista as a result; she is currently back at the OTC with the USA Women's 7s program for another week with Eagles coach Ric Suggitt. The Amazons team also scored a huge upset this summer in beating then USA Rugby Club 7s National Champions (and Stars Jessica Turner's current team/Cynthia Wright's former team) the Berkeley All Blues in their final NorCal qualifier to make it to Seattle for the 7s National Championships. It has been fantastic watching her progress as a player and embracing all the opportunities before her since those first game clips in March.
Nana has been a huge asset for our program off the field as well. She brought her fantastic sister Mary to our team - who had to decline her invite to Australia as she is 6 months away from adding another Star to our family! - as well as another Amazon teammate Leka. She introduced Jojo to our men's side, brought in Pasifika Strength & Conditioning as a sponsor/partner, and continues to recruit for the program and represent us well. Nana is our youngest women's player and has a huge future ahead of her as she continues to commit and train for the game of rugby 7s!
Here's Nana's story in her words:
Hi my name is Joanne Fa'avesi better known as Nana! I am 22 years old and I am Tongan, Samoan and German. I started playing rugby when I was a Freshman in High School at Luther Burbank High School. I became a part of the Sacramento Amazons HS side in 2006. After my very first practice I fell in love and never looked back.
Since then I have played for multiple teams including the Sacramento Amazons, Berkeley All Blues and the USA U20 National Team. I love this game because it understands me. When I am playing nothing else matters but that moment. Rugby has done a lot for me and I can honestly say rugby has changed my life in tremendous ways. It has played an important role in who I am today. I am a better person today then I was before both on and off the field.
Playing higher level rugby didn't seem possible for me after HS level. Doors opened to me that changed my route and all I want to do is play higher level rugby because it will help improve my game. In rugby there is always something I can improve on and always something new to learn. My experience with the Stars to Canada was beyond what I expected. I had a great time and learned that the next level is another kind of beast that I must learn how to handle. So I will take what I learned from that tour into this next tour to Australia!
I am sure that the Central Coast 7s will be nothing short of amazing! Looking at the teams that are to attend reassures me that I will have the time of my life. All I can do is prepare and ball out. I would not have made it this far without God, my Family and my Support System! I am a God-fearing Polynesian woman that loves to play rugby!!
Nana is currently fundraising for her Central Coast 7s tour. Donate to her gofundme campaign here.