Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Meet The Team CC7s Edition: Jojo Tikoisuva

"BEAT NEW ZEALAND" became something of a battle cry at the American Pro Rugby Training Center back in August. The camp hosted by former Eagles Women's 7s Coach Julie McCoy featured players ranging from age 16 to age 30 to train for five days in a high performance environment. The older players brought veteran leadership and experience as Club 7s National Champions, as attendees of other elite camps, as members of various touring sides. The younger players brought possibility and potential.

Jojo came recommended to the Stars from fellow Sacramento native Nana when we were seeking player nominations for our Calgary Stampede 7s tour. He had to decline the invite as he was soon leaving for Argentina with the High School All Americans and had another trip to follow to China for the Youth Olympic Games. Jojo reached out regarding the Australia tour the same week as a roster spot opened and, given his strong resume - playing for All American Coach Salty Thompson is a great start for any young rugby player's career - we extended the invite. Jojo will be the youngest player on our tour and with his age and experience, he embodies the profile of the players needed for the USA to one day beat New Zealand.

This tour will provide the opportunity for Jojo to progress from the age grade level of competition to men's elite 7s, to train and receive mentorship from the players in our program that have spent time as senior all-stars and have trained at Eagles 7s camps. The guidance from the coaches, again with international experience evaluating and developing talent, will give Jojo the feedback and assistance in goal-setting and future programming to reach the next level. Some may look at an 18 year old player as too rookie, too raw, too young for a tour of this nature; we look at him and see potential that deserves to be developed. If we can test him now and he can experience senior level international 7s, he can produce for his club and his country for years to come.

Here's Jojo's story:

Hi my name is Joeli Tikoisuva and I also go by Jojo. I am 18 years old and love playing rugby. Rugby has always been a big part of my life. My family is very rugby oriented we would go to the USA Sevens tournaments every year since it was hosted in LA 2002 through the 2014 Vegas Sevens.

Growing up and watching my older brother play club rugby in the Bay Area really pushed me to follow in his footsteps. I started playing touch rugby when I was 9 years old and stopped for a while. When I was in the 7th grade I started playing wing for the Sacramento Islanders High School Rugby Club in Sacramento, California. I played in many All Star games representing Sacramento, and Northern California.

2011 was one of the roughest years for me as on September 11th I lost some one that was very close to me, like a father figure to me. After his passing I pushed myself even more to improve in rugby because I know that is what he would've wanted. I was then selected to try out for the USA Rugby High School All Americans and made the team that traveled to England. I continued pushing myself because I wanted to make a name for myself and play at a higher level.

In August of 2014 I was honored to represent the United States of America in Nanjing, China for the Youth Olympics. This I believe is only the beginning for of my next journey to play at an even higher level. Playing for Stars 7s I believe can help me gain experience and also help me get closer to my dreams of playing rugby for the Eagles not in just Rio 2016, but for iRB 7s and future Olympic Games.

Jojo is currently fundraising for the Australia tour; his gofundme page to support his efforts is here.

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