Olympic Training Center hosts second Men’s Eagles High Performance Sevens camp

CHULA VISTA, Calif. – The second Men’s Eagles High Performance Sevens camp began Wednesday at the USOC Olympic Training Center and will continue through Tuesday, Aug. 26.

Men’s Eagles Head Coach Mike Tolkin, AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans Head Coach Billy Millard, and Men’s Sevens Director Alex Magleby join Men’s Eagles Sevens Head Coach Mike Friday and Assistant Coach Chris Brown at the OTC to assess 31 players, including 15 players in residency.

Nine of the players in camp – Perry Baker, Pat Blair, Andrew Durutalo, Nese Malifa, Aladdin Schirmer, Pila Taufa, Chris Turori, Maka Unufe, and Michael Ziegler – were members of the 2014 Serevi RugbyTown Sevens Cup-winning USA Falcons, coached by Brown.

Schirmer impressed Brown with Tony Pacheco’s AIG Men’s Collegiate All-Americans in Glendale, enough to warrant a call-up to the Falcons.

“We had a list of probably 20 players to look at this week and [Schirmer] wasn’t one of them,” he said. “He started at wing [for us] but moved to forward, and he created the go-forward on that outside channel that we need.”

Kingsley McGowan was also invited to camp after impressing the coaching staff with the MCAAs and Saint Mary’s College during the 2013-14 D1A Rugby season, but he was unavailable for camp. Another D1A representative, Ben Pinkelman of Colorado State University, has quickly moved his way through the high performance pathway.

After helping the MJAAs finish third at the 2014 IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy in Hong Kong, Pinkelman attended the Men’s Eagles’ Denver Camp prior to their June tests. He was also a member of Denver’s Elite City Sevens team and traveled with the Barbarians to Seattle for the 2014 USA Rugby Emirates Airline Club 7s National Championship. Pinkelman was also instrumental in Denver’s run to the Cup Final at Serevi RugbyTown Sevens.

Miles Craigwell, John Cullen, Derek Lipscomb, Rocco Mauer, Sean Rafferty, and Shalom Suniula are returning from Premiership Rugby’s second annual World Club 7s at Twickenham Stadium, where Seattle won the Shield. New York City 7s finished seventh.

Brown’s Falcons team in Glendale was made up of residency players and athletes on the cusp of reaching the IRB circuit, where the Eagles will attempt to qualify for the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games this season. While players from the Falcons, Hawks, MCAAs, and other teams at RugbyTown Sevens caught the eyes of the world, Brown said it is the team player that is invaluable.

“Often in these kinds of tournaments you’ll see individual players doing something individually brilliant,” he said,” but I’m looking for that player who links well, makes the right decision, stays in the correct position on defense, makes his tackles; the glue to the team. If he’s a standout, great, but what holds your team together are those guys that understand the game and do the right things at the right time.”

The 2014-15 IRB HSBC Sevens World Series begins Oct. 11-12 in Australia, where the Eagles have reached the Shield Final the past two years. The Eagles have predominantly finished the Series better than they have started, but, with a new coaching staff and competition for spots in the travel squad, a sense of optimism has grown in camp.

“I’m sure we’ll have some ups and downs, and you’ll see some quality performances on the circuit, and we’ll have some rough ones,” Brown said. “If you’re doing your role right, you’re going to nullify what the opposition is doing. You have to have the belief of, ‘I’ve done all this hard work – playing this tournament’s easy. I know I can go longer.’ That’s what we’re working towards.”

The coaching staff will hold one more High Performance Sevens camp in September for selections to the Gold Coast Sevens travel squad.

Men's Eagles High Performance Sevens camp

First NameLast NameSchool/ClubHeightWeight (lbs.)
PerryBakerMen's Eagles Sevens6'1"180
DannyBarrettMen's Eagles Sevens6'3"220
GarrettBenderMen's Eagles Sevens6'4"220
PatBlairSeattle Saracens6'1"220
MilesCraigwellSeattle Saracens6'2"215
JohnCullenSeattle Saracens6'5"250
AndrewDurutaloMen's Eagles Sevens6'2"245
NickEdwardsMen's Eagles Sevens6'2"220
TaiEnosaMen's Eagles Sevens5'9"190
MadisonHughesDartmouth College5'8"170
CarlinIslesMen's Eagles Sevens5'8"165
DerekLipscombOld Blue of New York6'2"225
ValaneseMalifaMen's Eagles Sevens5'10"190
RoccoMauerSeattle Saracens6'1"197
FolauNiuaAt Large6'1"197
BenPinkelmanDenver Barbarians/Colorado State University6'4"205
SeanRaffertyLong Island6'1"225
AladdinSchirmerCentral Washington University6'2"220
ShalomSuniulaSeattle Saracens5'8"193
PilaTaufaMen's Eagles Sevens6'3"205
MikeTe'oMen's Eagles Sevens5'8"205
ZackTestMen's Eagles Sevens6'3"195
PeterTiberioSeattle Saracens6'2"185
StephenTomasinMen's Eagles Sevens5'10"200
ChrisTuroriMen's Eagles Sevens6'4"225
MakaUnufeMen's Eagles Sevens6'2"200
MichaelZieglerMen's Eagles Sevens6'4"230

Unavailable for camp:
Colin Hawley (Olympic Club)
Kingsley McGowan (Saint Mary's College)
Mike Palefau (Seattle Saracens)
Kevin Swiryn (Seattle Saracens)

Coaching staff:
Mike Friday - Head Coach
Chris Brown - Assistant Coach
Paul Goulding - Analyst
Brian Finn - ATC
Yvonne Parkhurst - High Performance Services Manager
Tristan Lewis - Men's Eagles Manager
Nick Tricarico - Assistant Manager
Mike Tolkin - Men's Eagles Head Coach
Billy Millard - AIG Men's Junior All-Americans Head Coach
Chris O'Brien - Kicking Coach
Alex Magleby - Men's Sevens Director