Familiar faces return to Olympic Training Center

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - An updated roster of Women's Eagles Sevens resident athletes at the United States Olympic Committee's Olympic Training Center has been announced.

Head Coach Richie Walker and the Eagles are 95 days from the commencement of Rugby Sevens' debut competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games, and have one HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series leg remaining on the 2015-16 calendar.

The group of 20 includes veterans Bui Baravilala and Kelly Griffin, who were members of the inaugural program at the OTC in 2012, as well as 17-year-old Lilly Durbin. The Fallbrook High School standout is the only athlete in the program without a Series cap, but has played internationally with the USA Rugby Girls High School All-Americans powered by ATAVUS and the AIG Women's Junior All-Americans. Until she finishes her junior year this month, Durbin will alternate weeks in Chula Vista and Fallbrook.

Returning to the program is Kathryn Johnson, who holds nine Series caps to her name as well as a bronze medal from Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 and silver medal from the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games. Between stints at the OTC, Johnson has continued to train for the Olympics and played under Walker with ATAVUS' all-star team at the Las Vegas Invitational tournament in March.

"Having her back - you can really see the rugby knowledge that she has," Walker said of 'KJ.' "I feel that she's going to increase the level here; she's already showing that she's been training hard not being here."

Other veterans, such as Lauren Doyle, Victoria Folayan, and Jillion Potter, have come out on top of health concerns and injuries in the past 24 months to be part of the 20-player residency.

"I'm excited and I hope they are, too," Walker said of his residency group. "Today is their first day where it's just them.

"The others are still in the player pool and they may be called upon if something happens."

The Eagles performed well at HSBC Atlanta 7s - their home tournament on the circuit - winning the Plate, before reaching the seventh-place playoff the following weekend in Canada. Currently two points out of sixth place in the Series standings, Walker's team is building towards Aug. 6, when the Rugby Sevens event kicks off at Deodoro Stadium.

"To get to this point I actually had to give players a chance to prove themselves for whether they stay or not," the head coach said. "We didn't do too well in Canada, but we knew we weren't because we were going in as individuals to see if they could apply what they've learned and what they know to the Series environment, and also those players coming back from injury."

The final leg round of the Series will be held in Clermont-Ferrand, France, May 28-29. The pool draw and fixture list will be announced by World Rugby.

Women's Eagles Sevens | Residency Program at Olympic Training Center

Bui Baravilala

Meya Bizer

Megan Bonny

Ryan Carlyle

Lauren Doyle

Lilly Durbin

Cheta Emba

Joanne Fa'avesi

Carmen Farmer

Victoria Folayan

Kelly Griffin

Nicole Heavirland

Jessica Javelet

Kathryn Johnson

Alev Kelter

Hannah Lopez

Jane Paar

Jillion Potter

Richelle Stephens

Kristen Thomas