Meet Olympic Hopeful Jessica Javelet

Jessica Javelet's story is not an uncommon one in the rugby community. Javelet - better known as JJ - is a crossover athlete who excelled at field hockey early in her athletic career. A three-time All-American from the University of Louisville, JJ eventually joined the USA National Field Hockey team and went on to play professionally in Germany. But after ending her career in Germany and returning to the United States, JJ was missing the competitive outlet field hockey had given her. She found herself wondering what to do next, playing in recreational adult leagues and finding that it did not satisfy her drive to compete. Fortunately, a friend tipped JJ off to the Women's Football Association (WFA), where she ended up playing football for four years.

As JJ was making her mark on the football world, she was unaware that USA Eagle and fellow WFA player Liz Sowers had taken notice. In 2013, the Women's Eagles Sevens were actively seeking crossover athletes who could transition their athletic skills to rugby, and Sowers suggested recruiting JJ. "I think I had juked her out in a WFA game, and she remembered that," JJ recalls. "I got a call from Liz, and she asked me if I had ever considered playing rugby. I had no idea who she was at the time." JJ initially rejected the offer due to other obligations, but after some convincing, she found herself on a plane to Chula Vista three weeks later to try her hand at a sport she had never considered playing before.

Though the crossover athlete trope is a tale as old as time for rugby in the United States, JJ has formed a unique connection with the sport because it has given her a second chance at realizing her Olympic dream. Growing up, JJ knew she wanted to represent the United States at the Olympic Games, but she had always assumed it would be in field hockey. Now, she recognizes that rugby could be her second chance at the Olympic medal she has always wanted. However, this dream cannot be actualized without committing herself to the hard work rugby demands. "[Training] is a full time job. I usually get to the training center around 6:45am and am lucky if I can leave by 5:45 in the evening. It can be extremely taxing, but we all have a dream in mind and we're working toward it," says JJ.

Despite the intense training, JJ understands that she is lucky to have the opportunity to represent her country on the international level, and this is especially true when looking ahead to Rio. "I've been very fortunate. I've gotten to go on numerous tours to represent the United States internationally in rugby, and to have the chance to go onto the biggest stage there is to represent my country is a lifelong dream come true," says JJ. "And it's not just about going to the Olympics. It's about getting out there and performing and making everyone proud. It's about showing the world we're a force to be reckoned with. We want to show the world what we can do."

JJ also understands the impact that donors have on the team's success, and on the growth and development of the sport at all levels. "We're very grateful to the donors who support us. We don't have the biggest budget, and it's important to have funds to be able to compete with with the top countries in the world. It's so important to have supporters on our side," she says.

We’re very grateful to the donors who support us. We don’t have the biggest budget, and it’s important to have funds to be able to compete with with the top countries in the world. It’s so important to have supporters on our side.
Jessica Javelet