Left to Right: Mishal Okuoi, Marcus Respes, Michael "Moose" Anderson, Bjorn “Swede” Haglid, Keith McClean , Tim Lowe, Steve Siano, Chris Harvey, Vince Granger, Pete Hesler, William "Biddy" Boyle and Emil "Mr. Atlantis" Signes.
The Mid-Atlantic All-Star program open tryout and combine, attended by USA 7s coach Al Caravelli, was a big success, with over 70 athletes and 12 other volunteer coaches attending on Sunday.
Caravelli said he saw several impressive athletes and several surprises. Among the big surprises was the level of athleticism of the youngest trialists. With the exception of Tim Acker of Kutztown University, and Wilmington club player Martwain Johnson, all the fastest players were under 18.
The two fastest were Peter Ondi, a four-sport athlete (no rugby) who just turned 17, and the other fastest player is also a high-schooler who just took up rugby.
Also a surprise, was the fitness levels. While the youngsters were the fastest, it was a 27-year-old from the Pittsburgh Harlequins, Nick Koon, who had the most impressive score in the yo-yo fitness test. Koon is also relatively new to rugby.
Caravelli said he will forward names to All American coach Alex Magleby, USA U20 coach Scott Lawrence, and High School All Americans coach Salty Thompson.
"I think we are developing a pathway, which will help us identify these athletes," said Caravelli.
More combines/tryouts are on the schedule. The South combine will be held Wednesday and Thursday, July 29 and 30, in Cape Fear, NC leading into the Cape Fear 7s.
The Northeast will host a tryout the weekend of July 23 around the Hellgate 7s hosted by the Village Lions.
The Pacific Coast RFU will host a tryout around the Pacific Coast Championships in Salt Lake City July 16.
The Southern California union will host a tryout the week after the national club championships on the weekend of August 13.
The Midwest combine was already held, but wasn't as well-attended as the MARFU event.
"The coaches have been great," said Caravelli. "Coaches such as Sean Horan, Chris Harvey, Julie McCoy, and John Tyler have been very supportive of what we're trying to do. I am in contact with people in Southern California and the West, where they haven't named all-star coaches yet."
This, said Caravelli, is the beginning of a clarified pathway to the 7s team: open tryouts at the territorial level, which lead to all-star teams, or recommendation to age-grade teams, and then a days-long tryout and tournament in Chula Vista in August.
"This," said Caravelli, "is how you get in consideration for the Pan-Am Games."
Players have been told, that to be considered for the Pan-Am Games, they must play at the NASC, or if they are not able it is because they are a) on the World Cup squad or b) injured.