College to Olympics – The Journey of U.S Collegiate Rugby Players

It has always been widely recognized that the U.S Collegiate sport system produces outstanding athletes year on year. You only have to look at the NBA, NFL, MLS and MLB to find it littered with thousands of former college stars over the years.

At a more global level the American university system still dominates in terms of production of world class athletes. With the Tokyo Olympics soon to get underway it was a chance to look at some of the numbers and where some of these athletes have studied before becoming professional and representing the stars and stripes.

Harvard can boast 9 former students competing at this years Olympics, which is the most from any of the IVY league institutions. The University of California Berkeley this year have 55 former student athletes heading to Tokyo. The most impressive however, is the University of Southern California. Not only can they claim 309 Olympic medals to date but they also have 63 former student athletes now taking part in this year’s competition. More than any other American university and more than some small nations. 

This got us thinking, with rugby 7s now an Olympic sport we were interested to see who and how many U.S Olympians have come through the college route and how much that opportunity is open to future collegiate rugby players. We were not surprised to see plenty of college representation from both the Men’s and Woman’s Eagle squads.

USA Women’s Eagles

Kaylan Carnet – Penn State University

Lauren Doyle – Eastern Illinois University

Cheta Emba – Harvard University

Abby Gustaitis – University of Maryland

Nicole Heavirland – Army West Point

Leyla Kelter – University of Wisconsin – Madison (Soccer)

Kristin Thomas (Captain) – University of Central Florida

Kristi Kirshe – Williams College (Soccer)

Ilona Maher – Quinnipiac University

Jordan Matyes – Brigham Young University

Ariana Ramsey – Dartmouth College

Naya Tapper – University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

USA Men’s Eagles

Madison Hughes – Dartmouth College

Danny Barrett – University of California Berkeley

Martin Ioseyo – University of Montana

Ben Pinkelman – Colorado State University

Maceo Brown – Grand Canyon University

Carlin Isles – Ashland University (Football)

Perry Baker (Fairmont State (Football)

Joe Schroeder – Trine University (Football/Basketball)

Stephen Tomasin – San Diego State University

Kevon Williams – New Mexico Highlands

With so many universities represented it is clear to see the progress made in the college game over the past decade. Additionally, with many of the male players taking the opportunity to play Major League Rugby it will undoubtedly help them step up to the international platform and perform at their best.

We are excited to watch this year’s Olympic 7s and wish the Eagles men and women all the best in the weeks ahead.

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