Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015: Off to Dubai

(Flying Emirates Business class is like nothing else!)

In all honesty, to my surprise, I was named to the squad that will participate in Dubai and South Africa to start off the World Series. 

Surprised becuase there are some really quality players on the squad and I wasn't sure how the coaches would do selections: reward the players that have been training together for a long time or give an opportunity to a player new to their system, that has a strong potential to get better. I'm not saying I didn't think I deserved it, I obviously did enough to earn that spot. My enthusiasm grows each day because I know the longer I'm with this group training, the better I'll become. 

So that's that, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I'm on my way to Dubai, thinking of everyone enjoying good food and good company.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Anyone that has ever tried out for anything, sport or otherwise, knows that the feeling of "anticipation" the day before the team is announced can be almost unbearable. 

As I'm laying in bed thinking about my performance this week, there's been massive growth. Sure I have thoughts of, "where I could've been better" and the, "where I did pretty well," which all get replayed in my head; but what I know is this has been so massively rewarding to be a part of. I love the dog-fight nature this requires of us. Passion, HA! It's almost like that's an understatement if you use that word as a requirement to play this game. It's more like an ideology is being required. 

Nonetheless, it's pure beauty to be involved again and I can have no more influence on whether I'm named on the team or not...So I'll lay my head down, rest, and enjoy the anticipation. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Camp is well underway

Here with my Seattle/Atavus teammate and good friend, Pete Tiberio, as we challenge for a place with the US team during the first two tournaments of the year (Dubai and South Africa). 

We're two days into it and it's been a very good camp so far. Wow, these three-a-days are no joke! The legs were a bit heavy during our last session today and tomorrow is nothing short of an absolute grind. We a "yakayard" tomorrow morning, which has become infamous for the hardest hour of fitness you'll ever do. Followed by a late morning field session and finally scrimmages for the first time this camp. They're here to challenge us mentally and physically and succeeding quite well if I might say. 

But nonetheless, I'm sooooo excited to be part of this system, with these coaches and these players.

The next few days will be a telltale sign of what's to come, definitely eager, a tad bit nervous, and definitely ready for it!

Ciao for now. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

My Inspiration...#WWSD

I posted on FB on 11/1 about growing a Mo for Movember and wanting to raise money for a foundation that has helped many through a challenging fight against Sarcoma cancer, like my friend Sig. 

I want to do more than a simple post so here is my plan and I hope you'll be involved. I made wristbands to show my support of him, as well as a reminder to myself during any difficult times - whether in my pursuit for the Olympics or in life itself, it reminds me that although things are tough, it's all relative.

So can we raise some money!? I will personally send a wristband to the first 50 people who donate $50 or more to (just private message me once you've donated). Also, I'm not just all talk and will be donating a fair bit of dough myself.

Why is he my inspiration?

Throughout the past 22 months he competed in an Ironman, Lavaman (Olympic distance triathlon), and sprint triathlon. He regularly participates in touch rugby and goes to the gym, sometimes two days after chemo treatments! He hasn't let this cancer stop him from doing what he loves. He doesn't let any challenges prevent him from competing or just simply living. 

This has been his journey:

-December of 2103 he was training for an Ironman, and found out he had cancer. 
-Jan - April 2014 underwent first round of chemo. 
-In April 2014, STILL COMPETED IN IRONMAN (even though the chemo caused neuropathy in his hands and feet and lost 50% use of his hands)
-May 2014 radiation began 
-June - Dec 2014 further chemo and radiation because first round was ineffective 
-Jan 2015, cancer is gone in treated area, but three new tumors arise
-March - August 2015 another round of chemo, every three weeks
-Sept -Nov. Radiation
-Nov 2015 three tumors are gone, but one new tumor arises. 
-Has just began 3rd round of radiation as he fights off the new tumor in hopes to avoid more chemo. 

Here are the stats:
-65 radiation treatments
-55 separate chemo days
-20 hyperbolic treatments
-2 blood transfusions 
-3 triathlons completed

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Sunshine state

Florida is hot!!! Fitness has been tested playing in this heat. 

Our Falcon team went 2-1, beating Denver, Utah, and then going down to Argentina National team 21-14. 

Overall it was a good day. The team has only been together for 7 days training and we came together quite well. We just played poorly for 9 minutes, and then did well to fight back in the last 5. Credit to Argentina of course, but we were the cause of our demise in that match. 

A huge semifinal against Canada, a team I've always enjoyed playing against. You can watch at 2pm EST on

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Developmental Tournament Is Here: St. Petersburg, FL

It's been a rewarding week of training. I've been with a great group of younger rugby players, roughly averaging 22 years in age. Their youth and my experience will be competing together this weekend (they've dubbed me "Uncle Kev")!

We go together into the tournament with lots of challenges: never having played together, playing a new system, learning new tackle/ruck/passing techniques, to name a few. But each of my teammates (myself included I hope) have shown growth since the beginning of camp. There will be a lot to manage this weekend on and off the field, but wow am I looking forward to it!

Read more here:

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Full Circle

I'm going through my mental prep, as I typically do before big competitions or camps such as this, and I'm thinking about all the advice, experiences, etc. shared with me by teammates and friends who have been to a Mike Friday camp. The commonality said by everyone is basically as follows: "it's hard and they're gonna try and break you mentally and physically."

It's interesting because it wasn't until this moment, as I was circling my mind to find that place where I've been through something similar, that I remembered the hellish week of my first rugby trainings at Saint Mary's in 2004. 

Historically Coach Tim O'Brien holds a "winter camp" and it's meant to fit a lot of rugby, fitness and camaraderie-building in a short amount of time. It just so happens that my first week was the start of this camp; and even more so, it was the one year he decided to bring in a Navy Seal to run us through an amazingly challenging mental and physical grind 

We'd start at 5:30am with a nice winter warmup, crawling on the wet, muddy grass for a few hundred meters; Get into teams of four or five and run for hour(s) with heavy logs on our shoulders, up in the hills of Moraga; Carry 25lbs weights under water in the pool, in a relay fashion; run 2 miles with a 15 lbs med-ball...then turn around and do it again (mind you I had just come from football training and don't think I'd ran 2 miles straight since my elementary school's jog-a-thon). All this while a crazy man would scream obscenities (that were quite humorous for me, at the time). 

In any case, here I am reminiscing on this challenging, yet rewarding experience, and realize where I am today. Realizing what challenges are ahead. Realizing the mental anguish that will occur. Realizing the physical toll this will take. But more importantly, realizing how rewarding I know it will become and how much these  challenges will groom me even further. 

Am I worried about tomorrow? No I'm not. I'm excited! The unknown is uplifting and rewarding. If I knew what tomorrow would bring, I'd be bored by the time I got there. I'm ready to challenge myself again, to prove myself again...just like I did 11 years ago when it all started at SMC. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

And so it Begins...

Follow my story as I embark on the unlikely comeback and pursuit of the Olympic Dream! Retired in 2012 from international rugby, broken both physically and mentally, it's been a 3 year process of rebuilding my mind, body and soul. 

Currently I'm having the most fun I've ever had playing rugby and while I'm still working on getting to the best physical shape of my life, this blog will follow my journey through moments of pain, suffering, jubilation, fun, excitement, commitment, and accomplishment.

There's no better way to summarize this process than with the quote, "Success is often the result of taking a misstep in the right direction." - Al Bernstein

My life over the past 3 years, let alone the past 12 months, was somehow leading me down a path I would've never guessed. Everything that has happened: the creation of resiliency, the reinvigorated passion and love for the game, the humbling attribute of humility, becoming innately self-aware, leadership and attention to detail, the exponential gain in rugby IQ, the reality that life (or rugby) can be more than just about winning, but your competitive edge doesn't have to drop off a single iota; all this has been highlighted and enhanced for me over the past 40 months.

My training started in late August and it has been the hardest work I've ever put in to date...which is exactly how it should be. The goals are different this time around and so is my mentality. When I was captain of the US 7's team in 2010, I knew what my athletic ability was, and that's what gave me the confidence to play well. Now I know what my rugby ability is, and that creates something far greater!

Staying healthy is the biggest concern in a sport like ours and what I'm doing now that I never did before is body management. This entails: two Chiropractor and Physical therapy sessions per week, one acupuncture and massage per week, and stretching every day. All of that added to a training routine of 4 fitness, 3 weights, 3 skills, 2 speed, and at least 1 Pilates or yoga sessions per week, makes for busy, busy days. 

I'll still be working at my amazingly supportive job, USI/Kibble&Prentice, in the commercial Insurance industry. This is made possible by a second to none management team and support staff. My colleagues have rallied around me and will take on extra loads while I travel for camps and possible tours; I can't thank them enough for their support, they're incredible!

The next hardest thing about all this is stepping back considerably in my role with the UW Rugby club. Beginning my fourth season, and what looks to be the most successful yet, means I'll miss far more than I want to. But thank you to the coaches and players for understanding. Thank you to those who have stepped in and stepped up to fill the void. Mike Alfstad will be the head coach and with Shawn Pittman and Ian Franks stepping into Assistant Coach roles, the club will hardly miss me because of their great leadership. And Even more so, thanks to Brian Schoener for being the catalyst that got me involved with this club to begin with. The nice thing is I will train and play with the team twice a week so we can enjoy this process together.

Here we go!