Chicago sports are always filled with excitement and energy. Our professional teams are top notch, but so are our high school teams. This year USA Rugby has selected three from our fine city to be a part of the All American High School team. Brock Johnson who is a junior at Willowbrook High School and plays with the Renegades HS Rugby Club, Sondai Adjei who atttends St. Rita High School and also Malcolm May who is at St. Ignatius have all been given this honor to tour with the USA. These young men have a long future of rugby a head of them and I was able to take some time to hear from bout Brock and Sondai and get to know more about them and who brings them to and excited them about this sport.
Brock Johnson is just 16 years old, and while many All American High School athletes have been playing their sports sicne they were toddlers, Johnson started playing rugby just three years ago. He says,
...it all started off with an e mail from my uncle that he forwarded on from one of his employees who coached a local rugby team [the Renegades] I tried out for that team and was hooked for life.
Though his life is just begining and he has many decades of his rugby life ahead of his, he has already dedicated a lot of time to the game. He trains with his father who is a certified trainer. Beside the USA Rugby work outs that are sent to athletes, Brock and hs father do a combination of circuit training and powerlifting to optimize strength and speed. He also runs for fitness 3 times a week to stay in top form and when workign with the rugby ball, he works on kicking and passing mostly when I train with the ball. Brock is a part oft he back line and will be proudly wearing number 14 with the USA Squad.
So how does someone so young and with so few years of playing get selected for the AAHS team? Brock Johnson has been a part of the Illinois Select Side team, the Tornadoes. He was nominated by Nolan Day, who is the coach of the Tornadoes and was a part of the team that toured this year on their trip to the UK. His next big tour is just weeks away as the team gets ready to go over seas. Their first competitions will take place in London, England from March 23 to April 6th. They will be playing Wales, England and Belgium. If things go well, their second set of games will be in July in South America. How he feels about the up coming games,
This tour I'm most looking forward to being able to test my skills against the best competition in the world. I'm also looking forward to getting my own dorm room:) I'm not too nervous more exited than anything.
As a Junior Brock has some time to think about where he will be going to college and what plans lay ahead for him. He says,
As for college, I am not sure what I want to do. I think I may stay in the city for school and play with the Chicago griffins as I play with them in the fall. As for playing goals I wish to continue to progress, my main goal playing for the USA mens team.
I always like to know what pumps people up before a game. Johnson likes to listen to reggae music, mostly bob marley. He says that it may seem odd but, he likes to play the game cool and relaxed so he doens't too crazy with hard rock/rap music before games. He is also happy to have Malcolm May on the same team with as him and touring sicne teammates the the comraidary of the sport has meant a lot to him.
...it will be great since we've played together before and I will always have someone I know on the team. My teams back home have always given me their full support and have lent their time and efforts to aid in my journey with the USA team. My absolute favorite thing about rugby is that it is the absolute true team sport. No one man can do anything without the entire team working in full harmony like a well oiled machine. The rugby team is a brotherhood, each man is responsible for their duties on and off the field. We pick each other up and push one another to be the best we can be. That is what I love about rugby.