CPC Featured Player: Jazmyne Spear

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Full Name: Jazmyne Spear

Hometown: Indianapolis, IN

Position(s) played: Flanker, 8 man, Center, Wing

All Blues since: Sept 2018

When and how did you first start playing rugby? What got you into it?

Jaz: I started rugby in 11th grade because I did cheer all my life and wanted to prove that cheerleading is a sport and that I’m an athlete.

Do you have a philosophy/mindset when you practice and play rugby?

Jaz: My grandma was my #1 rugby supporter so I just think about making her proud every time I touch the pitch.

How did you first find out about the All Blues?

Jaz: I searched WPL teams and found that the All Blues practiced not too far from my company’s California site.

How long have you played for us?

Jaz: Two months

What is one of your best memories thus far as an All Blue? What do you like most about being on this team?

Jaz: My first away game in Denver because it was surreal watching WPL players in action in a huge stadium. I couldn’t believe I was a part of such a high level team. My favorite thing about this team is how helpful everyone is at practice and the mix of backgrounds. I have current and former Eagles helping me improve my skills… I couldn’t ask for anything else!

Is there a particular player and/or coach that has influenced your development as a player?

Jaz: Evan Hoese. She’s the first person I met on the team and the person I kept in contact with during my move to California. Aside from just being helpful, she inspires me to dominate on the field because when she steps on the pitch everyone knows it.

What is the best advice you have ever received about playing rugby?

Jaz: Trust your skill!

What skills are you working on/would like to work on right now?

Jaz: Quick defensive set up, Line speed, Ball Handling

How do you balance life, work, and playing rugby?

Jaz: I’m a full time senior surgical technician in research, part time veterinary assistant and I’m finishing an online MBA in healthcare administration. I balance it by talking to my cat, Bucket. He tells me to take a break and destress by playing with him and I do it and it works!

Who’s your favorite rugby player/team to watch? Why?

Jaz: Naya Tapper. She’s unstoppable and such a strong player every game.

What is your favorite non-rugby activity?

Jaz: CrossFit and knitting

If you were an ice cream flavor, which one would you be?

Jaz: Rocky Road

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Jaz: I’m just happy to be an All Blue!

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Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with Positive Tackles

Evan Hoese is an incredibly striking person, quite literally. When she tackles, she aims low and powers her legs through, driving her opponent into the rugby pitch- even faster than she drives her Subaru. The experience of sitting in the passenger seat of an Evan-driven car strikes the same mixture of gut-wrenching fear and awe of speed that occurs when matched opposite of her on the field.  

Even though she only started playing rugby in the spring of her freshman year at Harvard, Evan practiced running hard lines in the backyard with her father throughout her childhood. Her calm command was evident from her college days, as she captained her Radcliffe team to win a collegiate DII National Championship where she was named MVP. According to Shelby Lin, a teammate from Radcliffe Rugby, “Evan is a natural leader. She plays with a ton of confidence and is someone you want to give your all for, because you know she’s always going to leave everything she has on the field.” Upon graduating with a degree in Social and Cognitive Neuroscience, Evan didn’t stray far from her illustrious alma mater, and brought her rugby prowess to Beantown.

Prior to the 2014 World Cup, Evan was asked to attend the Top 50 US Camp, where disaster struck. While competing for a cap, Evan sustained a cartilage knee injury that would set her National Team vision back four years.

This injury did not keep Hoese away from rugby; in fact, she continued to hone her vision and skills as she developed new players such as Cathy Cai (attended Top 50 7s camp) and Courtney Hendrickson (Attended Top 100 15s Camp). Evan lent her wide knowledge to the next generation of rugby as she coached Berkeley All Blues D2 in 2017 and 2018, as well as acted as Assistant Coach to the Berkeley All Blues WPL side in 2017.

Striding on to Soldier Field this past November 3rd for the game against the New Zealand Black Ferns, Evan earned her first national team cap. Hard work, persistence and passion brought her to this moment where she could fly like an Eagle.  

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CPC Featured Player: Tonya Wessman

 Tonya Hanging out

Tonya Hanging out

Full Name: Tonya Wessman

Hometown: Brentwood, CA

Position(s) played: Flanker, Hooker, Outside Center

All Blues since: 2018

When and how did you first start playing rugby?  What got you into it?

Tonya: I was introduced to rugby in 2015, my Junior year at UC Davis (GO AGS). I transferred into Davis knowing I wanted play a sport, because club basketball was not offered at the time, rugby was the first sport I wanted to check out. Though I had never played before, my family and friends insisted it was something I would love. I got a flyer, went to the first practice, and I haven’t stopped playing since.

Did you play any sports prior to rugby?

Tonya: Basketball, Water-polo, Muay Thai, and Rock Climbing

Do you have a philosophy/mindset when you practice and play rugby?

Tonya: I try to play with intensity and intention, my goal is to always play the hardest I can and to make every decision with confidence.

How did you first find out about the All Blues?

Tonya: I heard about the All Blues the same year I started playing. After the 2015-2016 D1 Championship game at Saint Mary’s, the Davis team was approached by a couple All Blues who were watching in the stands. That’s when I learned about the WPL and playing opportunities after college.

How long have you played for us?

Tonya: This is my Rookie year!

What is one of your best memories thus far as an All Blue?  

Tonya: The best memory I have so far is seeing my name rostered at #7 in our first game of the season. I looked at that email all day because I couldn’t believe it, I’ll never forget how awesome that felt. My favorite thing about the All Blues is how supportive everyone is, we all try to lift eachother up. The All Blue team culture is definitely something special .

Are there particular player(s) and/or coach(es) that have influenced your development as a player?  

Tonya: Richie McCaw, Portia Woodman, and my UCD homie Sydnee Watanabe are some of my biggest inspirations to watch as a player. Their tackles are  poetry in motion and every time they step on the pitch they’re playing with maximum intensity and doing something amazing. However, I’d have to say the biggest influence I’ve had is from my Forwards Coach at UCD, Gary Gordon. Gary has always encouraged me to test my own limits and play the highest level of rugby there is. Gary continues to encourage me long after I’ve graduated from Davis.

What is the best advice you have ever received about rugby?

Tonya: The greatest advice I’ve ever received is to do everything with intention. Whether it’s a pass, a tackle, or a penalty, there is no time so second guess yourself, the worst decision to make is no decision  at all.

What skills are you working on/would like to work on right now?

Tonya: I’m constantly working on my field vision, it’s a work in progress but there has definitely been improvement.

Who’s your favorite rugby player/team to watch?

Tonya: The USA Women and the Black Ferns, gotta’ root for the home team and the team the got me into rugby. But come November 3rd, I’m 1000% for the Eagles!

What is your favorite non-rugby activity?

Tonya: Backpacking, camping, and rock climbing.

If you were an ice cream flavor, which one would you be?

Tonya: Rocky Road

Most memorable thing for which you’ve gone to Kangaroo Court for?

Tonya: My last team, the Sacramento Amazons, fined me for taking our  touch games too seriously... They were right ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?  

Tonya: I’m currently planning to climb “The Nose” at Yosemite within the next year or two. It’s a 3000 feet climb and a life long goal of mine. It’s gonna’ be awesome.


 Everyone on the All Blues loves Tonya

Everyone on the All Blues loves Tonya

CPC Featured Player: Shelby Lin

Full Name: Shelby Lin

Hometown: East Setauket, NY

Position played: Scrumhalf

All Blues since: Fall 2018

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When and how did you first start playing rugby?  What got you into it?

Shelby: Freshman year at Harvard. I played soccer in high school and when I decided not to play for a varsity college program, I knew I needed something highly competitive and intense. At the activities fair I went straight to the rugby booth.

Do you have a philosophy/mindset when you practice and play rugby?  

Shelby: I am always trying to create good, fast, free-flowing rugby - for myself and everyone I’m playing with and against.

How did you first find out about the All Blues?  

Shelby: I moved out from NYC, and knew I wanted to play in the WPL. My first WPL nationals in 2015, I remember watching an amazing game between the All Blues and Glendale, I believe. This is my first real season as an All Blue!


What is one of your best memories thus far as an All Blue?

Shelby: Our first WPL game this season was a ton of fun; it was amazing to experience the gritty, no-holds-barred playing style of this team. I like the team’s truly welcoming atmosphere and the energy and positivity we have.


Is there a particular player and/or coach that has influenced your development as a player? Shelby: I’ve had amazing luck with coaches throughout my career. Bryan Hamlin, former Providence head coach and NRU23s coach, was head of Radcliffe Rugby when it was a club team at Harvard my first few years, and let me talk my way into moving from the back 3 to flyhalf. Sue Parker coached Harvard in its first varsity year when I was a senior and encouraged me to make the move to scrumhalf if I wanted to play at a higher level. James English taught me how to really play the position from a tactical perspective and continues to mentor me to this day. Tiff Faaee modeled great leadership while captaining NYRC last year on our championship run.

What is the best advice you have ever received about playing rugby?

Shelby: Focus on developing your strengths (good advice for life, too). I think players can get really down on their weaknesses and spend a lot of energy addressing them, but when you think about great players they’re known for their particular strengths and skill sets, not for bringing their weaknesses up to mediocrity.


Who’s your favorite rugby player/team to watch?

Shelby: Kendra Cocksedge, the Black Ferns scrumhalf, can single-handedly shape and direct a game like no other. I try and learn from Aaron Smith’s style of play. Faf de Klerk is always fun to watch since he is completely fearless on defense.


What is your favorite non-rugby activity?

Shelby: Sleep, closely followed by eating.

If you were an ice cream flavor, which one would you be?

Shelby: Garden Creamery’s non-dairy mango sticky rice flavor

Most memorable thing for which you’ve gone to Kangaroo Court for?

Shelby: Booking a “roach palace” motel in Atlanta for the team. It was as bad as it sounds.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Shelby: I’m a cat-lady.

 Shelby’s Mittens

Shelby’s Mittens

CPC Featured Player: Elena "DC" Clark

Full Name (plus any rugby nickname(s)): Elena Clark a.k.a. DC

Hometown: Sunnyvale, CA

Position(s) played: In life: scrumhalf and center; for the All Blues: center

All Blues since: 2017

DC kicking for a conversion in the most recent D2 season vs. the Sacramento Amazons. Photo: Dasha Rychkova

All Blues: When and how did you first start playing rugby?  What got you into it?

DC: I showed up to college planning to join the sailing team, of all things. However, When I couldn’t decide between the two, my sister asked, “Well, who would you rather spend the next four years with? Sailors or ruggers?” That made the choice easy.

 

Did you play any sports prior to rugby?

DC: I ran the gambit as a kid, but by the time I was in high school, I was a competitive saber fencer. I even went to the Junior Olympics a few times. It was a great excuse to travel the country when I was supposed to be in school.

 DC fenced saber competitively in high school. Photo: Elena Clark

DC fenced saber competitively in high school. Photo: Elena Clark

Is there a particular player and/or coach that has influenced your development as a player?  In what way(s) did they help you?

DC: I’ve been super lucky to have lots of great coaches, so it’s hard to pick just one. When I played for the DC Furies 7s team, we made it to Nationals while I was still in college and definitely not on the same level as many of my teammates. However, the coach saw potential in me, so put me on the roster anyways. I got invaluable, high-level experience, and gained a lot of confidence in myself. I don’t think I’d be the same player today without that opportunity.

 

How did you first find out about the All Blues? What made you come out here and join us?

DC: The All Blues are legendary. I knew about them when I started playing on the East Coast, I continued to hear about them while playing in Arizona, and was thrilled when I moved close enough to be able to play with them.

DC on a breakaway for the Arizona Tempe Ninjas in a spring 2017 tournament. Photo courtesy of Elena Clark

Do you have a philosophy/mindset when you practice and play rugby?  Thinking about a game you thought went really well for you, how did you get your mind and body ready for that match?

DC: Being in the right mindset is so important, and surprisingly difficult. Before a game, I used to just stay loose and joke around with my teammates, so I went into the game having fun. However, recently I’ve had to change that strategy to be a bit more focused. I spent all of last D2 season working to come up with the right strategy. Now I like to listen to my own music, visualize what I’m going to do, and decide on one or two personal goals for the game. Then, once I’m on the pitch, if I ever start to get unfocused or lazy, I just remind myself that if my teammates can keep going, so can I.

Lisa Kelly and DC posing with the 40s they won (and had to chug) for being nominated as Men of the Match during a game in the most recent D2 season. Photo: Maria Kelly

What has been your most memorable time with the All Blues?

DC: On the pitch, my favorite game was the D2 finals against SFGG. What we had been working on all season finally clicked into place, and we flowed really well. It was a very gratifying experience. Off the pitch, it’s hard to pick a single experience. Every time we travel, I get to bond with different teammates and always feel a bit more part of the team. It’s a really great culture that the All Blues have created.

 

What is the best advice you have ever received about playing rugby?

DC: It’s a bit of a rugby cliché at this point, but the best thing I’ve been told by a coach is that the only wrong choice is no choice, and any choice you make is the right one. When I first started playing, I was very timid, and would sometimes freeze up if I wasn’t sure what the best option was. That advice really helped me to make decisions and stick with them in games.

DC getting low to go into contact, with teammate Bean in support during the most recent D2 season game vs. Life West Gladiatrix. 

What skills are you working on/would like to work on right now?

DC: There are always a million and one things to work on, and often my problem is choosing just one or two to focus on. Right now, I’m working on my offloads – both receiving and giving, as well as my drop kicks, and overall communication on the pitch.

 

What is your favorite non-rugby activity? Do you have any other passions besides rugby?

DC: Does drinking coffee count? I really put my heart and soul into it, every day. Besides that, I love being outdoors. Camping, hiking, biking – you name it, I’m in.