Alumna Interview: Victoria "Vix" Folayan

Name: Victoria "Vix" Folayan

Hometown: Boston, MA and Oakland, CA

Position(s) played: 7’s-Wing, 15’s-Wing and Flanker

When/how long did you play for the All Blues? 2006-2012

Victoria "Vix" Folayan in her Team USA jersey.  She is one of three All Blues alums who represented in Rio 2016.

Picture: Getty Images

ABM: How did you initially come to play for the All Blues?

Vix: Well, some college teammates like Katrina “Bisquit” Logan played for the All Blues after graduating.  Playing undergraduate rugby at Stanford, I had heard a lot about the club and was definitely intrigued by what rugby after college could look like. Could I handle it? Would it be all fun and games, or would it be professional? I had little expectations at that time, but I did know superstars like Jen Crawford, Jen Crouse, Mari Wallace, Jamie Burke and many others were affiliated with the team. That said the great athletes and people of the All Blues acted as motivators and piqued my interest in playing. It took me some time to actually go out for my first practice though! I was quite nervous to be playing with such cool athletes.

 

ABM: What did you take from playing on the pitch as an All Blue that you used on the Olympic Stage?

Vix: When I played with the All Blues, there was always an air of confidence that exuded from our hearts. I knew that every single woman on the field wearing All Blue blue and gold was going to fight their heart out to succeed. I had faith that every game was a hard fought match and we all left it on the field. That determination and confidence was incredibly helpful. In Rio, when the US played top tier teams like Australia and New Zealand, I channeled that All Blues confidence. It was simply beautiful—we looked into each other’s eyes and knew that no matter what the outcome, we were going to fight. I can never forget that feeling, and I felt it all the time with the All Blues.

 

ABM: How do you prepare, mentally and physically, for an Olympic match? How do you maintain your level of competitiveness from the first minute of the first match to the last minute of the last match?

Vix: Preparation for those 6 games began 3 and a half years earlier, in Oakland while I watched the US in Dubai. It was one of the first tournaments for the women’s world series, and I wanted with all of my heart to be there. I was chosen for that specific tour, and I vowed to do all I could to not have to watch another game on a computer screen. The mental preparation that was to follow consisted of making sure I took things one day at a time. One goal at a time, one specific skill to master at a time. First I wanted to get to the Olympic Training center, next I wanted to play in the World Cup, and it continued in that fashion until the Olympics. Its funny because once I was finally at the Olympics, it took an honest few days to really understand that I had made it. All of those little goals were almost complete. Pretty crazy thinking back. 

The physical preparation is built into the Chula Vista Olympic Center residency regimen. We trained 5-6 days a week, with about 8 hours each day of dedicated rugby and elite athlete training. Field sessions every day, with anything from skills and set pieces, to conditioning games and intense interval sprints (I don’t miss those!). We also had a mental strength counselor, a nutritionist, a high performance coach, strength coaches, technical coaches, and a complete sports medicine facility as well. With the amount of resources available at the center, anyone can be physically prepared to compete in the Olympics if [the resources are] used effectively. 

During the games, my level of competitiveness is always high. That is in my nature. The true challenge was for me to stay focused and not get caught up in all of the lights. My teammates were helpful in that respect. We would check in with each other before set pieces, and make sure we were still connected. That was really nice to have. The goal for each game was to stay in the present moment.

 

ABM: Who has influenced you the most as a player?  What did you learn from them?

Vix: I am trying to think of just one person, but that’s close to impossible. I have learned from every rugby player I have ever played with or against. Rugby players are my influence—young, old, 15s, 7s, touch, no matter. The reason why I love rugby so much is because there is always something to learn

 

ABM: We have been told that you get a stipend to train at the OTC, but did you have to do other things to keep yourself financially afloat? Can you tell us a bit more about striking that work-training balance?

Vix: I never worked outside of training at the center. I was lucky to get one of the higher range stipends. I did not live luxuriously, but I was able to take care of myself. The work-training balance for me was quite easy only because I didn’t feel like training was work, and I had no other work besides training. Halfway through my training I enrolled in an online graduate school, to help create a little brain distraction from rugby. But to be honest, I mostly ate, drank and breathed rugby that whole time!

 

ABM: Training-wise, what will you be focusing on now that Rio has concluded? 

Vix: Training, what training? I’m not done? Haha. Yeah, I am still figuring out if I will be continuing a pursuit of elite level rugby. So that said, my training for now is simply long walks on the beach, hikes in the hills with my lovely dog Pop-pi, exploring vegetarian healthy food options in the bay, yoga and the occasional Zumba class. If I were to continue to pursue elite 7s rugby, I would shift my focus to aerobic capacity and flexibility. I didn’t play every minute of every game, and I want to build a larger base before fine tuning.

 

ABM: Since Rio, we have received multiple messages from people who want to try playing rugby with us.  How do you think women’s rugby will change after being featured for the first time in the Olympics? (more specifically in the USA)

Vix: You’ve said it right there. Rio was an opportunity for rugby to grow in the states. I think the USA has a reputation of being a powerhouse when it comes to the Olympics, and so I know for sure that there are some women and girls that watched us almost beat the top teams, and want to be a part of beating those top teams. Additionally, I think it gave a chance for young girls to see that it is okay to be strong, and that it is highly welcomed in the rugby community. I hope that women’s rugby will be just as exciting as soccer or football.

 

ABM: Switching gears a little bit.  What are your current favorite song(s) to pump yourself up to?

Vix: Beyonce has and will always be a part of my playlist.  Beyond her, I’ve got a wide range of songs, and I usually cater them to how I want to feel for the game. I’ve got some Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Fall Out Boy, David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Salt N Pepa, Rihanna, Niki Minaj… the list could go on for a while…

 

ABM: What are Olympic rugby socials like?

Vix: I have no idea what you are talking about. I plead the fifth.