USA Sevens star Kimber Rozier tells us about the final stages of build up for the Rugby World Cup Sevens.
We're getting very close to the World Cup now - what does the schedule for the next few weeks look like for USA?
We've been preparing for the World Cup all year, so we're keeping everything basically the same as far as our training schedule goes. We train Monday through Friday usually twice a day, and now that we're approaching World Cup, it's more about centering the focus of training rather than alter the schedule. The girls have done an excellent job coming out to training every day focused and ready to work, and we plan to take that same mindset in to the tournament.
Tell us what a day in the life is like in your camp at Chula Vista and what's it has been like being part of a fulltime programme?
In my opinion, there's no substitute for training full time. I feel incredibly honored and fortunate to be in Chula Vista with the opportunity to improve every single day. It really exemplifies the idea of getting out what you put in when all of your time is freed up for rugby. There's obviously training, but each of us personally has the time to work on our individual skills, watch video, or get in some quality recovery. Although it feels like rugby 24/7, wealso make time to enjoy the free time and just relax as well.
What's the best part of training fulltime?
It will probably always be just being able to do what I love all the time. It might be cliché to say it's a dream come true, but that's very much the reality of it. Being a full-time athlete is what I've wanted to do as long as I can remember, and each day I try to make sure I'm fully appreciating how special it is even when training sessions can be grueling.
And the worst?
As with any job, there are definitely harder days and days when it would be nice to take a vacation, but fortunately I'm not doing it on my own. We have an incredible staff, both through USA Rugby and with the United States Olympic Committee, and the facilities in Chula Vista are top notch, so it makes it really hard to not want to come to work. Of course, my teammates are here living and breathing this atmosphere as well, and they're hilarious. We always find ways to make those harder days a lot of fun because we know we're working for each other. That's why we all fell in love with rugby in the first place.
What happens with the World Cup is over?
After the World Cup, we'll have a few weeks off to debrief and get away from full-time rugby for a bit. It will be a nice and needed break to see family and friends, but we've become such a close knit family as a team that I can imagine I'll be ready to come back before I know it. We'll get the recovery time in and then head straight back to work to prepare for next years series and continue improving.
What did you think of the first World Series?
It was amazing. Fantastic work all around, and I can't thank everyone who helped organize it and the fans who supported us enough. Putting on your country's jersey and playing international rugby is an honor, and I love having the opportunity to travel all over the world to play in world class facilities against the best competition there is. I was impressed how the level of play by each team increased with every stop, and it keeps pushing us to continue to elevate our game. It was just the beginning of some really exciting rugby and is so good for the sport.
Any changes you would like to see made for next year?
There are plenty of places I'd like to see added to the series. It would be nice to enjoy a schedule similar to the men's and to play all of our games inside stadiums such as Twickenham or the Se7ens in Dubai. Crowds like that are electrifying.
How did you think the US performed on the series and what areas will you need to improve on?
I'm proud of how we've done this year as a team with finishing in the top four. The goal is always to bring home a Cup each tournament and ultimately win the series, so we have a few improvements to make in the coming years. We want to be on top and then the real challenge comes with staying on top, considering the strength of all the sides in the series. We're going to keep improving our fitness, sharpening the fundamentals and focus on being impenetrable on defense.
What are you personal aims in the sport over the next few years?
First of all, doing all I can to help the USA win the World Cup is number one on the list of priorities right now. In general, within the next few years, I'd like to become a better athlete all around. Now that I've got a couple of years of full-time training and a little more experience, I can really begin to utilize the individual growth I've had and keep pushing myself to the limit. I plan to participate with the USA sevens team as long as health allows and I'm blessed to be given the opportunity, and the next few years bring incredibly challenging events such as the World Series, the 15s World Cup and the Olympics. I plan to take on each new challenge as it comes, but keeping my main focus on just constant improvement every day.
You face Spain Brazil and Fiji at the World Cup - what do you expect from each of those sides?
We've seen all of these teams throughout the series, and we expect tough games from each of them. Spain is always a fun team to play because they're so dynamic with the ball in hand. Brazil has the tenacity to always give us and good fight, and Fiji is fearless on defense. All three sides also love to keep the ball alive, so they will definitely be exciting games. Although we always keep our opponents skill sets in our minds, our focus going in is on what we can do and playing our game to the best of our ability, one game at a time.
What are the USA aims at the World Cup?
We are there to win the tournament, of course. The great thing about high level competition and pressure situations such as a World Cup is that it really forces each team to bring their "A" game each time they step on that field. We've been working really hard to be able to do just that come game day.
What advice would you give to any aspiring women's players?
There's a quote on the wall at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista that I really enjoy and it has inspired me on many occasions. "It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, — always do what you are afraid to do."- Ralph Waldo Emerson I love that quote. Although I can't claim to be as eloquent as Emerson, my personal advice would be: If you love something, never give up on it. There will be times that it seems too hard or even impossible, but just don't give up. Take each day as an opportunity to improve and grow, and keep fighting.
Will you play rugby at international 15s again or are you now totally focused on 7s?
I'd love to play international 15s again. 7s and 15s are obviously very different games, but I enjoy playing both of them for their own reasons. I love the freestyle sheer athleticism of 7s that allows you to be creative and just play at such a high speed, but I also enjoy the mental chess game involved in 15s and the demands to get involved in more contact over 80 minutes. Both styles of play are great in their own right, and I'm just happy to be playing rugby.