Caravelli: "Camp was phenomenal"
USA Men’s Sevens head coach Al Caravelli was beaming after a grueling selection camp last weekend at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. Caravelli was impressed with the athleticism and skill of the players, but even more so with their demeanor.
With the announcement last weekend that USA Rugby is an Olympic Sport member of the United States Olympic Committee, everything rugby in America is elevated to a new status.
The pool Caravelli invited to camp was notably young (the average age was 22 years and six month) but there was a sure sense of purpose and maturity in the players.
"The best moment of camp was when the director of the facility came up to me and told me that the professionalism of the players was a great reflection on USA Rugby," said Caravelli. "Even experienced players like Nese came up to me and told me how impressed they were with the level of professionalism of all the guys."
Rugby athletes have to possess an uncompromising commitment to being a part of Team USA, and that is exactly what Caravelli is trying to cultivate. It not only projects a positive image of rugby, but it helps with on-field performance.
The team got to see what it means to be an Olympian and see strength personified. "We were there with the US Paralympic Track and Field team," said Caravelli, "They are preparing for their World Cup and that gave the guys a huge lift." The experience of training at the OTC with paralympians perhaps offered the players some perspective in their own athletic discipline.
"Fitness was on par with previous years," according to Caravelli, "but mental strength is what set this group apart."
That mental toughness showed on the field showed as guys worked through pain and soreness in 100 degree heat without a word of complaint.
Caravelli says that when a player has a high level of skill and fitness, training sessions are quicker and there is more time to recover. So, when you are fit and have worked enough on skills, camps are in fact easier. The effects are far-reaching in that once a player is at that level, growth can be exponential. Many players at the camp were at that level which gave them more recovery time so they were fresh for the next session.
Day One: Session 1 – Fitness, Session 2- Defensive work (individual and team) and attacking patterns, Session 3- Running attacking patterns
Day Two: Session 1 – Kick offs, Session 2 – Kick offs with scrums, Session 3 – Scrums, lineouts, kick offs
Day Three- Scrimmages
On the last day of camp, Caravelli divided the players onto teams for scrimmages. One team, we’ll call them the "Possible Probables" consisted of many players who were on the IRB Sevens World Series circuit last season. They looked solid, and were strong offensively and defensively, and only allowed a try when Caravelli had them play a man down.