CHULA VISTA, Calif. - A four-time collegiate All-American during his Golden Bear career, University of California graduate Danny Barrett has signed a contract to join the U.S. National 7s team’s Olympic Residency Squad at the United States Olympic Training Center.
Barrett is the third Cal player to earn a 7s residency spot at the OTC, following Colin Hawley and Blaine Scully.
“This is obviously a great opportunity for Danny and we are of course really proud of him, “said Cal head coach Jack Clark. “His upside is significant, not just as a 7s player but even more so, in my view, as a full-game, 15s player. I believe with continued work he will develop into a real force.”
The youngest of three brothers, all of whom played for and graduated from Cal, Danny has relocated from his hometown of Pacifica to the USOTC facility in Chula Vista, Calif., to seize the opportunity that presented itself after his stellar play the Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s in June was followed by impressive showings with the USA Selects team at the IRB Americas Rugby Championship.
Barrett arrived at Cal in the fall of 2008, joining older brothers Jim and Neill on the Bears, and played all 80 minutes at No. 8 as a sophomore in the 2010 national collegiate 15s championship, a 19-7 Bears win over BYU. He was also on the roster that advanced through the first CRC 7s into the final that June, the first of his four CRCs. He ended his collegiate career with two national 15s championships (2010, 2011) and the 2013 CRC title to which he was a key contributor.
Barrett attributed his latest opportunity to a foundation of work that hardened over the course of his career at Cal, where he was nurtured and pushed to pursue his potential.
“It’s been a gift to have played for Jack Clark. Everyone knows what he’s done in his career and what he’s done for the University,” Barrett said. “He put a lot of faith in me early and he helped me a lot all the way through the end of my career.
“Coach [Tom] Billups, having also been a U.S. National Team coach, brought so many important things to my experience. Without [director of operations] Jerry Figone, I would not have been at Cal either, from getting into school to staying in school academically, which, over five years, was tough. Then there was [athletic trainer] Dave Stenger -- there is no one else you’d want taking care of you. It was a pretty proud moment to have lifted him up after the CRC win. The hours these men devoted to the team was a really big thing for all of us.
From the medical side to the academic and media side, I have tremendous gratitude for everyone,” Barrett added. “Academically I owe great thanks to my advisors, Courtney Dolder and Nick McNeil. Courtney met with me every week and when she left, Nick offered the same thing: the answer to every question my family and I had, and a person to talk to about anything.”
After the CRC at the Americas Rugby Championship last summer, Barrett tied for No. 2 among U.S. scorers with two tries as the USA Selects defeated Canada A and Uruguay in that tournament. Now that Barrett is training with the U.S. 7s team, the earliest fans could next see him in a USA jersey is Jan. 24-26 in the Las Vegas stop of the HBC Sevens World Series, where the United States will enter pool play with Argentina, France and Spain.
Barrett said he continues to be inspired by his former Cal teammates as he takes on the challenge of earning a spot on the U.S. roster.
“Seeing what guys like Blaine Scully, Eric Fry, Colin Hawley and Chris Biller, and, when I was younger, Tony Vontz, Andrew Lindsey and many others, could do for the team on and off the field was always an inspiration. Playing with Seamus Kelly, we talked a lot about what we wanted to do after school, with both of us saying, ‘I want to play with you all over the world.’ Seeing all these guys move on with the foundation they built, it’s an honor to be at the Olympic Training Center trying to build on what they have done.”