May 24, 2012
BERKELEY - An exciting group of 16 student-athletes will join California rugby as freshmen in the fall of 2012, bringing their diverse talents to the Golden Bears as the program looks to delve into a first-semester 7s season before its traditional spring 15s with the welcome return of Witter Rugby Field as its home venue in 2013.
The incoming class, consisting of 10 backs and six forwards, is a balanced blend of California players, a Texan and two from New York. They will be joined by two international students.
"This is our first attempt at considering Rugby Sevens' potential as part of our talent identification process," said head coach Jack Clark. "Several of these players have strong potential in the 7s game."
As has come to be customary, the majority of these new players attended one or more Cal Rugby Summer Camps, all of them enjoyed multiple sports throughout their high school careers, many were captains and MVPs on their teams, several were coached by former Cal players and almost half have family members who also attended the University.
"The class is typical in their connections to us," coach Clark remarked. "That said, I also think it is potentially one of the finest classes in recent memory."
JESUIT SENDS FOUR
Winner of the Northern California single-school title in 2012 following its 2011 national high school championship, Jesuit High School in Carmichael, Calif., will see four of its graduates join the Rugby Bears this autumn. The Marauders coaching staff includes John Shorey and alumni parent and former U.S. international Fred Khasigian.
Anthony Calnero is a 6-2, 220-pound forward who started on the 2011 title team and captained the Marauders rugby squad his senior season. Calnero also played football at Jesuit, starting on the offensive and defensive line as a senior. He won the Delta River League Sportsmanship Award and led his team in sacks in his senior campaign. At the 2011 Cal Rugby Summer Camp, he received the Golden Bear Award. Calnero's father, Carl, played lacrosse at Colgate University and his grandfather, also named Carl, played football at Florida. His sister Lauren was a 2003 All-America water polo player at Cal.
Blake Haynes, at 5-10 and 215 pounds, played hooker and flanker for Jesuit. Born in Omaha, Neb., Haynes is a two-time recipient of Jesuit High School's St. Thomas Moore Award for Character and is a senior Salutatorian who will open Jesuit's graduation with a prayer. Haynes also participated in choir at Jesuit and led the senior religious retreat called Kairos. A rugby starter since his junior year, Haynes moved from flanker to hooker during his junior season. He played football for the Marauders as a fullback and linebacker through his junior year, then rowed crew as a senior with the Upper Natoma Rowing Club. The 2011 Cal Rugby Summer Camp attendee may pursue architectural studies at Cal.
Cameron Todd has been an Honor Roll student since his sophomore year at Jesuit. Also a leader of the school's Kairos program, Todd played four years of football including the past two on varsity, with team MVP honors primarily as a running back in 2011, when he averaged over six yards per carry. Standing at 5-7 and 190 pounds, Todd featured as a center, wing and fullback for the Marauders in rugby, starting in the 2011 national championship and throughout the 2012 season.
The fourth Jesuit graduate joining the Bears this fall is George Vrame, whose GPA above 4.0 landed him on the Honor Roll every semester of high school. Another Kairos leader at Jesuit, Vrame also made an immersion trip to New Orleans in the summer of 2011 to assist with the ongoing efforts to rebuild homes in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The 6-2, 255-pound prop became a full-time starter and co-captain for the Marauders his senior season. Vrame played four years of football at Jesuit, starting as an offensive and defensive lineman as a senior and earning Delta River League honors. He also threw the shot put and discus for Jesuit, played soccer for River City United's U-17 club and attended the Capital Athletic Soccer Academy through his junior year as a center forward and center back. His father, Chris, was a member of the DePaul University basketball team. Vrame attended the 2011 Cal Rugby Summer Camp and may aim for political science or business studies at the University after he pursues a VFR pilot license this summer.
"These four Jesuit boys have extraordinary potential and they are a great fit for our student-athlete ethos," said Clark.
DIXON AND DAVIS IN THE MIX
Anthony Salaber, MVP of 2012 national champion Dixon High School, joins his brother, rising sophomore Nick, on the Cal rugby program, where their father, Rob, played fullback for the Bears under Clark before earning his degree in Civil Engineering at the University. Mr. Salaber became the head coach for rugby at UC Davis, taking the Aggies to the 1997 national collegiate semifinals, and went on to coach both his sons at Dixon. Standing at 6-5 and 205 pounds, the youngest Salaber started as a tight end and defensive end in football as a junior and senior at Dixon, recording 125 tackles as a junior, when his team won the Golden Empire League. He was a starter on Dixon's varsity rugby team since his sophomore year as a fullback and flyhalf. In 2012 he started all 13 possible games for the High School All-Americans in 7s as a prop at tournaments in Las Vegas and England. After attending Cal Rugby Summer Camp from 2006-2010, Salaber is considering engineering at the University, where his grandfather Lou also attended.
Clark said, "The opportunity to coach two boys on this team whose father I also coached is pretty special."
Coming from Davis High School is Patrick Barrientes, who attended Cal Rugby Summer Camp for two years and was named the Most Improved Camper in 2011. A 5-10, 185-pound back, Barrientes played rugby in 2012 for Dixon. Last summer, he served as a co-captain for the High School All-Americans at the Victoria 7s in British Columbia and was named to the all-tournament team. Barrientes was also a starting basketball player as a senior for the high-scoring Blue Devils at Davis. Before enrolling at Davis, Barrientes attended Jesuit, where he played varsity football and rugby as a midfielder. His father, Abel, is a U.S. Air Force Brigadier General who graduated from the Air Force Academy. His brother Robert played one year of rugby at UC San Diego.
EAST BAY OFFERS FOUR
From De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., comes Luc Hamilton, a 6-3, 230-pound forward who played four years of rugby for the Spartans, the last two as a varsity starter under head coach Ryan Louis. Hamilton's parents arrived in Livermore originally from Australia, where his father, Terry, played Aussie Rules Football before going to work for the United Nations in Monaco. Mr. Hamilton now works at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. His mother, Jan, is a district manager for the San Jose School District. Hamilton's sister Julie is considering options for collegiate water polo after two years at Diablo Valley College while their oldest sibling, Sarah, played basketball at Loyola Chicago and professionally in Australia. A 2011 Cal Rugby Summer Camp attendee, Hamilton also played football for De La Salle's storied football program, starting as a two-way lineman as the Spartans won back-to-back state titles in 2011 and 2012. Along the way, Hamilton was named to the All-League team of the East Bay Athletic League and All-Metro team for the Bay Area, and received second-team All-State recognition.
"Luc is a big, athletic young man from the top high school football program in the United States," Clark said. "All the De La Salle boys want to be coached and they're prepared to work as hard as it takes to succeed."
The other three incoming freshmen to arrive at Cal from the East Bay all played for the Lamorinda Youth Rugby Club, which defeated Oceanside on May 19 to become to California state U-19 club champion.
Karl Thornton comes from Campolindo High School to the University, where his father, Marc, played water polo, uncle Greg ran track and grandfather Nort is the former legendary head coach for men's swimming and diving. Coach Thornton was the longest-tenured coach at Cal before retiring after 33 years at the helm in July 2007. "Nort was a great coaching mentor for me and several of my colleagues at Cal," said Clark. "How great is it to now be able to coach his grandson?" Karl, at 5-11 and 190 pounds, is an Eagle Scout who has played outside center and fullback for Lamorinda, starting on varsity as a junior and senior. At Campolindo in football he was a junior co-captain, an all-league wide receiver as a junior and senior, and a second-team All-State and All-Metro selection as a senior defensive back with 12 interceptions, helping the Cougars reach the CIF Division III State Bowl Championship. He attended the 2010 and 2011 Cal Rugby Summer Camps.
From Miramonte High School comes Cameron Drake, a 6-1, 200-pound Honor Roll student and rugby center who has played for Lamorinda age-grade teams since the 6th Grade. A three-time attendee at Cal Rugby Summer Camp, Drake has also excelled at rowing, competing as a sophomore and junior for the Oakland Strokes. He helped to stroke the Novice 8 as a sophomore to the Southwest Regionals, then was brought up to Varsity 8 to row at nationals as both a sophomore and junior. His mother, Jan, attended Cal, as did cousins, aunts and uncles, grandfather James Davy and great-grandmother Katheryn Kilmer Davy. His brother, Ian, is a rower at Washington.
The second Miramonte graduate and third Lamorinda rugger joining the Bears is Miles Honens, a two-year varsity starter as a center, fullback and wing. Now standing at 6-0 and 185 pounds, Honens played football at Miramonte, earning league honors as a utility player in 2010 and a defensive back in 2011. Honens is also an accomplished skier, going from his home mountain of Squaw Valley into a professional career from age 14-17 in the big mountain, slopestyle and halfpipe categories, training during the summer at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City. A 2011 Cal Rugby Summer Camp attendee, Honens also has a deep family history at the University, where his uncle Scott Morris played water polo, aunt Holly Honens rowed crew and three more uncles, two more aunts and two grandparents also attended. His sister, Haley, rows crew at UC Santa Barbara. He and Karl Thornton are cousins.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA REPRESENTED
From St. Francis High School and the Los Angeles Cougars rugby club under former U.S. international coach and stepfather Chip Howard comes Christian Hess of Pasadena. A consistent Honor Roll student, Hess stands at 6-2 and 200 pounds. He played fullback and handled the placekicking duties during his career with the Cougars, which ended just before the 2012 postseason with an injury, the post-op rehabilitation from which will be in the capable hands of Cal's high-performance staff and environment after his arrival on campus. Hess's rugby experience extends to 7s with starts at center with the High School All-Americans in March at the Rosslyn Park Sevens in London. A 2011 attendee of Cal Rugby Summer Camp, Hess also played football for St. Francis, finishing his senior season at wide receiver as the team's offensive player of the year with 11 touchdowns and a 23.0 yards-per-catch average. His father, Bob, played baseball at Stanford and his aunt Erica Hess is a Cal graduate. Hess is considering economics and finance for his studies at the University.
Regarding Hess's injury, Clark said, "We are disappointed for Christian. He was very unlucky to injure his knee just as his collegiate career begins. Longer term, he is going to be fine and we are really glad to have him."
John Poston arrives at Cal from The Woodlands Preparatory School and Woodlands Youth Rugby Club, winner of the Texas state U-19 championship in 2012. Poston, a 5-10, 270-pound front-rower, will enjoy a homecoming of sorts in Northern California, having been born in Concord with his father, Steven, and uncle Danny both having graduated from Cal. A member of the National Honor Society, Poston was a member of his school's Destination ImagiNation team, which won a global championship in creativity, teamwork and problem-solving. Poston played as a two-way lineman on his school's football team, which achieved one its best seasons in school history his senior year with a deep run in the postseason. He also threw the shot put as a freshman and sophomore. In rugby, Poston played prop and hooker for Woodlands under head coach Phil Beck and forwards coach Mike Thibeadeux beginning in 8th Grade on the U-15s through his senior year as a U-19 starter. He attended Cal Rugby Summer Camp in 2009, '10 and '11.
XAVIER HIGH SCHOOL SENDS TWO FROM NEW YORK
Xavier High School, which advanced to the 2012 semifinals under coaches Greg Norris and Joe Sweeney before falling to eventual national champion Dixon, will add to its flourishing history of graduates who have gone on to attend the University when it sends two players to join the Bears this fall.
One of those student-athletes joining rising senior captain Seamus Kelly and rising junior Patrick Coleman on the roster is Charles Guiraud ("Jer-AHD"), a 5-8, 172-pound wing from Brooklyn who arrived in the United States in 2004 from Africa, having lived in Ghana and Niger. A frequent member of the Honor Roll at Xavier, Guiraud finished in the top 20 among all high school juniors who took the French National Exam. Guiraud played three years of rugby at the varsity level, two of those under now U.S. National Team head coach Mike Tolkin, with U.S. National Team scrumhalf Mike Petri also assisting Xavier during Guiraud's senior season. Guiraud was also a three-year starter at running back on the gridiron, capping his varsity career with a selection to the Catholic High School Senior Bowl. In addition, he participated in indoor track's 200-meter and shuttle-hurdle events. Guiraud also played Rugby Sevens for NYAC's youth team as a scrumhalf and center. His father, Rene, played soccer as a youth in Ivory Coast, West Africa, before going on to earn a Master of Economics degree at NYU. Mr. Guiraud now works as a parliament advisor for the United Nations. Guiraud may pursue economic studies at the University.
Also from Brooklyn, from which he commuted to school daily with Guiraud, is James Kondrat, a 6-4, 205-pound lock who became a full-time varsity starter as a junior. His GPA was Honor Roll-caliber every quarter and his community service took him from soup kitchens in Baltimore to construction sites in Tijuana. He competed in the high jump and hurdles in track and was a goalkeeper in soccer who earned the Coaches Award as a senior for his play and leadership. His father, Jeff, attended Columbia University after a childhood in Australia that included rugby and Aussie Rules Football, and is now an Assistant Commissioner of the City of New York. Kondrat may pursue business studies at the University, from which two of his first cousins also attended.
"What we know about Xavier is it produces rock-solid young men like Seamus and Pat," said Clark. "We can't have too many Xavier boys on the team."
INTERNATIONAL CONTINGENT FROM ENGLAND AND HONG KONG
Coming from England, where he attended the Cranleigh School in Surrey, is Harry Adolphus, who will carry the Olympic torch for a section of the relay on July 20 on its way to the Summer Games in London. Harry's mother, Joanne Roberts, competed in tennis for Essex County during her secondary school career, while his step-father, Clive Roberts, was a scrumhalf who played rugby at the county, regional and national levels in England. Mr. Roberts attended The Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst and went on to join the 7th Parachute Regiment. Harry's sister Pippa was an elite-level gymnast and his sister Lauren Roberts is a member of England's Royal School of Ballet. His brother Morgan Roberts played scrumhalf at Reed's School in Surrey; another brother, George Adolphus, plays cricket for Dorset County. Harry also played county cricket until age 16 for Surrey, earning a sports scholarship to Cranleigh. In rugby, the 6-1, 175-pound flyhalf helped Cranleigh win the prestigious Hampton School Sevens invitational and advance to the quarterfinals of the National School Sevens in England in 2010-11. During a gap year in 2012, Adolphus played 15s with Esher Academy. Adolphus may pursue interdisciplinary studies, including art and psychology.
Russell Webb comes to Cal from the Tonbridge School in Kent, England, and brings with him rugby experience that began at age six. He is fluent in Chinese, both Mandarin and Cantonese, and also studied German for four years. Standing at 5-8 and 175 pounds, Webb has played scrumhalf, flyhalf and center at Tonbridge and has been in the pipeline of Hong Kong's national development team, during which he came to know Cal rising junior Paul Bosco. Webb started at flyhalf for Hong Kong in the U-20 Asian Championships in 2011, when his team advanced to the final before losing to Japan. He is scheduled to compete with Hong Kong's U-20 team this June in Malaysia's Asia 7s Championships. In 2011, Webb was named Best and Fairest at the Cal Rugby Summer Camp. Both his parents attended Manchester University: his mother, Vivien, is a Managing Director at Goldman Sachs (Asia) and his father, Lawrence, was head of global management at HSBC before retiring to set up his own trade and finance business. Mr. Webb also played rugby as a back at Manchester University and Reigate Rugby Club in Surrey. Webb's older brother, Adam, played rugby at Cornell University.
The arrival of these 16 student-athletes to the University of California will create an evenly balanced squad of Rugby Bears for the 2012-2013 academic year. If the fall semester started today with all these admitted players in attendance, the roster would by 25 percent freshmen, 25 percent sophomores, 22 percent juniors and 28 percent seniors.