Team USA names first-ever Olympic women’s rugby team

On Monday, the U.S. women’s national rugby team named the 12-woman roster that will play in the sport’s debut at the Rio Olympics this summer.

Returning members Ryan Carlyle, Victoria Folayan, Kelly Griffin, Kathryn Johnson and Jillion Potter were the core five who helped the U.S. place third at the 2013 Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow. Bui Baravilala was also called up to that 2013 squad, but could not participate due to injury. This time, however, Baravilala is good to go for Rio. Potter has recovered from a near career-ending neck injury in 2013 and beat cancer in 2015.

Nineteen-year-old Richelle Stephens will be the youngest member on the team. She also competed in the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games where the U.S. placed fourth.

[More from Excelle Sports: Tess Feury and the rise of international rugby]

The team’s roster represents athletes who have played different sports before rugby. For example, Jessica Javelet was a standout field hockey player at the University of Louisville and had spent some time playing on the U.S. field hockey development team. As for the others, eight played basketball, five played soccer, three ran track, two played football and one, Alev Kelter, was captain of the U18 U.S. hockey team in 2009 at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship.

Olympic rugby kicks off Aug. 6 when the U.S. faces Fiji and Colombia in Pool A.

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