Describe your typical day at West Point?
5:00 Wake up
5:30 Lift and breakfast
7:10 Morning Formation
7:30 Classes until 11:55
12:00 Lunch Formation
12:40 Free Period
13:50 Last class until 14:50
15:45 Rugby and Dinner until 19:30
20:00 Study/free time
23:00 Lights Out
What motivated you to apply to West Point?
I didn't want a normal college experience, I wanted a challenge that would develop me into a leader. Also I would get to serve my country and become an officer while gaining a free education.
When did you start playing rugby and who was your club?
I starting playing rugby when I was about 11 years old and played for the San Diego Mustangs
Where and where did you represent the HSAA?
I represented HSAA through 2013-2015 doing a tour to England, Portugal, and Vegas 7s
How did EIRA help you improve your game?
EIRA has improved my game greatly by getting hands on training with excellent coaches, learning new material and tactics, and developing skills and character.
What advice do you have for young players looking to get better?
That having a coachable attitude is the best requirement in getting better and developing your game. Have fun and work in individual skills
How much fun has it been to play for Army as a freshman?
It's been a blast playing for Army rugby. It's a great environment and the coaches and faculty are great. The facility is unbelievable and has a great view next to the Hudson. I have learned a lot and my skills are constantly developing.
rugby in college but the only real offers that I had received were in football and in rugby.
Why did you choose West Point?
I honestly didn’t have any intention of attending West Point until the football team came calling. It was the only real offer that I received at the D1 Level and that was something I had really been looking forward to. Once I visited the school and talked to my parents (both West Point grads), I realized that it was something that I thought would be good for me, and a place that I could be very successful at. It ended up being one of the best decisions of my life even though football didn’t workout. Now I also have a younger sister who is a Firstie (Senior) at West Point and she is doing extremely well as a student leader and a soccer player.
How difficult was it to play competitive rugby and meet the demands of West Point?
It was definitely a challenge for me and I would be lying to you if I said I was any good at it. It was something that took a while to get used to and even when I was used to it I struggled in some aspects. The nice thing about West Point was that it is a place that if you make a genuine effort and have a good work ethic, it is hard to fail. The support structure there is one of the best you will find in any school. The team was instrumental in keeping me focused on what was at hand and the school has an incredible system to make sure you have the help you need while developing you into an Officer.
Which USA Rugby teams have you played for?
I started playing age grade rugby at the U17 level when we competed in the Milfield tournament in England. I made my way through U19, U20, and Collegiate All-American 7s before getting my first caps with the Men’s Eagles. I went on two tours with the XV’s team and received three caps and then moved on to the 7’s National Team.
What are your most memorable achievements to date on and off the field?
I have too many great memories to get them all down but some of my favorites were beating Navy while I was a cadet, graduating from West Point, starting in my first cap against Canada just to name a few. My all time favorites are winning the Armed Forces Championships with the All-Army rugby team three years in a row and receiving the Bronze Medal at the Pan-American games in Toronto earlier this year.
Explain what the WCAP is and how it works
WCAP stands for World Class Athlete Program. It is a program for gifted soldier athletes to be able to compete in the Olympics. I found out about it when I graduated from West Point and found out rugby was going to be an Olympic sport. If a soldier can bring evidence forward that he has a legitimate shot at being an Olympic athlete (for me it was a letter from the 7’s National team coach), you can apply to the program. If accepted, you are stationed at Ft. Carson, CO and they send you to live and train in an environment conducive to you making the Olympics. WCAP will send you on recruiting missions during off time but your main job in the program is to play your sport and become a part of Team USA.
How many WCAP players are in the OTC USA Sevens squad?
There have been five of us so far, four of which are currently in the team. 1LT Ben Leatigaga, SGT Mattie Tago, and myself are all currently players. CPT Andrew Locke has just made the switch to coaching for the team that is supported by WCAP and SGT Nu’u Punimata just left the team to join the Special Forces, which has been another dream of his.
What's a typical day look like for you at the OTC?
Our typical day of training consists of three different blocks. Generally we start in the weight room at 0800, lift for an hour and then eat breakfast. At around 1030 we will have an individual skills session, which consists of specific skill training that has been recommended by the coaching staff. After about 30 minutes we will then go into a team skills session for about an hour and then finish with about 30 minutes of conditioning work. Lunch follows that and a rest period before our last session of the day, which is where the staff likes to get us playing rugby. After that session we have recovery time, dinner and then prepping for the next day. That is four days of the week with a very light day in the middle somewhere.
What does the Army expect from you as a WCAP athlete?
Most of all they expect us to be representing the Army and setting the example of what a soldier in the US Army looks like. Besides that they make sure that you are staying up to date on your yearly training and making strides towards being a part of Team USA.
Can young prospects make the WCAP as an enlisted soldier?
Definitely! There is now a route to go straight from basic training to WCAP. In order to be in WCAP you have to be branch qualified, or in other words you have to know how to do your specific job. Once you have finished those schools they send you directly to WCAP. You see this more in other sports like Wrestling and other poorly funded Olympic sports but it is a very viable option for someone who has been picked out by the National Team Coaches.
Do any of the other military services offer WCAP?
Yes every service has something similar to WCAP. CPT Eric Duchele is in the Air Force’s version of WCAP. From what I understand, the Army is the only service that has a specific unit for the athletes but there is a way to be training for the Olympics full time in all services.
What are your ambitions for 2016?
My number one goal is to be on that flight to Rio for the 2016 Olympic Games and that is within reach right now. Other than that, I would like to get back in the XV’s player pool and maybe make a run at the next Rugby World Cup. You never know what the year will bring though!
Interview with Will Holder, 1st Lieutenant in the US Army and USA Rugby National Sevens Team, in residence training at the Olympic Training Center, Chula Vista, California
At what age and grade level did you start playing rugby?
I started playing rugby in the summer after 3rd grade when my father decided to get a group of my friends from school and sports together for a summer camp. At the time my father was the coach of the Air Force Academy rugby team and was trying to grow the game. We started off playing barefoot tackle 7s rugby in the park behind my house in Golden, CO.
Which options did you have to play college sports coming out of high school?
I went to high school in Palo Alto, CA and played Football, Baseball, and Basketball there while playing club rugby for the East Palo Alto Razorbacks when I had the time. Coming out of high school I had opportunities to play baseball, football, and