Nana Fa’avesi may have already had one of the best hits of the year for the HSBC 7s World Series with her crushing tackle at the start of the 7s season. If you search out images of her you’ll find she’s either running away from people or going Heisman on defenders with that fending straight arm.
We first chatted with Joanne “Nana” Fa’avesi last year when she was working to make the USA 7s Olympic Roster for Rio (which she did make). Back then we said she was a beast and she hasn’t disappointed. We caught up with here just this past week after the holidays and after her stint for the 15s selection camp.
In our initial feature we covered a bit on who Nana is and how she got her start, but this time we wanted to see what life has been like for her as a full time professional/contracted rugby player and the grind that becomes the life of professional or Olympic level athlete.
So here is our chat with Nana Fa’avesi and her grind to be the best in her game.
The Rugby Republic (RR): So Nana for the people that don’t know, what kind of grind is it being a professional/contracted Eagle’s player. How many free days a week do you have how much travel and training time, etc?
Nana Fa’avesi (NF): It’s a day and night type of grind being a professional athlete. We have the weekends off but we are still required to do some active recovery. We train Monday-Friday and have a full day of field sessions, weight room sessions & film sessions. It is a full time job.
RR: So let the readers know the work it takes. What is an average day for you?
NF: An average day for me is waking up around 6-6:30am. Within one day we will either have one weight session, one field session & film session. Or, a speed session & 2 field sessions. There are also times in between for prehab & recovery. I normally make my way home around 3:30-4pm. So yeah it is like a full-time job.
RR: What is the best part at being able to train full time at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA (OTC)? How has that helped?
NF: The best part about being able to train full time at the OTC is being around so many other athletes who are all on the same type of grind. They are all motivated to be better and to compete at a higher level. It has helped me by keeping me motivated and keeps me in the mindset that the grind doesn’t stop. You’re not just an athlete on the field, you’re an athlete on and off the field.
RR: At this point you have to feel spent? You’ve had Rio for the Olympics, then 15s with the Eagles, then back to the 7s for the World Series and just this week 15s Camp!
NF: There are plenty of times where I have felt spent. I feel it’s normal for an athlete. It takes a toll on mind and body but that is where the recovery plays the biggest part for me. 15’s and 7’s has there differences but both can leave one tired. It’s the beauty of being an athlete. You’ll never stop being sore or being tired you just learn to recover the best way you know how and what works for your body.
RR: For people who do not know, your boyfriend is Folau Niua (also a full time Eagle and Olympian). How has the fact that you both play on the 7s circuit, are full time Eagles helped with training, being a professional and/or to help you keep chasing the dream?
NF: Yes, my boyfriend is Folau Niua. The fact that we both play professionally helps push me harder. We both wake up with the same intent to keep grinding and to train hard because there’s always someone coming up that could take your spot. Because we know how the travel life goes we understand each other, we know the ups and downs to being a full-time athlete couple so it works. We push each other to chase whatever the next little thing it is that we want to do. He also keeps me grounded and reminds me that at the end of the day it is just rugby.
RR: You’ve really emerged this past year of one of the top Eagles 7s players. What do you think has lead to your success?
NF: I’ve only had success in anything because God has seen me through everything. My family, boyfriend and coaches have also been a driving force in my life which makes me want to do bigger things and be better then I was yesterday. Failing has also played a part in my little success. Keeps me on my toes and makes me work harder.
RR: What keeps you humble? You are as we said at such a young age become a high profile player, with great success but you go about it as if it is normal?
NF: What keeps me humble is remembering where I came from. My family never had much but I was always taught to be thankful because there are people out there with less. Even with great success I am reminded that I am an instrument and this is all for God’s glory.
RR: What is your next rugby goal? Winning Las Vegas? A 15s World Cup? A 7s World Up?
NF: My next rugby goal would be to return to training on the 9th and make the best of it. This year will fly just as fast as last year and… time waits for nobody. My next big rugby goal would have to be making the 15’s World Cup Squad!
We want to thank Nana for her time. She is busy with full time training and travel related to being a full time rugby player, yet with all that she just takes it all in stride. If you haven’t been following her you need to, she’s having a great year and the Women’s 7s will also stop in Las Vegas this year so there is some additional incentive for Nana and the ladies to make a big showing.
You can go back and read the earlier piece we did with Nana (see link at start of the story) to learn more about how she got here. You can also follow her on Twitter @nanafaavesi92 or on IG @nanafaavesi92.