Running for Their Olympic Lives

Meet 2 locals defying stereotypes and trying to make the USA Women’s Rugby Team

Spend just a few minutes on the sidelines of a USA Women’s Rugby practice and you’ll find there’s no room for the traditional perception of what is and what isn’t “lady like."

A group of hard-hitting women based at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center have their eyes set on history and their bodies full of bruises.

The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro will be the first to include Women’s Sevens Rugby.

Two San Diego County women hope to see their names on the final roster when final selections get announced later this year.

Jessica Javelet, a graduate of Torrey Pines High School, and Richelle Stephens, a graduate of Fallbrook High School, share more than just local roots and an Olympic dream.

The two women don’t look like typical Rugby players.

“They usually think I’m a soccer player,” said Stephens.

“I’m shifty. I’m on the quicker side, definitely not on the bigger side. I probably run for fear of my life from some of the bigger players,” said Javelet.

But their similarities in size stand in direct contrast to their experience in the sport.

Javelet is a former collegiate field hockey player who turns 31 in June and played several seasons of professional women’s football. She feels like this could be her final chance to make an Olympics.

“It’s kind of like a dream come true actually, to just be in this opportunity,” said Javelet.

Stephens, who picked up the sport playing for a club team in Fallbrook, just graduated high school and, at 18 years old, is the youngest player on the current roster.

“It’s fun. Everyone takes care of me. Everyone jokes with me about being the youngest one,” said Stephens, who put college on hold to pursue the Olympics.

When I asked what other sports Stephens played growing up, a teammate quickly chimed in saying, “She is still growing up."

The current roster will be trimmed to about a one-third of its current size for the final Olympic roster, which will be named in late July, just two weeks before the start of the Summer Olympics.

A third player with local ties, Hannah Lopez of Carlsbad, also hopes to make the team.

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