When Sam Overton moved to Kelowna with his family from his native home in Manchester, England, his rugby coach had a few parting thoughts for him.
That was two-and-a-half years ago after Overton had taken to the sport of rugby quite well.
“My school team was really good and we had a really good coach,” said Overton, now in Grade 11 at Okanagan Mission Secondary. “My coach said that I had the potential to one day play for Team Canada. I never really thought that much about it.”
That was until the past two years when Overton has been playing with Team Canada as a member of the Under 17 rugby team which recently returned from a tour to the U.S. They played the Team USA Under-18 rugby squad and split a pair of games.
“It’s incredible,” said Overton, a 6-foot, 180 pounder. “I never expected this. I was really surprised when I got the invite for Team B.C. Now to have gone and played for Canada is incredible. I didn’t expect anything like it.”
Overton is now setting his sights on Team B.C. and a seven-aside rugby tournament in Las Vegas. Sevens, as it’s known in the rugby world, is different than traditional rugby with fewer players and more and longer passes.
Overton says it will take some getting used to but with the seven-aside game making its Olympic debut in the 2012 summer Olympics, Overton is thrilled to be able to play the sport on Team B.C.
“I’m really looking forward to improving my sevens,” he said. “We will see some good competition.”
Overton was born in England and started playing rugby in Grade 8. Coming to Canada he found that the sport is less popular, although it is played in elementary and high schools. Being from the interior is not the easiest route to playing with Team B.C. or Team Canada, but Overton has shown enough game to get onto the national team radar at the U-17 level.
His love for the sport is one reason he has excelled.
“I love rugby because it combines a lot of sports,” he said. “It demands endurance, strength, speed and agility. There is a lot of teamwork involved. It takes everyone working 100 per cent for the whole game to have success. It’s a very selfless game. It doesn’t matter who scores it just matters what team wins.”
Overton is currently in training with both his school team at OKM and with a personal trainer as he gets ready for the seven-aside series with Team B.C.
The high school season will begin in the spring and he says OKM has a good squad that will be challenged by Kelowna Secondary.
With solid grades to go along with his passion for the sport, Overton is hoping he can turn those things into a post secondary education where he can keep playing the game he loves.
“My ultimate goal is just to do as good as I can and never turn down an opportunity I receive,” he said. “I really want to get a scholarship to a good school.