View Park Rugby player Nia Toliver has received the title High School Athlete of the Month by Sports Illustrated. Representatives from the US Marines and members of the men’s and women’s Rugby national team attended a special ceremony for Toliver at the campus of View Park Preparatory Accelerated Charter High School on Friday, November 13.
Toliver’s mastery of Rugby has given her numerous accolades and camp invitations. The honors student has been invited to Olympic development training camps and made ties with the USA men’s and women’s national teams, Sports Illustrated reports.
“They were really nice and supportive, they treat me like a younger sister,” said Toliver. “They’re just accepting, especially because I proved myself to them.”
Before high school, Toliver would watch her sister, Rashida, play Rugby. Toliver tried basketball, but her playing style conflicted with the rules of gameplay.
“She’s aggressive and often fouled when she was playing basketball,” said Toliver’s mom, Sheri.
Toliver began playing Rugby in the eighth grade and received an invitation to travel with View Park’s team to New Zealand. Although she was unable to attend the trip, Toliver seized several travel opportunities as a high school student at View Park.
“Nia has been a phenomenal athlete right from the start. We knew that she had huge potential,” said head coach Stuart Krohn.
During her junior year, Toliver lived in New Zealand for five months to get “intensive” training, according to Krohn.
“She played on a city championship basketball team when she was nine years old,” said Toliver’s father, Nick. “She’s been accustomed to winning for a long time, developing a winning attitude, the discipline that it takes to move forward. The hard work is always there.”
While playing with the high school All-Americans, Toliver injured her shoulder. To help rehabilitate the injury, Toliver and her father created exercise equipment for her to use in their backyard. One apparatus is a power sled that gives Toliver the pushing power needed to play Rugby.
“A power sled basically is a full body workout you can’t really over exhaust you muscles when you do that, so I can do that everyday,” said Toliver. “That’s a really big help.”
The View Park rugby team plays for the southern California conference of an organization named USA Rugby, the governing body of the sport in America. The boys Rugby team reached the finals two years in a row, according to Krohn.
“We played against Saint John Bosco in the finals last year,” Krohn said.
Krohn is also the director of Rugby for Inner City Education Foundation Public Schools. Rugby season starts in December and ends in April. Toliver believes that both teams have strong players and their advantage is the strong sense of comradery among players.
“Every time we go on a trip together, we become like a family,” said Toliver. “We all bond really well because of Rugby.”