2022-23 Kaler Family Rugby Scholarships Recipient: Sosaia Pongi
For Sosaia Pongi, rugby is a lifeline, “Rugby helped me out so much in my life. Not only keeping me out of the streets, but whenever I was sad or mad, playing rugby, or even just playing around with the rugby ball, was my happy spot. I feel like that's where I get to truly be myself and just having fun,” said Pongi.
He played for Menlo Atherton High School Rugby Club and the East Palo Alto Razorbacks/Razorhawks Rugby Club. During his high school tenure, he served as team captain on multiple occasions and lead his teams to Junior Varsity High School Division I NorCal Rugby and NorCal 7s Tournament Championship titles.
“Many of his peers have not made the connection between success on the pitch and training away from the touch field. Saia is an exception, organizing hill runs in the off season and consistently training and putting in work away from the rugby pitch. Most impressive is his ability to focus on big goals, going to college, and to back up those intentions by putting in time studying and training for games,” said Shaun Paga, former East Palo Alto Razorhawks Head Coach.
Pongi graduated from Menlo-Atherton High School in the spring of 2022. He was a four-year member of the Menlo-Atherton football team, earning Most Improved Player his senior year. He is also an active member of his church. He will continue his rugby career at Saint Mary’s College while working toward a degree in business administration. He would like to own his own business one day, hoping to eventually have the capacity to give back to his family for all they have sacrificed and instilled in him. His rugby goals include elevating his rugby IQ and skills to the collegiate level. He envisions his rugby future at the MLR or international level.
"Sosaia Pongi is a stud on the rugby pitch but we have been lucky enough to get to see how good of a young man he also is off the pitch. He's soft spoken but since day one he has come in with a winning attitude and a work ethic like no other. He has fit in perfectly with the Saint Mary's rugby culture. He doesn't shy away from anything we have asked from him and has embraced adversity in many different forms. He has been on time to every morning session, practice, and film session that we have had. He is a natural leader and a person we are lucky enough to call our brother,” said Saint Mary’s College Rugby Vice Captain, Erich Storti.