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PANGELINAN MAKES USA 15’s

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Guam’s Zachary Pangelinan is once again on Team USA, this time making the Rugby Select XV’s team playing in Canada this weekend. (courtesy photo)

By Patrick Lujan

Most athletes can only dream of reaching the pinnacle of their sport.

Rugby player Zachary Pangelinan has reached the top twice!

Pangelinan, coming off a major ankle injury after spending 2009 and 2010 on the USA Sevens National Team, was named to the USA Select 15’s squad currently set to play in the Americas Rugby Championships in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada this weekend.

“This is probably one of the biggest accomplishments I’ve had, especially coming back from my injury,” Pangelinan said from his training grounds in San Diego. “It’s overwhelming and it feels good.”

“We’re all excited for him,” his mother Tina Pangelinan said. “We’re so proud, what can I say. He’s a modest kid. He sets his goals and he’ll just keep going until he gets there.”

The former All-Island soccer and volleyball player for the Sanchez Sharks was phoned by USA head coach Mike Tolkin last month informing him about making the Select XVs, which is one step away from making the USA Eagles 15’s National Team. (see Team announcement story)

“They had some scouts scout me. They were looking for a fly half,” Pangelinan said. “To be given the opportunity again. This time, I’m stronger, faster and smarter and my gameplay is a lot better. I’m excited. I can’t explain it.”

The team assembles for the first time this week in San Francisco for a three-day camp before heading to Victoria to start the tournament against Argentina on Oct. 12.

Pangelinan looks to take the #10 jersey for Team USA – the all important fly half position. (courtesy photo)

Confident at #10

Unlike other sports where players can choose their jersey numbers, rugby players are assigned numbers based on their position with the starters getting 1-15. Pangelinan is aiming at jersey #10 and the starting fly half – football’s equivalent to the quarterback.

“I see the guys I’m going against and I know their style and I think I’m better than that. Now it’s just going out there and performing. I think I can hold on to that #10 for a long time. It’s one of the most difficult positions to play. It controls pretty much the game.”

Worried Mom

Tina Pangelinan, who recently retired from Guam Power Authority, has seen her son play the rough sport and still worries about him getting hurt.

“From what I understand, those are bigger, stronger men,” the Yigo mom said. “I know he’s got the speed like his mom used to have and I know he’ll do fine. I’m a weakling when it comes to pain, but my kids enjoy it. There’s something about rugby that they enjoy. The contact and long-term effect, that’s my fear.”

“Just the physical aspect is scary,” Zachary admitted. “I get scared too going up against bigger guys, but it’s a part of the game. I’m not one to take it, I’m one to give it. Especially after my injury, I’m coming back 10 times stronger. I need to be the enforcer on the field. Moms will always have their worries about their kids getting hurt. She asked me if I wanted to come home and play soccer, but I said no. I love this sport too much. She knows I’m not going to give it up.”

Pangelinan (back row, center) poses with his club team in San Diego: OMBAC Rugby. (courtesy photo)

GSPN will have the latest information regarding Zach’s games in the America’s Rugby Championship.

ZACH’S FEATURE STORY – March 28

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