Discovering the sport of rugby created a sense of community and gave Avalua Lafitaga a new zest for life. The thrill of a busy slate of weekly practice and games, on top of maintaining schoolwork, was a challenge that she embraced, all because it allowed her to play the game that she loves.
Lafitaga played rugby for the La Costa Canyon High School Mavericks during her four years of high school. Throughout her career, she was awarded with leadership team and captain honors, as well as receiving the Lady Mav Award for demonstration of ideal characteristics of a teammate on and off the pitch.
She was also a member of the Coastal Dragons Youth Rugby Club from 2016-2019, appearing in tournaments such as the Fullerton Rugby High School International Invitational Tournament and the North American Invitational Sevens Tournament. With the Coastal Dragons, she earned three Most Valuable Player honors, a Most Valuable Forward nod, a leadership award, and was captain.
Avalua could also be seen on the pitch playing for the Southern California Griffins, the Institute of Rugby, and Eagle Impact Rugby Academy. Throughout all these team and representative sides, one thing remained a constant, Alvalua was continually recognized for her leadership. Most notably, she was selected as a USA Rugby Academy Girls High School Resident Camp West participant.
Not only does she excel on the pitch, but she is also highly praised for her character and dedication to be a well-rounded student athlete.
“Avalua is a great student. She is hardworking, organized, respectful, and a self-starter. She works well individually and in a group. She has a quiet demeanor at times, but she is well liked by her peers and she is a great leader,” said La Costa Canyon High School Spanish Teacher, Analuz Palomo.
She graduated from La Costa Canyon High School with a high GPA and was a four-year AVID student and leader. Her involvement in AVID guided her to challenge herself academically and pursue a college education. On top of her class schedule, Lafitaga also served as a teacher assistant for three years and was responsible for grading homework assignments, tests, and more. She was an active volunteer in her community, spending time serving at a nursing home, local school carnivals, and at La Costa Canyon High School Athletic events.
She will further her education and athletic career at Lindenwood University in Charles, Missouri. She is eager to develop her skills at the next level and achieve her goal of playing professionally one day. Avalua is focused on being the best teammate and being a contributor to her team in any capacity.
“From a player standpoint, she has come in as a freshman and started, contributing in multiple matches throughout our fall season and showing a ton of potential at the next level. Lali embodies a student athlete and is excelling in the classroom as well. She is a team player, and brings energy and enthusiasm to our practice sessions and team,” said Billy Nicholas, Head Women’s Rugby Coach at Lindenwood University.
After college, Avalua intends to become a canine police officer, and would love to serve and give back to her community.