DALLAS -- Football season is in sight, but Lee Foliaki never envisioned this.
"I started my football career in Euless," recalls Foliaki. "I played for the Trinity Trojans."
Foliaki became a standout linebacker for Texas A&M University. In 2006, he signed with the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent. Injuries ended his career in a matter of weeks. "I kind of accepted it," admits Foliaki. "When I got to Minnesota, I just never pictured myself to even be that far. To be in camp and wear an NFL uniform, that was pretty cool."
Since childhood, Foliaki spent August preparing for football season, until he retired in 2010. Then, one year ago, he traded two-a-days for sevens.
Foliaki plays rugby sevens for the Dallas Rugby Football Club, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. "It’s not like football where you have one position, offense or defense," says Foliaki.
Sevens is a variant of the traditional 15 vs. 15 rugby. The match durations are shorter and there are fewer players on the pitch, which further accentuates the athleticism.
All that room to run, it’s no surprise Foliaki isn’t the only ex-D1 athlete on the pitch. Narada Jackson was a two-time All-American track star at Texas Christian University. "I can take my mind off everything and just play rugby, and it helps being faster than your opponent," Jackson chuckles. "You go as fast as you need to," says Narada Jackson, with a smile.
D’Montae Noble knows the feeling. The 21-year-old is a rising star in the sport, and he appears destined to play for the national team in the not-so-distant future.
Growing up, Noble played football, basketball and lacrosse. He ran track, and he did boxing and MMA.
The Dallas Rugby Sevens team finished 5th at nationals in New York City.
And, Lee Foliaki was be there because he decided to try something new.