Wooching’s passion is paying off
Kealakehe graduate has no regrets about spurning NFL draft for rugby
In late April of last year, Psalm Wooching’s phone rang. On the other end, it was the Oakland Raiders, then — a little later — the New York Jets.
The teams were in the midst of the NFL draft weekend and were checking in on the former Washington standout outside linebacker, seeing if he was still certain that he wanted to pursue a rugby career, rather than one on the gridiron. Wooching didn’t budge. “They were just checking in, asking if I was completely sure with my decision,” Wooching said with a grin. “It was cool on draft day to still get calls, but I was set.”
A few months earlier, Wooching shocked many when he announced his plan on Twitter to pursue a rugby career rather than the NFL.
“I will be exchanging shoulder pads for short shorts and rugby boots,” Wooching wrote. “My first love and sport I excelled in was rugby, and it is time for me to follow my heart.”
It wasn’t an easy choice to make, but before he made it public, he bounced the idea off family, friends, his new fiancée Courtney Gano, and
his childhood mentors — uncles and aunties, many from the Island Breeze family, which he grew up doing luau productions with.
“I had a lot to say,” Wooching said. “They heard me out. I’m very thankful for that. Besides some of the, ‘Dude, you could be a millionaire overnight’ comments, everyone was very supportive.”
When he eventually made his decision public, he was thinking it would be just for family, friends and Washington fans. Instead, he made international headlines as “The college football prospect that spurned the NFL.”
“I don’t feel like I missed out,” Wooching said. “I feel like I have accomplished my football dream. I played at the top level of college football and if I wanted to play at the next level, I could have.”
Almost a year after announcing his decision, Wooching can feel confident he made the right choice. The 2012 Kealakehe grad has already been around the globe playing the sport he loves deeply and is connected to culturally, and next month, he will be suiting up for the USA Eagles — the top-level national team.
“When I looked back on the last year, I came up with the term ‘platform year,’” he said. “I got to do so much, earned a ton of experience and put my name out there. It laid the platform for the future. As for this coming year, I think it will be one for the books.”
Wooching is currently in California, preparing for the upcoming Americas Rugby Championship with the Eagles early next month. However, he came back to the Big Island to ring in the New Year, giving him some time back home to reflect.
“The fire that drives me started here. Whatever I do, I try to bring the Big Island with me,” Wooching said. “It has been great to get my mind and body right. I was able to reconnect with a lot of people.”
Psalm Wooching has always identified as a rugby player, but the skill set he refined during his time as a standout with the Washington Huskies makes him an intriguing prospect. Wooching is in California preparing for the upcoming Americas Rugby Championship with the USA Eagles — the top-level national team – early next month.