• Mike Alvarez

Interview With 3X Rugby World Cup Player Deven Johanna O'Crump

Updated: May 7

Mollie Martin, Strength & Conditioning Trainer for RugbyNation.com interviewed her longtime friend Deven Johanna O'Crump, and it's an interview you don't want to miss.


Daven's Bio:

Deven Johanna O'Crump is an American pro rugby 15s & 7s player. She made her debut for the United States in 2014. She was honored at the Women’s Sports Foundation’s 32nd Annual Salute to Athletes in 2011. She won the Bronze Medal at the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow, Russia. She also played in the 2014 Rugby World Cup in Paris, France and in Ireland in 2017.


Highlights:

  • The importance of inviting your friends to play rugby

  • What it takes to be a pro rugby player

  • Deven's motivational Spotify playlist

  • What she loves about playing rugby

  • Coming back after an ACL tear

  • What she does in her workouts now during this period of quarantine

  • How to stay positive during trying times like what we are going through today

  • Favorite players and what makes them great



Here's the transcript of the interview:

Interview with Dev RN MOLLIE: Hey, Dev. Dev: Good mornin’ Mollie: How’s it goin’? Dev: Good. How are you? Mollie: I’m good, thank you. First I want to say, Thanks for joining today. You really didn’t have a choice since you’re my best friend. And… Kind of forced you to do this. But, how’s your morning going so far? Dev: Good. Good. Just had some breakfast. Coffee and eggs. So Saturday. Probably see some friends today. Mollie: Well, beautiful in sunny San Diego, I’m sure. Dev: Yeah, so it always, typically, is. Supposed to get pretty warm today, so… Mollie: Awesome. Well, let’s get into it. We’re going to just kinda do some rapid fire interview questions, so just feel free to say whatever you want, go with the flow. So when did you start playing Rugby and where? Dev: I started playing Rugby at Penn State. It was the Spring of my Sophomore year. I had just got done playing soccer for the Penn State Club team for a while. I was looking for kind of another challenge, looking for like a different group of friends. Not that the soccer team wasn’t great, but just looking to keep myself busy. I had never been in school and I honestly had too much time on my hands and needed to fill it with something. So a friend recommended rugby and I said sure, I’ll give it a shot, and I never stopped going from that day. Mollie: Who was that friend? So who actually got you to play? Dev: Her name’s Julia McKenna. She actually was a teammate at Penn State Berk, so I played for the Division III team, and then went to main campus. And she joined the rugby team. I stuck with soccer, and she told me for a long time I should try it, and I said no, actually, for a long time. And then finally I was bored on a Friday night. It was I think [1:55] a 10 pm practice and, yeah, Julia, thank you so much. Without you, convincing me to try out, my life would be much different. Mollie: Yeah, I think we all have those friends that kind of get us to play, and I guess we never get a chance to thank them, so that’s awesome. So, tell everybody how many rugby world cups have you played in and where was your favorite location? Dev: So I played in 3 Rugby World Cups. The first one was in Moscow, Russia, in 2013. That was for Sevens. We actually took Bronze medal in that one, which was pretty exciting. The next one was the 2014 World Cup in Paris, France, and that was awesome. That was for 15s. And then I played the most recent World Cup in 2017 in Ireland and we kind of toured all through Dublin and Belfast, and yeah, so three World Cups. So it was great. Mollie: Awesome. Dev, you were on the original Sevens team down at the Olympic Training Center. What was that like and who were your teammates at that time? Who were you living with, I should say, at that time? Dev: Boy. Yeah. 2012 when they first put us into residency in the first [3:10 ???] program, it was crazy. I decided not to go back to college for my fifth year and finished my schooling online to go out and pursue the dream of making the Olympics and be able in time to be a professional athlete. I wouldn’t take any of it back, but it was an incredible experience. Eight of us, it started with seven and then moved to eight people, basically all up everything we had and we moved to San Diego in one house. So it was technically a three-bedroom house, but we put eight people in there. In the master bedroom Kimber, Verzer, rojer and I shared it. We made a wall with a sheet. Dowdy lived in a loft. Pheonicia had her own room, Julian Potter probably took the brunt of it all and lived basically in a common area. We put up sheets for her walls. Kelly Griffin was there. Booey was there. Kelly Mungstrum. Yeah. It was quite the group of people, and Natalie Martino, [4:10 ???] Raegan Birg, so yeah it was quite a bit of us and we took a leap of faith to join the first ever program, and it’s incredible to see what the program’s become today. Mollie: Yeah, I remember those awesome sheet walls. Quite the house, but you guys pulled through, and obviously there wasn’t much funding there, so it was kind of what you had to deal with to be there. Dev: It was good. It was a good experience, for sure. Mollie: Alright, now, what is your favorite rugby position? You’ve played a few, but… Dev: I did. I really liked, I guess, my favorite probably was either 13 or 9. 13 I liked a lot because of the feeling that you get of having a teammate put you through a gap and just running down an open field and just slicing was incredible. I really liked open field tackling. I love that about being an outside center. And then later in my career I moved in a little bit and took the role of scrum half, and that was a really great challenge for me mentally and physically because it forced me to be more aware of the game to be able to become more of a student, to know the laws, to find people’s strengths and weaknesses, yeah, and so being a scrum half was really fun, and I still love it to this day. Mollie: I feel like you studied film, like, hours every day, just to learn the game. Dev: I did. I think … yeah, when I threw my ACL right before the 2017 World Cup, I tore it probably about a year before the World Cup, and tried my best to make it physically, but knew that in the downtime, the best way to become a better player was to watch film. So I think if I had taken that lesson earlier in my life, it probably would have worked out for me a little bit better, but I’m really glad I took the opportunity while I was recovering from my ACL surgery to watch a lot of film and learn a lot so when I came back to try and make the team, I could hit the ground running and prove that I made some time out of all of my downtime. Mollie: Yeah, absolutely, well it paid off. Alright, now who is your favorite rugby player of all times? It could be somebody you played with, somebody you appreciate watching on the field, guy, girl. Dev: Yeah, a favorite player of all times. I think, um, it might be Julia Potter. Julia was an incredible teammate. She challenged you mentally and physically on and off the field. She was a great friend, and I think her resilience, and her ability to work literally until you drop on the floor just always impressed me. I mean, Julia is a fighter in all aspects of life, and I think just her passion and watching how much passion she puts onto the field just makes you want to be a better player and person. I think it’s a Julia Potter. Mollie: Yeah, absolutely. Well. It kind of ties into my next question, which I think you might say that she is the most positive teammate you’ve ever played with. Or do you have any others? Who would they be? Dev: Yeah, I think probably Julia Potter, and then probably Kelly Griffin. Griff was always kind of the Griffendore of our team. She was a very critical thinker, and 100% always put the team first. And that was something to really look up to in a teammate and a friend and a roommate at the time. I’d say that Kelly Griffin was an incredible teammate and it was great to follow her lead. Mollie: yeah, two wonderful people for sure! Switching gears a little bit, what do you do now for training compared to before quarantine life? I know that you kinda switched gears from playing rugby to refereeing. So, what have you been doing training wise during these last few months? Dev: During the last few months when the parks were open, and I have some space to run. I kinda utilize all of the 7s and 15s trainings and workouts I’ve done previously. A lot of shuttle runs, up downs, sprints like jumping and whatnot. Yeah, I transition into like a referee focus. That’s also been really challenging mentally and physically to be fit and also be able to think critically under pressure. Yeah, so I think while I transitioned out from being more of a player playing at the international level trying to raise the bars a referee, I’m able to utilize all of those training skills as a referee which is really great! Mollie: yeah. That’s really awesome! Rugby has never been 100% your job. You know, it was for a little bit. You always had some side hustles. What do you do now for work, how do you pay your bills? Dev: yeah. So, right now I work at the children’s hospital in San Diego. I’m a clinical informaticist, so I help support the electronical medical record system at our hospital. I specifically help the emergency department run. So. It’s really great role. I enjoy it. The people are awesome. Helping kids get out of the hospital quicker and helping physicians and nurses do their job. It’s really nice. My leadership has been incredible working with me to support my goals on and off the field. I could not be more thankful for my managers and directors who have let me take a leave of absents. Prior to the Rugby World Cup and compete in that. So, I really appreciate all of their support because not everyone is this lucky to have bosses like that. Mollie: yeah. That’s awesome. What’s your favorite pre or post workout or game or training session meal? Dev: pre workout meal. I would try to keep it light. I’ve always had 2 eggs for breakfast every morning and then I’ll go work out. Afterwards typically just trying to eat chicken and sweet potatoes and I’ve learned how to eat a lot of roasted vegetables, which has been really great for post recoveries. It’s not just like a lot of white carbs and whatnot. You can be a little more creative in how you get your carbs and fuels. Mollie: yeah. That’s great. Do you have any mental suggestions for rugby players right now? How have you been staying positive and kept a driving force the last couple months during quarantine? Dev: yeah! I think we need to stay positive. I mean, we live in America, it’s a crazy time and we have a lot of things going on. I think just knowing that in America to have running water is something that other countries don’t have at all, to have a roof over out head, to have a shower, to have a refrigerator, to even have grocery stores. They might not have toilet paper all the time but they are going to have foods. They might not have everything but how lucky are we to have a country that we can still have a roof over our head and running water. When you compare yourself to others who have much more harder times, like just putting yourself into perspective. I live here in Sandy, San Diego and I am very fortunate and I remind myself everyday of that. I think that just setting your standards and knowing that here in America we have a lot to appreciative of. Eventually we will get back to some kind of normality. Mollie: yeah. Absolutely. Love that! Keep it up. Now, what song artists or music genre pumps you up the most to workout, to train before a big Rugby game? Dev: oh man. Mollie: what do you listen to before your workouts? Dev: yeah! I think you could ask a lot of my teammates that when we train at the Olympic Training Center we always have control over the radio which blasts while we are doing our workouts. I would never be mad to blast some good old country music. Some people it might not be your biggest thing but I think that being in a good mood, country music to me puts you in a good mood. So, when you are working out you want to feel all the good vibes. I’ll just out on some, I don’t know. Just find anything on a good country station. And blast it! Mollie: I had a feeling you’d say that. Alright so, wrapping up here a little bit. What don’t people know about you? What do we not know about you? Dev: I don’t know. I think I’m an ok person. Not too exciting or out there. I do have… I’m the youngest of 4 kids and I have… if I was going to pick any group of friends to hang out with in the world, I would definitely pick my siblings. I think they are the coolest people out there. Yeah. My family means the world to me and they’re the most incredible people that I could’ve ever ask for to have in my life. Mollie: that’s awesome. Last question. Do you remember when and where we first met? Putting you on the spot here. Dev: Mollie and I first met I think in Florida at Tiger Town. Probably in 2009 maybe, 2010. At a USA rugby camp. And from there it’s been, I don’t know. What, almost over 10 years of rugby journeys together, a lot of experiences around the world. Mollie: rainbows, butterflies, and sparkles. Huh? Dev: yeah! It’s been awesome. Mollie: well Dev, thank you so much for joining me today. We really appreciate it. Stay strong out there. Enjoy the sun for the rest of the world. Dev: yeah! Will do.

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