Stepping into the main stadium of the 2011 Pacific Games in New Caledonia, then-college freshman Tasi Ada was awestruck by the lights, sounds, and collective excitement of all the athletes.
Surrounded by competitors from Fiji, Samoa, and other Pacific islands, Ada and her teammates were ready to take on the best Rugby players in the region.
“I couldn’t tell you the level of pride I got,” she said. “Everyone is excited to be there and compete. For me, it was life changing.”
One year later, Ada arrived in Taiwan for her first experience as a student representative of Guam at a forum hosted by the International University Sports Federation. That same pride and excitement she felt when meeting athletes from around the world filled the room where other student athletes from every corner of the globe shared experiences, developed professional connections and promoted their countries.
As both an athlete and student representative of the island, Ada, who is majoring in health science with a concentration in exercise science and health promotion and minoring in nutrition, has made it her mission to provide opportunities for both young and old to participate in sports of all kinds and promote health education on Guam.
Playing rugby since 2006 at George Washington High School, Ada quickly rose in the ranks the years following graduation, making a name and place for herself on the Guam Women’s National Rugby Team at the 2011 Pacific Games and again, two years later, when they traveled to Thailand for the Asian Sevens Series.
“I like playing rugby because of the challenge, you know, physically and mentally,” she said, “And also the aspect of team. We’re out there all putting our bodies on the line to move forward and hopefully win the game—that aspect, I love that so much.”
But Ada wanted more.
Pushing herself out of the weight room and into the boardroom, she stepped up to take on administrative positions in multiple organizations—such as the Oceania National Olympic Committee, the Guam National Olympic Committee (GNOC), the Guam Rugby Football Union, the Youth Olympic Games, and the Guam University Sports Association—whose goals are to promote general health and drive the Olympic movement on Guam.
Being involved in these organizations has also given Ada the opportunity to represent not only herself as a student athlete but the island as well in countries like South Korea, Tonga, Australia and Greece.
“Going on an international stage being able to present yourself intelligently versus presenting yourself as an athlete—I saw it as another challenge,” she said. “I saw it as another way to continue to grow myself.”
As the Athlete’s Commission President at the GNOC, Ada was able to merge her passions for health education and her academic studies by organizing the Committee’s first Athlete’s Forum, where students from the University of Guam’s School of Nursing and Health Science educated local athletes on basic nutrition, common health misconceptions and more.
And to reach out to the younger generations, through the Guam Rugby Football Union, Ada helped organize a summer co-ed rugby camp this year for elementary and middle school students at Father Duenas Memorial School.
“Rugby has not been around long on Guam, but it’s huge,” she said. “I know in this region we’re the only ones who have rugby in middle school and full contact in high school. “
Inspired by her professors at UOG, Ada hopes to bring all the knowledge she’ll gain over the next few years back to her soon-to-be alma mater.
“When you have professors who’ve invested a lot in themselves and their education only to help other people, you respect the fact that they’ve literally done all they can to give students the best education possible,” she said. “I want to contribute to the community whether through sports or education.
Until then, Ada plans to go all the way with her education, starting off with applying to graduate schools in the mainland to pursue a master’s degree in exercise science and health promotion but continuing to stay involved with sports along the way.
“I want to continue to remain involved in sports and promoting health,” she said. “If I can go to school and do that, I want to do both.”