Seattle Saracens’ prop forward, Olive “Ollie” Kilifi has been a part of the Seattle Rugby family for quite some time.
His dedication to the game and the values that are associated with rugby in the community are a driving force behind his quality of play and who he has become. We were able to sit down with Olive as he told us a bit about his rugby experiences and how he’s been able to get his family involved in the game.
Kilifi first got into the game through being immersed in the culture of his Polynesian roots. Seeing the game on TV and hearing his family talk about rugby showed him what the game was all about. As a kid, Olive would go with his family to watch his father play.
First dipping his toe into playing the sport at age 12, Ollie played for the West Seattle Stormers, a youth team for Old Puget Sound Beach (OPSB). Getting noticed as a quality player, he was selected to the Pacific Northwest Loggers, a representative team that plays on the national stage. Joining up with his friends in the West Seattle/White Center area, rugby was a place where Kilifi could keep out of trouble and solidify bonds with his teammates.
Olive credits his family with being a monumental cornerstone to his success. They have been understanding and supportive to him reaching his goals. “I try to do my best each day to improve and my family is a big part of that journey with me. I couldn’t do it without them.”.
Finding a great amount of inspiration from his mother, she made him realize that he can do much more with his life that he had been given. That no matter a person’s beginning, they have the complete power and control of where they want to end up. Continuing to carry her advice with him after her passing in 2013 from liver cancer, Olive was driven to serve others by doing missionary work in Edmonton, Canada. A brief pause in his rugby playing career, Kilifi continued to grow his rugby family by meeting new friends whilst on this journey.
After two years Olive returned home to the Seattle area and was soon after married. He’s grown his own little rugby family with 5 children. As if being a family man and an elite rugby player wasn’t enough, Olive works full-time and has been finishing school as well.
Growing up in a large Polynesian family, one would expect that Olive couldn’t have been the only rugby player to come out of the Kilifi home. Two of Olive’s sisters, Caroline and Luana have picked up the game and currently play for the University of Washington Women’s Rugby Team. This being their first year playing rugby, Luana and Caroline were initially volleyball players as well as competing in track and field. Luana is also an accomplished wrestler, as she was able to make it to the state championships. Olive thinks that his involvement in the rugby community was part of their motivation to take up rugby. Watching their brother play and seeing him train and work out showed them the lifestyle that a rugby player of his caliber leads.
As rugby rapidly grows in the Pacific Northwest and the US, there is more interest in the game than ever before. Olive feels that with the Seattle MLR professional team, Seattle Seawolves, as well as the powerhouse feeder program from the Seattle Saracens, young athletes will and can aspire to be great in rugby.
There is now a clear pathway for players to move through the ranks and be at the very top levels of the game. Inspired by the progress that rugby has made Kilifi said; “There is no doubt in my mind that from this model, it will funnel our best athletes to eventually represent our country as USA Eagles.”
Like many of the players for Seattle Saracens, he is employed by one of the club's sponsors, a local company who also supports his rugby journey and the club's community programs. The club is also family.
From his humble roots to Seattle Saracen, to US Eagle and professional rugby player, Olive Kilifi and his family will never be far from a rugby field. Continuing to train and play in Seattle, the Kilifi family looks forward to be an integral part in growing the game to where they believe it can be.
US Eagle Olive Kilifi lets the Samoans know he's ready!
Ollie volunteering with Seattle Saracens at a Special Olympics event
The Kilifi family