Los Alamitos High School phenom lands Team USA rugby contract

It takes most people decades to achieve their dreams, if they can achieve them at all. For one Los Alamitos High School student, it only took until her senior year. 

Sariah Ibarra made history this past March when she became the first female high school athlete to sign a professional rugby contract with the USA Women’s National Rugby team.

“It’s a privilege. I think it’s such a blessing to be able to display my talents and where I come from at such a young age,” Ibarra said. “I was brought up to not give up, to always have grit and determination in whatever I do…”

Despite the age gap between her and her new teammates, Ibarra is more than up for the challenge. After all, hard work is what’s brought her to this point. Five days a week, Ibarra alternates between strength training and conditioning, a regimen fit for a professional athlete. 

Moving to New Zealand and attending Hamilton Girls’ High School for a year also helped prepare her for a professional sports career. Living away from her family for the first time taught Ibarra to be more independent, something she will have to get used to as she travels around the world with Team USA. The one thing she hated about living on the island? There wasn’t a single Chick-fil-A in the entire country. 

Her dedication to her craft and obvious talent also attracted the likes of Harvard, Dartmouth and Princeton to name a few, all offering full-ride scholarships. Choosing between universities was difficult enough, but when Team USA came calling, her decision became that much harder. 

A week long training session with the USA Eagles however helped make up her mind.

“Knowing how strongly she [Team USA coach] felt about my abilities, I just felt that I could be that next wave, that next example to younger girls that their dream is possible at a young age,” Ibarra explained. “How could I not accept it?”

Knowing that the team will also help with her college education sealed the deal the for Ibarra and her family, who provided support throughout the entire process.

“My parents are my rock,” Ibarra said. “They support me in whatever I do, and they just want me to be happy.”

Ibarra also mentioned how Los Alamitos High School has been flexible throughout this entire process filled with numerous rugby games, training sessions and camps. Principal Christiana Kraus reflected on her superstar student’s accolades. 

“As a principal, seeing our students achieve their dreams fills me with immense pride and reinforces the importance of nurturing their potential beyond the classroom,” Kraus said. “Sariah’s success not only reflects her individual achievement but also serves as an inspiration to her peers, showcasing the unlimited possibilities that await with hard work and determination. We are truly proud of Sariah!”

After Ibarra’s graduation in June, she will look to compete with Team USA this December in the HSBC World Rugby Seven Series located in Dubai and eventually in the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.