Hometown:Cambridge, New Zealand
Favorite team:Wellington Hurricanes
Sports hero:Zinzan Brooke, played N.Z. pro rugby for 10 years
Nonsports hero: Sir Edmund Hillary, first person to climb Everest
The NewsNet athlete of the week, Kalem Nordstrom of Cambridge, New Zealand, has rugby running through his veins.
Nordstrom”s father played for the Wellington Hurricanes. He even worked for the New Zealand rugby union, coaching coaches. He still coaches the rugby team at Church College, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Nordstrom”s five brothers and one sister all play. One brother plays professionally, and another plays semi-professional rugby.
Nordstrom”s childhood rugby memories are scampering barefoot across frosty blades of grass since he was 4 years old.
New Zealand is religious about their rugby. Every Saturday morning, the only noise that can be heard is on the fields. Everything shuts down. Everyone is playing, coaching, or supporting rugby, Nordstrom said.
Nordstrom”s position was last man down (forward), until everyone outgrew him. He then took the position he plays for BYU fly/center at No. 8., a position similar to the quarterback position in football.
On his way home from his mission in Calgary, Canada, Nordstrom stopped by BYU with his parents. His dad was helping with rugby camps in Denver. When the family went to see a BYU rugby game, the team let Nordstrom play in the game and invited him to come to BYU and play.
“I was surprised they actually played rugby here, to be honest, the only reason that I know is because Highland High School”s rugby coach told me,” Nordstrom said.
“I went back to New Zealand and worked at the Missionary Training Center in Cambridge teaching, to save up my pennies to come to BYU,” Nordstrom said. He played for a rookie provincial team while he was home.
“I came purely for school … well the sport too, it was an added incentive that planted the thought to come to BYU,” he said. He continues to teach missionaries in the Provo MTC in the English language. “Teaching there provides a nice balance to my life,” Nordstrom said.
“Kalem brings a lot of experience to the team and gives a lot of the younger guys confidence,” assistant coach, Jared Bullock, said.
“He is unpredictable on the field, which is an advantage in rugby because you want to change and manipulate what is happening on the field. If you”re predictable then the defense picks up on it,” Bullock said.
Nordstrom is working for a degree in international business and hopes to get a U.S. law degree next. Coaching may be in his future as well.
“If I ever stayed up here I would love to get a hold of a university and develop a rugby team,” Nordstrom said.