Former CNMI national football player Michah Griffin has turned professional albeit for a different sport after making it to the Old Glory DC roster of Major League Rugby.
“I’ve joined Old Glory DC which is a professional team in Major League Rugby. This will be Old Glory’s third season in the league as rugby grows as the fastest-growing team sport in the States,” he said in a social media message to Saipan Tribune.
Griffin, who is the son of former CNMI women’s national football team player Elisa Long and the brother of CNMI women’s national football player Gianna Griffin, had to earn his spurs to be elevated to Old Glory DC’s professional team.
“I was selected to join Old Glory’s U23 academy as a development player and based on my performance with them I was brought on to the first team for the upcoming season this February.”
The 24-year-old software developer for a financial services company suited up for the Blue Ayuyus in the first round of the 2016 East Asian Football Federation’s East Asian Cup in 2016.
That team was coached by Kiyoshi Sekiguchi and among Griffin’s teammates were Jehn Joyner, Enrico Del Rosario, Hunter Jewell, Sunjoon Tenorio, and Chris Aninzo.
Griffin said he still has some goosebumps when he remembers donning the CNMI’s colors during that tournament.
“My very first time pulling on the kit and hearing the anthem was a special moment I will never forget, but slotting my first international goal against Macau from the penalty spot was pure joy! I will always treasure it,” he said.
The former Saipan International School student said he shifted to rugby when he went to college at Georgetown University.
“I learned rugby from my classmates and teammates at the Georgetown University Rugby Club and quickly fell in love. I found the game so similar to soccer in so many ways. The constant stream of action and the beautiful intricacy of the tactics. Soccer prepared me so well to be successful in rugby and with my teammates’ help and my dedication to learning everything I could about the game I was able to succeed.”
Griffin added he’d love to finish his first season playing in the MLR with nothing less than a championship.
“My goal is to do all that I can to make sure our captain Thretton Palamo is lifting the MLR championship trophy on June 25.”
Asked who he wants to thank for his achievements in rugby, Griffin said all his success is due to his teammates, friends, family, and partner Camille.
“They have supported me and my dreams of making it to this level. They did everything possible to allow me to focus on growing my game and I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Griffin may now be a professional rugby player, but he vows that he’ll continue to suit up for the Blue Ayuyus if ever his number is called.
“I’m hoping to return to play again this summer with the men’s national team once the MLR season concludes. I also miss my friends and teammates dearly. In fact, the sunset BBQs on Pau Pau I think about once a day,” he said.