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Whitefish community comes together to cheer on their Olympian in Nicole Heavirland

Tokyo Olympics Rugby
Posted at 12:18 AM, Jul 30, 2021

UPDATE (7-30-2021, 5:30 AM): Team USA fell to Great Britain in the quarterfinal round of the tournament on Friday morning, losing 21-12.

Team USA will play China in a 5th through 8th placing match on Friday evening.

ORIGINAL (7-29-2021, 11:58 PM): Over 700 million people from all around the world have watched the Olympic Games this year. And by the looks of the Bulldog Saloon on Thursday evening, it looks like close to 7,700 of those viewers are the population of Whitefish as a large group of family and friends gathered to cheer on their Olympian in local standout Nicole Heavirland.

"I see the hardest worker I know, I see the most gracious person I've ever met," said Ryan Heavirland, Nicole's brother. "She's really turned into something amazing, someone to look up to."

Heavirland, who grew up in Whitefish and attended Glacier High School in Kalispell, is representing the United States in this years Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, with the Team USA woman’s sevens rugby team. She was a star athlete in the Treasure State, and is now looking to add a gold medal to her list of accomplishments on the world's biggest stage.

"She's just a gym rat, she'll pick up a ball she'll play all day long," said Mike Brazinsky, Heavirland's high school rugby coach. "She's eager to learn. She works harder than anybody I've ever seen."

The world is learning her story right now and proud of her for representing her country, but no one is more proud than her family on how she is representing their name.

"I can't even express it in words how proud we are," said Carmen Heavirland, Nicole's mother. "She's worked so hard, just as the entire team has."

"She has always been a little voice in my head that always kind of pushed me and she didn't even have to really say anything, it's just through her actions," added Nicole's brother, Taylor.

But for those at the Bulldog Saloon and in the community, they've known her story way before she was an Olympian.

"She was always about the toughest one we had on the team, willing to do anything, go to any length, worked as hard or harder than anybody out there," said Brazinsky.

Heavirland and the rest of the women's sevens rugby team finished off their pool play with a win over Australia 14-12 on Thursday evening. The win gave them a perfect 3-0 record to win their pool and advance to the quarterfinal round. Heavirland scored four points, going 2 for 2 on conversions, to give her 10 points through three games after going 5 for 5 on conversion attempts so far at the Tokyo Olympics.

Team USA opened the Olympics with wins over China and Japan. They will take on Great Britain at 3:30 a.m. Mountain Time on Friday morning in the quarterfinal round.