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This past weekend at the USA 7s had a special meaning for Nu’u’ Punimata, as the Eahles 7s player also was promoted to Sergeant in the US Army.

The promotion ceremony was held on the field on Thursday.

“We did it right after our captain’s run,” Punimata said. “It was a bit of a surprise for me. I knew I was supposed to bring my uniform, which I did. I can’t describe what it means to have veterans come out to promote me, and Major Wags (Tom Wagner, the team manager) with my family and my teammates, it was great.”

Punimata first joined the USA team after his strong performance for Old Puget Sound Beach in the 2010 National Club 7s Championships. He played into 2012 but was felled by injury. After that, Punimata enlisted in the Army National Guard, and is now part of the US Army’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP). He returned to the Eagles under that program this season.

“I am fortunate to be back,” said Punimata, whose father, former longtime Army man Nic, helped coach the Armed Forces teams at the Las Vegas Invitational. “The boys are really starting to buy in with what Coach Hawkins is putting out for us. He’s trained us hard to execute his game plan, and the team chemistry overall is fantastic.”