Naya Tapper On The Fast Track To Greatness In Rugby
Naya Tapper didn’t know much about rugby until her freshman year at the University of North Carolina. She wandered by a booth that was promoting the club team on campus and she was immediately hooked.
“Rugby incorporates so many different skills. There’s kicking, tackling, and passing all wrap into one game,” she told The Scrum. “It includes skills that come from basketball, soccer, baseball, with hand-eye coordination, making a tackle or improving your footwork when you are trying to evade somebody.”
Tapper has been able to avoid a lot of defenders on the pitch. She was a former track star in high school and has used her blazing speed to become the all-time try leader in USA women’s rugby sevens.
“So, my first time playing sevens, I was like ‘this is the perfect sport for me’ because they were asking me to beat somebody one-on-one over 20 meters and I can do that all day,” Tapper told Line Today.
Tapper’s goal was to play in the Olympics, but that was put on hold because of the global pandemic. She is a big part of the rugby community and makes sure to give back to it.
“I started my own rugby camp for females only to create a safe space for women to learn, grow, and enjoy rugby,” said on Reddit.com.” I do monthly giveaways to my supporters as a way to thank them for being with me through my rugby journey. I play to empower not only myself, but the women and girls watching.”
Tapper is using her platform in sports to talk about social issues and has been deeply affected by the Black Lives Matter movement.
“It’s empowering. It feels good not to have to go at it alone,” she said in a radio with WISP Sports. “With so many friends, athletes, and co-workers who are black and support it is great. It makes you feel a lot more comfortable speaking out. In the past there was always a hesitancy in showing my blackness. Now, it’s if you don’t like it, then you don’t like it. I’m not going to stop.”