Ep59 NAYA TAPPER Professional Rugby, USA Women's Eagles Sevens Team


This week I’m very happy to introduce rugby superstar Naya Tapper who was recently named the all time top try scorer for the USA Women's Eagles Sevens Team. As she said in Ep59, "I’m fast, powerful, and I’m hard to take down, so that’s kind of a try scoring machine, if you think about it."
Naya is originally from North Carolina and attended UNC, where she began her rugby career in 2012. She began playing for the USA Women's Eagles in 2016 and currently resides in Chula Vista, California, where she trains at the Olympic Training Center with the USA Rugby team. 
Naya began her athletic life as a sprinter so transitioning to rugby required learning how to work with a bunch of other super star athletes and how to play with a ball. As I mentioned to Naya, it never occurred to me I could work on improving my eye-hand coordination (which really is not my strength).  Naya reveals that she uses special eye-hand coordination glasses! What!? Yes. I love that. I love really specialized sporty tools. Take a listen to the episode to find out what they are all about.
Another standout portion of the conversation was Naya’s hesitation and answer to my feminine-side question. Relistening while editing made me feel old by even asking the question. Like what is a feminine side? Having labeled it seemed odd. And yet, the other side of it is her reply: "They have the bows in their hair. They have their finger nails painted. Things like that just to show, yeah I’m a girl, I’m feminine, and I’m playing this rough, amazing sport and I’m kicking ass at it. That’s as good as it gets, I think."
This episode with Naya Tapper is the 3rd rugby episode following Ep12 with Phaidra Knight and Ep47 with Hannah Hall and Laelae Mituanai of the YSU Rugby Team. I spoke with Phaidra almost 2 years ago so it’s particularly interesting to compare what she and Naya say about the growth of the sport and about tactics in rugby sevens.

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Keep Listening,
Elizabeth Emery