International Women's Day: Meet Naya Tapper

Naya Tapper wearing our blackletter dogtag

Hey Naya, tell us about yourself!
I'm Naya Tapper. I was born in Beaufort, SC but raised in Charlotte, NC. I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel hill where I received my bachelors degree in sports medicine. I currently live in San Diego, CA and I play for the USA Women’s rugby sevens team! I am currently training towards making the 2021 Tokyo Olympics team! 

Who was your favorite role model growing up?
My favorite role model growing up was my mother. She showed me what it meant to be strong, brave, and independent. She was a very hard worker and got things done for herself and my siblings when it seemed impossible to do so. She was a provider. She made sure we had the things we wanted. Regardless of the situation we were in, we never went without. I have to thank her for that. She had always supported me in everything I’ve chosen to do. I believe that her support gave me the confidence I have today to speak for myself and to be 100% who I am. She stands up for herself and doesn’t let anything or anyone hold her back from success. I admire her and hope my future children will see those same characteristics in me. 


What is one thing you simply can't live without?
One thing I can’t live without is my Burt’s bees chapstick. I’ve been using this brand for the last 5 years and my lips have become very accustomed and dependent on them. I probably travel with 2-3 of them no matter if I’m heading to the grocery store or flying to Spain. I have tried all the flavors! My favorite is the coconut scent!

 Naya Tapper

What's your favorite quote and why?
My favorite quote is that “Everything happens for a reason”. This is my favorite quote because it has allowed me to maintain a positive mindset on life regardless of my situation. It has allowed me to let go of things I can’t control. It gives me peace of mind!


Describe your daily routine?
I am very OCD so my schedule doesn’t vary much from day to day by choice. I usually wake up and jump on my phone to check emails and messages. I then put some music on and get up to fix my bed and open up the rest of the house. I then brush my teeth and freshen up. I put on my clothes that I have set out the night before and grab my backpack for the training day. I head to work for the next 7 hours, working out, eating, and hanging out with my teammates while also getting things posted on my social media accounts. When the work day is over, I come home and unpack. I also get my things ready for the next day before I jump in the shower. After showering I grab one of my prep meals I had prepared a couple days before and pop it in the microwave. I eat dinner with a glass of kombucha every night while watching the office or shark tank! For the rest of the evening I relax on the couch, talk on the phone,  snack and run through my social media until it’s time to get ready for bed. I put some music on and brush my teeth then hop in bed. I then read a book and pass out for the night! The next day I do the same things all over again!


How does being an athlete make a better person?
Being an athlete teaches you discipline, confidence, and how to interact with people. It teaches you to dream and goal set! From experience, having all these characteristics creates a pretty dope human being. You are able to meet amazing people, accomplish crazy goals, spread love and good influence, and help others in many ways. Being an athlete opens your mind and allows you to be more understandable. I think these traits definitely make a better person. Someone who cares about themselves but also about others!


Tell us about your connection to jewelry?
Growing up, my grandmothers on both my parents sides loved jewelry. They had different styles when it came to the pieces they had but everything they had was so beautiful. I have a Puerto Rican grandmother that had a lot of gold jewelry; Big hoops and lots of earrings and necklaces. I believe this is where I gained my love for gold jewelry with a Spanish flare. I also have a Jamaican grandmother that had a lot of colorful jewelry. She had every color stone of jewelry you could think of. She would gift me and my sisters jewelry on our birthdays and I’ve kept them since. From her I gained a love for green and blue stoned jewelry as well as a couple silver pieces thrown into my wardrobe every now and then! Since then, I’ve been building my own collection that I hope to one day pass down to my children and grandchildren. 


Have you ever experienced any kind of negativity because you're a professional female sports player?
I have ran into older women that questioned my capability to play a contact sport. One time in Dubai a older white lady told me and some of my teammates that she wasn’t going to watch us play rugby; that she’d only be watching the men. Take that comment how you want, but it definitely wasn’t a compliment to us as female rugby players. Older women are weirdly the main ones that don’t agree with a women playing such a “rough” sport. I say weirdly because I’m sure they lived in a time where woman probably weren’t allowed to play a sport no different in rules to the guys, especially a contact sport. You would think they’d be proud to see times changing and women showing that we have the same strengths and bravery as men but most of the time it’s not the case. I don’t take it personal though. I understand that they grew up with a certain mindset about how woman are supposed to behave. But I am here to hopefully change that for them one women at a time! 


What's your favorite song right now?
My favorite song at the moment is Gravity by Brent Faiyaz, DJ Dani, and Tyler The Creator. 


What message of empowerment do you have for younger girls reading this?
Be confident in who you are regardless of the critics because no matter how good you are doing in life, there will always be critics. Stay true to yourself regardless of who’s around and believe in yourself even when others don’t. You can change the world and accomplish the impossible if you do so.


What is your relationship to your femininity, being a professional sports player?
It’s the strongest connection I have. Whether I’m on the field playing rugby or at home playing dress up before heading out for a girls night out, I’m always expressing my femininity. I love the idea that I can be rough, beautiful, outspoken, strong, and soft all in one. I love showing that in our world of stereotypes, you can be whatever you want to be; that you don’t have to fit in a box people have made for women. I believe I break that stereotype and I’m proud about it. I hope that on a daily basis I’m showing younger girls in the world that being strong, muscular, and sporty is a beautiful and women like thing! My inspiration for this mindset is Serena Williams. She has showed me strong and beautiful are one in the same.