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Former NSU Spartan Gray parlays career from hoops to rugby pitch

It was a turn of fate for Jaz Gray as a fitness trainer when a client gave her an offer that caused her to ultimately be a member of the U.S.A. Rugby team.

Jaz Gray was all about school and hoops during her time on the Norfolk State Spartan women's basketball team. She would parlay her degree into being a fitness trainer out of the San Diego, California area. Then a turn of fate.

"One of my clients was in the gym and he was working out" she said. "He was like, you're strong. You're fast, like you should come out and play rugby".

Rugby? She admitted at the time, she hadn't even heard of the sport, but figured why not? Gray always enjoyed a similar game in football with her older brother and dad when they were children. Later it was flag football as she was wrapping up her degree at NSU. 

After some prodding from her client, "I just went out there and I don't know. It just happened like that", she said. "I started playing and I couldn't even tell you. I just kept coming back."

From there it led her to playing for a club team that went on to the national championship. Gray would get invited to try out for the USA Women's Rugby team and would ultimately be asked to play fulltime. Mind you in basketball where she was a guard at just 5-4, it worked perfectly for rugby. 

"I never really saw my height like a disadvantage", she said. "If anything it's an advantage, because people have to get lower to tackle me."

In fact its made her flourish in the sport the past three and a half years. At age 29, she feels like she could go for a while, given her late start. "Right now I'm feel like I could go until I'm 40-45." Is Gray trying to be like a certain current 7-time Super Bowl champion quarterback? "Yeah, I'm going to try and be like the Tom Brady of rugby. We'll see."

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