Alumna Profile: Kelly Griffin

Name (plus any rugby nickname(s)):  Kelly “Griff” Griffin

Hometown:  Berkeley, CA
Position(s) played:  all

When did you play for the All Blues?  2008-2011

When did you start playing for the Eagles?  First WNT camp in 2009.

Photo courtesy of Kelly Griffin

Griff started playing rugby in 2004, during her first year at UCLA.  Having played basketball and soccer in high school, she wanted to continue being an athlete and being part of a team. She “immediately loved the sport and the people.”  After college, she moved back home and decided to play for the All Blues, knowing it was “the best team in the country at that time.”  She was very excited to play with “so many amazing ruggers,” one of whom was Blair Pasut, a college classmate.  Griff called her up and asked when practice was and joined the team. As an All Blue, one of her memorable moments was doing the skits and songs during her rookie year.  According to her, one of the best was a rugby remake of “A Whole New World” from Aladdin. (Editor’s note: Thanks to Katie Chou's excellent record keeping, we can share the lyrics with you. It's at the end of this article.)

Griff came to play for the Eagles through hard work and making her presence known.  “I did lots of extra workouts and skill sessions and kept showing up to camps and tryouts,” writes Griff.  She attended her first women’s national team camp in 2009, when it was also announced that 7s rugby would be included in the 2016 Olympic games. In 2012 she, along with seven others, became the first residents at the Olympic Training Center at Chula Vista (fellow All Blues Vix Folayan and Nathalie Marchino would join them a year later).  While training there, Griff helped her team earn bronze at the 2013 IRB Rugby World Cup Sevens, and silver at the Pan American games in 2015.  She also captained the Eagles to a fifth-place finish at the 2016 Olympics, which included a draw with defending World Rugby Women's Sevens Series Champion Australia, and a very exciting, close game against New Zealand.

Photo courtesy of Kelly Griffin

Asked about how her life is like outside of training, Griff says she is “currently trying to figure out a new life-rugby-work balance.”  Since she is no longer in fulltime residency at the OTC, she’s trying to find a “flexible job that will allow [her] to continue to train, support [her] family and be a start to a career.”  She’s pretty excited about the World Series that’s starting up again in December.  She recommends watching the whole series “because all the tournaments are exciting!”

  

Get to know Griff some more!

ABM: What is the best advice you have ever received about playing rugby?

KG: Run away from the fullback after a linebreak.

 

ABM: By which Olympic player were you most starstruck by in Rio?

KG: Tamika Catchings

 

ABM: What is your favorite non-rugby activity?

KG: Baking

 

--------------------

From the All Blues Caroling Book, from Griff’s rookie year

(Courtesy Katie Chou)

To the tune of “A Whole New World”:

 

I can show you to scrum

Crouch, touch, pause and engage

Tell me, All Blues, now when did

You last do your squats for glut strength?

 

I can open your eyes

Give you excellent field vision

Overs, unders and inserts

In a magic fluid game

 

A whole new game

A new fantastic way to play

No one to stop us here

Or anywhere

Or say we're not the champs

 

A whole new game

And dazzling plays we never knew

And when we communicate

And come up straight,

We connect to commit to defense here with you

Now we're playing defense here with you

 

Unbelievable runs

Indescribable tackles

Scrumming, rucking, and mauling

In a fast pace moving game

 

(Backs) A whole new game

(Forwards) Don't you dare knock it on

(Backs) A hundred thousand plays to run

(Forwards) Don't you dare knock it on

(Backs) I'm like a shooting dart

(Forwards) I've run so far and can't make it back to where I'm supposed to be

 

A whole new game

A new fantastic way to play

No one to stop us here

Or anywhere

Or say we're not the champs

A whole new game

And dazzling plays we never knew

And when we communicate

And come up straight,

 

And let us share this whole new game with you…

 

Sonia Presents: A Plyometric Workout!

This is a plyometrics work out that focuses mainly on the lower body and core, but has a little bit of arms snuck in.

Plyometric exercises develop explosive power through the combination of speed and strength.  They also tend to be hard, so you can get a great workout in a short amount of time.  This work out is not recommended for the beginning of a training program.  You should always begin a training program with controlled (not explosive) movements, and gradually work up to explosive work once you have a solid form and strength baseline.  Happy improving! 

2 (or 3!) sets of the following:

*For exercises not done in place, complete over 20 meters:

·         FROG JUMPS – two-legged jumps for distance (walk back to start, repeat for 3 lengths total)

·         POWER HOPS – place hands behind head and explode upwards as high as possible in place (10 reps)

·         LATERAL JUMPS FOR DISTANCE – keep hips forward and butt low, explode sideways NOT up, walk back to start, repeat for two lengths per leg

·         STAR JUMPS – you must say “I’m a star” with each jump or it doesn’t count, touch your toes each time (10 reps)

·         ALTERNATING LUNGE JUMPS – start in a lunge with both knees at 90 degrees, explode vertically upward, switch feet and land in a lunge with the other leg in front (10 reps per side = 20 total jumps)

·         BURPEES – chest to the ground, get up as fast as possible! Jump for height! (10 reps)

 

STRETCH! Do not neglect your hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, groin/adductors, or pecs!

Player Profile: Elena Edwards

Name (plus any rugby nickname(s)): Elena "E" Edwards

Hometown: Akron, Ohio
Position(s) played: Wing and occasionally Prop

All Blues since: 2012

Photo credit: Facebook

ABM: How did you find out about us (i.e. what/who got you to come to your first AB practice?)
E: I googled rugby teams in the Bay Area and the All Blues looked to be the most competitive and challenging team.

 

ABM: How did you first start playing rugby?  What got you into it?

E: There was a school announcement for it my freshman year of high school. I had nothing better to do at the time. It was the biggest challenge I had ever faced and I got yelled at more than I had ever been yelled at before. Somehow that resonated with me…


ABM: Do you have a philosophy/mindset when you practice and play rugby?  How do you get into “the zone”?

E: We used to have a “beautiful day” stretch in high school. Basically it was an excuse to lay on the ground for two minutes and do nothing, but I use it now to clear my mind before games.

 

ABM: What is your best memory, thus far, as an All Blue?  What do you like most about being on this team?
E: My best memory was my first year playing when we won the National Championship title. It was such a great feeling to work your butt off all season and really come together as a team when it counted.

Photo credit: Facebook

ABM: What do you like to do when you’re not playing rugby?

E: When am I not playing rugby?? I like to sneak in a book or painting/drawing on my one day off a year.

 

ABM: What is one interesting fact about the position you play that most people wouldn’t know off the bat?

E: There is a lot of pressure being a wing.

 

ABM: Do you know any poems by heart?

E: I hate poetry

 

ABM: Go-to-karaoke jam (or pump up song)?

E: Gin n Juice

 

 

All Blues Player Awarded Residency in Chula Vista

Bulou Mataitoga at flyhalf, challenging the Raptors defense.

Bulou Mataitoga at flyhalf, challenging the Raptors defense.

We would like to congratulate current All Blues player Bulou Mataitoga for being offered a residency at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista! Women’s Eagles coach Richie Walker saw her potential during her performance at 7s Nationals just this past summer (where she also co-captained the All Blues), then at All Americans camp this past year. Sarah Davis, who helped coach our most recent 7s team, says that Bulou’s “love to tackle” was one of the things that caught Richie Walker’s eye.  Sarah adds that Bulou is “absolutely tenacious at defense...[making] multiple try saving-tackles in one sequence.”  Indeed, Bulou earned a “good teammate play” award for our first game this season for exactly that, preventing ORSU from scoring just a few meters shy of our try line.  

 

But more than Bulou’s technique and work rate as a defender, Sarah says that what makes her special is her “completeness” as a player.  According to her, “[Bulou] has always been a talented finisher, but this year she added the ability to create to her repertoire.  Lastly, her attitude is fantastic. She is really coachable and is really coming into her own as a team leader.”

 

Bulou’s residency runs from October 1st to December 31st.  She plans to balance her residency with playing with the All Blues through Nationals, which is in early November.  For anyone who might be interested in a similar opportunity, Bulou’s advice is “to keep playing with your local club, work hard, and you'll get seen by the coaches at tournaments. And above all else, never stop believing in yourself.”

 

Dollar-for-dollar fundraising campaign (until Nov. 4th)!

This is the letter that our lovely President Phoebe Boone sent us earlier this month.  Our dollar-for-dollar matching campaign will go until November 4th!  Help us raise money for our Player Assistance fund and send deserving players to Nationals--every dollar up to $2500 gets matched thanks to 2 very generous alumnae.  Details on how to donate below! 

Dear All Blues family,

For the next 7 weeks, we have an AMAZING opportunity to fundraise for players who cannot afford to play Premier level rugby. We have an offer from 2 VERY generous alumnae to MATCH any money raised for our Player Assistance fund - up to $2,500. That means EVERY SINGLE DOLLAR you donate from now until November 4th will be MATCHED...We raise $2,500 from you (our alums) and that turns into $5,000(!) because of our 2 generous alumnae. 

As most of you know, playing rugby has gotten significantly more expensive over the years. Every player in the WPL easily spends $1,500 to play every Fall. We do not want a lack of funds to be the reason anyone does not play rugby at the highest level possible with the All Blues. So please, help our players afford those away game flight tickets ($1000)...help our players afford hotels & rental cars at Nationals ($250)...help our players afford their dues ($250).

Every dollar you donate is TAX-DEDUCTIBLE so it's a win-win. You can donate via PayPalto allbluestreasurer@gmail.com (be sure and indicate the payment is for Family & Friends - and write Player Fund in the Notes field). Or you can mail a check (payable to Bay Area Youth Rugby - P.O. Box 8934, 1856 62nd St., Emeryville, CA 94608). Receipts will be provided upon request.

Every donation over $75 gets a NEW All Blues logo t-shirt (and a very nice thank you). I will update you every week with our progress towards that $2,500 goal - but don't wait until the last minute! Donate now and help us get our deserving players on their way to Nationals! (And I will hand deliver your brand spanking new t-shirt).

Thank you,

Phoebe Boone