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

 

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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…