In Naya Tapper’s family, they had most of the traditional sports covered.
Football? Naya’s older brother. Basketball? Younger sister. Track? Naya herself.
But after coming to Carolina as a Covenant Scholar, Naya introduced rugby into the family’s schedule of sporting events. Already, she’s excelling.
Ever since moving to North Carolina as an eighth grader, Naya had her sights set on attending Carolina. A tour of the campus during her junior year of high school only heightened the appeal.
“It’s so pretty here even when the weather’s bad,” Naya said. “And the environment is just really nice. People told me that everyone here was going to smile at me, no matter what, and that’s exactly how it is.”
But coming from a large family, Naya worried about the debt she or her mom, a single parent, would have to take on. She was worried Carolina might be out of reach.
Learning about the Covenant changed all that.
“The Covenant has been a tremendous help for my family, since I have two sisters who will be entering college in the next few years.”
But that’s not its only benefit. “It’s also allowed me to focus more intently on being a student and experiencing college rather than having to find a way to pay for it.”
That freedom allowed Naya to pursue rugby, a dream since high school, and to find her niche at UNC.
“I’m honestly enjoying Carolina more than I thought I would, and I think rugby’s had a lot to do with that. Being involved in a sport and becoming close with my teammates has meant so much to me—it’s given me a way to fit in here, and I love it.”
She’s good at it, too. Last fall, her coach recommended her to the U.S. Rugby Team, giving Naya a chance to travel to California to practice with the national squad.
“I missed Thanksgiving with my family, but it was worth it! You don’t always get opportunities like that. You have to take them when they come along.”
Ultimately, Naya hopes to continue working with athletes by becoming a physical therapist and owning her own practice. To that end, she’s majoring in Exercise and Sports Science and pursuing a minor in entrepreneurship.
“My coursework is going well, and I’m managing my time better than I thought I would. Time management is really important here, especially when you’re playing a sport and volunteering and trying to take advantage of all the opportunities Carolina provides.”