“Playing rugby has led to opportunities to travel and has also taught me how being disciplined and always trying my best can lead to bigger and better things in life,” said Jakai Bailey. He was introduced to rugby during his sophomore year of high school. After his first season, he participated in a two-day combine in Washington, D.C. sponsored by the Rhinos Rugby Academy. Jakai’s natural athleticism shined, and he was selected for the Rhinos team. As a result, he traveled to California in January 2020 to play in his first tournament with the Rhinos. He was invited back in February 2020 to play with the Rhinos once again, eventually leading to an opportunity to go on tour to South Africa, Portugal, and Orlando, Florida. Unfortunately, the tour was cancelled due to COVID-19. In the fall of 2020, Bailey rebounded and participated in another combine hosted by the MLR’s Old Glory DC. He was one of 25 players selected to the inaugural Old Glory U19 Academy, which helped him further develop his rugby skills and gave him the opportunity to learn from seasoned athletes and coaches.
Jakai graduated from Largo High School in Largo, Maryland. His tremendous work ethic on the field is the product of his hard work and experience in the job force. While balancing rugby and academics, Jakai worked as a court monitor for a local trampoline park and as a cook for McDonald’s. Through this real-world experience, Jakai built up his skills, learning customer relations, problem solving, facility maintenance, and management strategies. “He has been a very strong team member with us, and we are proud to call him a member of our family. Throughout the week during his work shifts, he is here while balancing school and sports. He also commits time on the weekend to work. I look and rely on his leadership and amazing knowledge of his job,” said Donnel Jones, General Manager of Launch Trampoline Park. Jakai will continue his academic and athletic endeavors at Alderson Broaddus University in Philippi, West Virginia. While playing for the Battlers, he will major in sports management with a minor in marketing. Upon the completion of college, he would like to solidify a career as a marketing professional for a professional sports organization.
Jakai’s rugby goals include continuing to excel at the collegiate level and so far, he is off to a great start! “Jakai Bailey is an incredibly gifted young athlete. He is highly competitive and committed to becoming the best player he can be. In his short time at AB, we have seen him grow in his ability to work hard both on and off the field. With his understanding of college rugby quickly growing to match his physical skills and natural feel for the game, he has become an incredibly dangerous attacking player this year. His defensive tenacity was also a great asset to our team this fall,” said John Baker, Alderson Broaddus Men’s Rugby Head Coach.