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McGrath: Dedication in the Desert

  • 11 Jun 2019

McGrath with Scion / Photo: Jackie Finlan



Jim McGrath wrote the following story about his daughter, Jade (Boston College, Scion, USA Falcons), and it’s representative of the pride and admiration that children inspire in their parents. When not shuttling between green spaces in the Arabian Desert, Mr. McGrath serves as NYU Abu Dhabi’s Head Basketball Coach and Intramural Sports and Campus Recreation Manager.




I just wanted to share something that I am sure happens in countless places by a large number of young ladies but probably goes unrecognized far too often.


Our daughter, Jade McGrath (Scion, D.C.) came home to Abu Dhabi, UAE for her younger brother’s high school graduation. We say, “coming home to Abu Dhabi,” as we moved to this part of the world in 2008 when Jade was 12, and she and her two brothers grew up here for the most formative years of their lives. Like many of her peers, Jade did not start playing rugby until she went away to university (Boston College, Class of 2018) although she did try touch rugby the summer between her junior and senior years of high school.


The transition to rugby was complete when we received a telephone conference call one Saturday, the fall of her freshman season, with Jade and a doctor on the other end of the line. Her broken collar bone is now the subject of a sports science article, but at that time it was the cause of a mad scramble to get to the airport, fly one-third the way around the world and dash through the hospital where the nurses waited with her on the gurney in the hall until we got there (thank you, nursing staff at Newton-Wellesley Hospital). Fortunately, her BC career highlight was reaching the [DI College Fall Championship semifinal] her junior year, not the operation.



McGrath with Scion / Photo: Jackie Finlan



But her passion for the game really took off when she found 7s. After her first tournament, she called us and asked, “What are you doing in 2020? I have made the Olympics my goal.” She has been a stalwart on the Scion’s roster for the past couple of years and rugby has allowed her to travel around the country and internationally – Fiji with Scion and Hokkaido with the USA Falcons. Her dedication is what spurred me to write.


She got off the plane here in Abu Dhabi on Saturday evening, eight hours body-clock wise ahead of Washington, D.C. Sunday morning she was out on the jogging path near our home and by Sunday evening had made sure I had all the proper food in the refrigerator so she could maintain her diet right before she jumped on my bike for a 30-minute ride. On Monday we took a trip to my place of work, NYU Abu Dhabi, so she could get on a green space. I thought she wanted to toss the ball around a bit, but when we arrived at the field she popped open her workout schedule and spent the next 45 minutes doing her full speed workout. It was 35 degrees Celsius (95 F) when she started and 42 degrees (108 F) when she finished (it gets hot quick in the morning).



McGrath in USA Falcons kit



Every day Jade put in an honest effort to accomplish her set training program, maintained her diet (even when we went to Friday brunch) and still was the best big sister a young woman could be for her graduating sibling. I felt like a sports parent again as it was 30-minute drives to green spaces or the weight room on a daily basis. I did not mind one bit.


I know her story is not as unique sounding to the rugby community as countless others with similar aspirations, but for one set of parents, for one week in the desert summer of the UAE, it was as unique as it was rewarding to see our little girl chasing her dreams with such dedication and passion.



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