Houston Secondary School student Jamie Beck is one of the players on the first ever B.C. U18 women’s sevens provincial rugby team, which will compete in the Las Vegas Invitational Sevens Feb. 7 to 10.
Jamie, grade 11 HSS student, was invited to a try out in Burnaby Dec. 9 2012, and earned one of the 12 spots on the team out of 45 competing grade 11 and 12 athletes from across B.C.
“I went down kind of thinking I wouldn’t be selected and it would just be a really cool experience and I would learn some stuff at the tryout and know what I have to work on,” said Jamie.
“Then I got a call a week later saying I got selected to the team and I was – I almost cried I was so happy – it was actually unreal to think that I was selected for a B.C. team,” Jamie said.
“I felt honoured to think that they felt like I could compete at that level, and that I’d be able to learn and catch up with the skill of these girls that play all the time. It was just a huge honour and I just felt really good,” she said.
Since then, Jamie says she has been cross training with basketball and doing personal training in the mornings before school – a modified version of the team’s training program, changed to work with Houston’s long winter season.
She also went to a training weekend in Vancouver and trained with the team almost all day Jan. 19 to 20, she said.
“I learned so much, it was incredible,” Jamie said.
“And to play with these girls who are amazing at rugby was really cool,” she said, adding that some of the girls on the team get to play rugby year-round, which is much different from Houston’s 15s and sevens six-week seasons, shortened by the long winter.
Jamie started playing HSS rugby in grade 8, four years ago, and says she signed up just because it was another sport to play.
She says she loves sports and has played nearly everything including ringette, hockey, soccer, track, basketball, and volleyball.
She also played on the Northwest team at the 2012 B.C. Summer Games in White Rock July 19 to 22, competing against teams from Vancouver Island, Burnaby and Vancouver.
“It was probably the most amazing rugby experience for me… I just started to realize that I really, really loved playing it and it was a lot of fun,” Jamie said.
Summer Games assistant coach Cobus Jonker says Jamie’s best attributes are her physical strength, speed and fitness, as well as her eager learning and outstanding commitment.
HSS girls rugby coach Scott Jackson agrees.
“Her speed is the one thing that sets her apart from everybody else, but she’s also sports smart… she picks up things quickly, doesn’t have to be taught more than one time, and is able to take a skill learned in the gym and apply it to a game situation,” said Jackson.
Jackson says it has been very rewarding for him to watch Jamie develop into the player she has become.
Her natural talent and speed allowed her to dominate right from grade 8 on, but now she has developed into a much more complete player who can do a lot of things and make things happen on the field, and she embraces the defensive side of rugby and the tackling which she first didn’t enjoy, said Jackson.
“I think the future is really bright for Jamie,” Jackson said.
Jamie says she loves playing rugby and plans to pursue it in university, and with rugby now an Olympic sport, Jamie says she dreams of playing in the Olympics.
“I don’t think it’s unrealistic to talk about Rio in 2016, or maybe 2020,” said Jackson, and Jonker agrees.
“Keep tabs on this one; don’t be surprised is she makes the Canadian team,” Jonker said.
Jamie left Feb. 5 for Vancouver and trained that night with the team. Today, Feb. 6, the teams flies to Las Vegas for the Las Vegas Invitational High School Girls Sevens tournament where they will compete against teams from across U.S. and Canada.
Jamie says she wants to thank Mr. Jackson and her coaches from the Summer Games, Cobus Jonker, Ben Harris and Kayla Hooker, for being really supportive and helping her learn and develop as a player.