I still remember the pride I felt when I predicted a blindside break from the scrum, and the rush of exhilaration that came from connecting one of the sweetest tackles of my high-school rugby career.
For me, it was always about the camaraderie of the scrums, the synchronicity of the rucks, and the unison of thought when you purposely went down into a tackle and blindly popped that rugby ball to your support. Because you never had any reason to doubt that they were there.
One of the greatest pleasures my post rugby experience has been is seeing how far the Houston secondary girls rugby team has come.
When I first played 11 years ago, we had a co-ed team because there wasn’t enough interest to form our own. We found a rugby community with nearby teams like Smithers secondary, and were welcomed as sisters, warriors, of our favourite sport.
Now, from underdogs to champions, Houston secondary has a junior and a senior team. There are more opportunities now for women in rugby too. Last year the summer Olympics had their first women’s sevens rugby competition. And events like the invitational sevens rugby tournament in Las Vegas are available to graduating high school students. Still, when your home is a small town in the North, access is an obstacle.
Distance between communities, difficulties in unpredictable weather conditions, length and time of transportation, cost of food and accommodation all weigh in on the decision making of students and coaches that have to travel to compete. And due to these distances the variety of opposition is limited.
Alternatives are needed to reduce these gaps. A network is necessary to connect these developing athletes to opportunities that will further cultivate their growth as rugby players. So it is always greatly appreciated to see former coaches and teachers carry a torch for the students they once taught, and offer them a chance to participate in something that will evolve their athletic skills.
And though it has taken years for these chances to present themselves, they are gratefully welcomed. When you love what you do, you find ways to make it work. Since I graduated high school I have been fortunate to compete in friendly rugby competitions in Williams Lake, in Jasper, and Abbotsford simply thanks to that network and community.
On behalf of Houston Today I wish Maggie Kenzle, Jody Siemens, and Denae Grange the best of luck at the Las Vegas invitational tournament. Show them what athletes of the North have to offer.