Rugby is played in seasons, and in Alberta, that means outdoor practice starts in April, and the season wraps in September. Six months is all we get here. I know that there are things done to extend the season – sevens series, CIS season in the fall, and snow sevens are a few of the ways that we try to squeeze as much rugby as possible into the year, but ultimately, rugby is played in seasons.
Rugby has also been played in almost all of the seasons of my life. I’ve been lucky to be involved in the game in many different roles and ways. I started my career in high school, which led me to play other team sports in high school. I’ve played strictly for fun, and I’ve played for competition. I’ve recruited my sister to play with me. I’ve stood pregnant on the sidelines and watched my team win a city championship. I’ve stepped back onto the field within a month of having my daughter. I’ve coached high school, club, and representative teams. I’ve refereed. I’ve held administrative positions. I’ve volunteered in many different capabilities. I’ve been a tournament organizer. I’ve been a mom of rugby players. I’ve been a mom that is also a rugby player. I’ve had my kids on the sidelines cheering me on, but unable to recognize me because of the scrum cap. I’ve played and got really fit, and I’ve played less fit. I’ve been a captain, and I’ve been a manager. I’ve played for two different clubs, and worn many more jerseys than that in the spirit of getting a game going. I’ve played every position in the pack, and everything in the backs except for fullback (I was a wing in grade 10). I’ve watched the club expand their women’s side to two teams, and I’ve played in years where we couldn’t field a full 15 players for games. I’ve been on tour with the women’s team, as a club, as a coach, with the men’s team. I’ve acted as a trainer for the Pirate teams. I have made my very best friends in this sport, and these friendships have lasted for years, even as our own relationships to rugby have changed. I have covered myself with rugby, in every possible way that I have found.
Over the course of my rugby career, I’ve changed from an awkward, 15-year old high school student to a confident, outgoing 33-year old with two children. And in that time, rugby has always been able to meet my needs, no matter the season of my life.
It fulfilled my need to build confidence when I was shy and awkward and it’s given me a place where I can work on building the confidence of others. You can only win rucks when you are confident.
It fulfilled my need to be a leader in many capacities and this experience has prepared me for the work that I do now. It has also made me a better follower after having had a leadership role, because I have a greater understanding of the demands that leadership places on people.
It fulfilled my need to find something to do with myself that was physical, but also social. It is always there for me, regardless of my current level of fitness, and my teammates are some of the most supportive people around. It’s there, pushing me to do better. It shows my kids that all body types contribute and are valued in this sport.
It has fulfilled my need to stay involved when sidelined by pregnancy, to be involved after I’ve had children, and has given me a place where I can bring the kids and they will be greeted by everyone in the building. It’s a place where my kids feel safe and have fun, knowing that there will be a couple of other kids looking for activity.
It’s allowed me to share something that I love with my kids, and to watch them pick it up with the same joy and abandon that I have. Minis rugby is a great way for kids to experience the game for the first time, instead of waiting until high school.
In all the seasons of my life, rugby has been exactly what I need it to be. Check us out and see what it can be to you.