This year Stettler Wildcats girls’ rugby team has already started training and preparing for the season as they look forward to playing some big tournaments.
The initial information session and sign up meeting was this past week with 40 names, of which six were Grade 9s.
“Getting at least 35 or more was what we were hoping for as that still allows for a lot of playing time with games being 80 minutes long with 15 players on the field at a time,” said Coach Josh Elliott. “Carrying a large roster I think will have a lot of payoffs as older players can help teach younger players and build better athletes as we grow.”
According to Elliott, it is important to get as many girls involved in the game as possible, not only for the positive outcomes like self-confidence and being part of a team, but one never knows which players would evolve into rugby die-hards and adopt the game into adulthood.
“The amazing thing about rugby is how vibrant it is beyond high school and developed at the club level for adults, socially and competitively,” Elliott explained. “Female athletes on women’s rugby teams in Red Deer, Edmonton, and Calgary can range from age 18 to late 40s.”
Elliott said that he had met middle-aged mothers still playing rugby and enjoying being physically active alongside multiple U of A Pandas teammates at the club level.
“I think that is an awesome pathway for adults to stay physically active as they get older, and I hope this program helps open a window for these girls when they get older if they choose,” Elliott stated. “Our big mantra last year with the girls was that they were changing perceptions of what girls can do and would be affecting the lives of the younger generation of girls in Stettler.”
Elliott said that through role modelling, rugby can have a profound effect on the younger siblings, neighbours and people in the community, of what they are capable of.
“Rugby has already opened up new possibilities for the Grade 10s and current students, as they are now coming to the high school excited to join the already existing rugby team,” Elliott added. “We will be growing from 19 girls to around 35. But, we still need to decide on our team goals this year as we start our first practices this week.”
The girls finished fourth in the league last year out of nine teams in Central Alberta.
“I think it is realistic to shoot for top four again and even getting third in the league would be amazing as a second-year program,” Elliott said. “If we can crack top two, that would be a great accomplishment and I don’t think we’re that far off with the roster we have, but we want to keep our goals realistic and achievable. And perhaps compete for a spot to go to 3A provincials.”