The Lacombe Composite High School Rams Girls Rugby team is trying to find the right mix between new faces and old veterans in order to have a successful 2019.
The results so far have been really good, according to Coach Kessie Stefanyk, but there is more work to be done.
“There is a lot of learning to do at the beginning of the year, but within the first two games they have already picked up on so many concepts,” she said. “They are really starting to get things, which is exciting for us. Things are looking good so far.”
Stefanyk is relying on a key group of veterans, including Grade 11 Sierra Stewart and Grade 12 Holly Clark to lead the team through the struggles of skill development.
“We definitely lean on our vets, especially to help the new girls on the field because obviously as coaches we can’t be out there. We have a really strong leadership group this year that I know that can take us pretty far in the playoffs,” she said.
Stewart, according to her coach, is a talented multisport athlete that leads with her skill and passion.
“She is very vocal on the field and has played a lot of rugby. She only started last year, but played a tonne of club as well. She brings a tonne of leadership and a positive attitude to the girls,” Stefanyk said.
Stewart said she sees the potential of this year’s Ram squad.
“Our team will progress throughout the season,” she said. “There is a lot of skills that need to be worked on and if we get those basic skills down, the more successful our team will be.”
Clark is someone Stefanyk can rely on to keep things smooth-sailing on the pitch.
“Holly Clark is a Grade 12, third year player and is a positive influence for our forwards. She is a calming influence for our team when things get hectic, which is awesome,” she said.
Stefanyk obviously wants her team to pick up wins, but she sees the skill development side as a way for her players to excel in rugby beyond high school.
“We want to pick up a few wins along the way, but I really want to build their skill-sets so they can see success later on — even after high school. There is some of them who would have that ability,” she said.
Stefanyk identified Notre Dame, Hunting Hills and Stettler as programs she would like to see progress against.
“They are super strong programs, so it can be a bit of an up-hill battle but I think we have the potential to surprise a few teams this year,” she said.
Overall, the team consists of 31 girls, which shows the growth of the sport in Lacombe according to Stefanyk.
“We want to keep pushing those numbers. We want to connect with the younger kids to get girls playing rugby sooner, so when they come to us they have the knowledge,” she said, adding they have had great support from Titans Rugby and other club teams.
“I know how I see the game, but that is not necessarily the way everyone else does. It is nice to get the community involved,” she said.
Through their exhibition season, the Rams have seen plenty of support.
“For our first exhibition game, it was awesome. You would have thought it was a football game with how many people were in the stands. It was so cool to see. We are really starting to build a culture around here,” she said