Recent LCSS graduate Grace Turner is off to the University of British Columbia this fall to play rugby for the Thunderbirds and study kinesiology. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Recent LCSS graduate Grace Turner is off to the University of British Columbia this fall to play rugby for the Thunderbirds and study kinesiology. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

OUR HOMETOWN: Rugby talent Grace Turner

The 17-year-old is headed off to the UBC to study kinesiology and play rugby

After her first few rugby practices in Grade 8 at Lake City Secondary School (LCSS) Grace Turner fell in love with the sport.

“I was definitely hooked once I started playing,” the 17-year-old recent graduate said, recalling how she and a friend decided they’d give rugby a try.

While the friend ended up quitting, Grace continued.

During high school she was coached by Morley Wilson for five years who she said supported everything she wanted to do in rugby.

“Morley really helped create who I am as a rugby player.”

In 2019, Natasha Johnson started up, managed and coached a club rugby program for girls through the local Williams Lake Rustlers Rugby Club to give players more opportunities.

It was through Johnson, who spent three years at Acadia University in Nova Scotia playing rugby and completing a community development recreation degree, that Grace began playing on a provincial-regional tour team, even going to Ireland over spring break in 2022.

That experience led Grace to being on the gold-winning U18 Team BC that went to the Canada Summer Games in Niagara, Ont. this summer.

It was the first time that rugby 7s were at the games.

Now the 17-year-old is headed off to the University of British Columbia to study kinesiology and play rugby for the UBC Thunderbirds.

Her university term had a head start with a two-week training camp at UBC that started on Monday, Aug. 22.

Born and raised in Williams Lake by her parents Lisa Young and Andy Turner, Grace heard about rugby from older players, plus her dad played high school rugby in Abbotsford.

She was already an avid athlete playing soccer, swimming with the Blue Fins, mountain biking and skiing, even volunteering to coach for the Nancy Green Ski Program at Mount Timothy Recreational Resort.

“I also like being on the water – tubing and water skiing. We have a cabin at Horsefly that I spend a lot of my time at.”

Juggling academics and sports is all about balance for Grace, who also received a top academic award for maintaining a better than a 96 per cent average over her Grade 11 and 12 years.

“Obviously if there are exams coming up I will focus on certain things and prioritize.”

Super excited to be going to UBC, to live in a different city and try new things, she is grateful for Williams Lake being a rugby town where she has had good training.

“There is a great rugby community here between high school and going up to the Williams Lake Rustlers Club. So many people are into rugby, especially in high school.”

Johnson said Grace was one of the first athletes she got to coach right from the start.

“She would have been in Grade 9 when I moved home from university and started coaching. She was always so eager to go and always such a good leader on our team right from the start.”

Eventually Johnson brought Grace into the gym at Total Ice Training Centre and witnessed her working hard all the time.

“I would drive by the school and she would be sprinting lines or kicking a ball, even when she was supposed to be at home relaxing.”

Johnson added she has no doubt Grace will do well at UBC.

“She’s a very smart, independent girl. She was actually accepted at three different schools for three different rugby teams.”

To any younger players going to LCSS who want to play rugby, Grace encouraged them to take advantage of any opportunities.

“You get to go to some cool places and meet great people.”

READ MORE: LCSS Falcons girls go undefeated at home tourney



monica.lamb-yorski@wltribune.com

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