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Williams Lake rugby player finds her footing in Ireland

Carrie Lange competes with BC U18 team on international stage
Photo submitted Williams Lake rugby player Carrie Lange enjoyed the experience of competing with the B.C. U18 rugby team this summer in Ireland.

LeRae Haynes

Special to Tribune/Advisor

Carrie Lange brings the same focus and dedication to her university studies as she does the rugby field. The Williams Lake hometown girl recently returned from Ireland with B.C.’s U18 teams, where the girls’ team won four out of five games against Ireland and France.

Lange started playing rugby in Grade 9 in Williams Lake.

“I’m a big, strong, stocky girl and I wanted to try it in Grade 8, but they didn’t have a team. The next year the schools combined and I tried out,” she said. “A couple of practices in, I thought I liked it, and after the first game I was hooked.”

Rugby takes a lot of mental capacity, according to Lange.

“In Grade 9, my rookie year, I was encouraged to try for the U16 and made it on the long list. I sustained an injury, however, and didn’t make the team. I was devastated,” she said.

“After I got hurt, my confidence wavered, and all during Grade 10 my playing was worse. Slowly, my confidence came back up, with the help of my coaches. I worked really hard on my skills and I made the U18 team in Grade 11, and I got to go to the Nationals.”

This year she made the U18 team again and got to go to Ireland.

“Every year the B.C. U18 team goes to the Nationals,” she said. “They wanted the kids to get more international experience. They chose Ireland because the Women’s World Cup was being held there at the same time. It was great – we got to watch Canada vs. New Zealand.

“Our last game was the best for team work; we really started playing together as a team. We only had about a month together before the trip. The tryouts were on the 7th and the team was announced the next week.”

Carrie’s mom, Christine Lange, said that watching Carrie fulfill her dreams is an amazing feeling as she starts to blend her career goals with her athletic goals.

“Through her high school years, my daughter has come home from many of her matches in one piece, but bruised and battered nonetheless. She couldn’t stop smiling behind her dirt-covered face, with her messy hair sticking out in several different directions,” Christine said. “’I think I found my sport, Mom!’ she announced to me on her very first day after practice. I think she was right.”

Christine added that Carrie has always been a diligent student.

“She continued to work hard on her academic classes, studying on the bus as they traveled distances for tournaments. She completed assignments late at night in their hotel rooms, persevering to achieve academically. All her team mates had to do the same – they all willingly chose to make sacrifices to play.

“She juggled her part-time job, practice, tryouts, school and home responsibilities, and a social life outside her rugby family – all for the love of her game.”

Carrie’s primary position on the team is tight five, which is where she has a lot of experience.

“My favourite position I used to play was center in the back – I like the space to run. You’re the strong back and you get to run and make the tackles for the backs,” she said.

“The forwards make the tackle and the backs move the ball.”

She explained that the higher the rugby level, the fewer injuries you see, adding that when you’re older they expect you to know how to be safe on the field.

“Ireland was so unbelievably beautiful. I loved the Cliffs of Moher and the gorge –the hike was a killer! It took a bit to get used to the money, and I found the roads very small. They were exactly the size of the bus,” she noted.

There were a few differences in the rugby itself, according to Lange, who said that Ireland was more strict in their rules, and they had more safety regulations.

“We had to adapt quickly,” she said. “The rugby was the same but the strategy was a bit different.”

In her first year of university at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, she’s currently taking a list of elective courses, so that when she starts her nursing classes, she can play rugby without having to take so many other courses on top of nursing.

Options for her future in both nursing and rugby include the University of Victoria and the University of the Fraser Valley.

She added that one of the unique things about rugby is that it’s vicious on the field, but after the game, you’re friends.

“You have nothing but respect for the other players. It’s such a tough sport, and you’re pushing your body to its absolute limit,” she said. “It creates bonds.”