Twenty-five hearts, one beat.
That was the message delivered to Team B.C. by coaches Brad Baker and Rick Pimlott at this past August’s under-18 National Rugby Championships.
And, it was a message heard loud and clear by five Williams Lake athletes who were selected to the team.
Williams Lake secondary’s Alexis Myhre, Erica Pfleiderer and Melanie Dallow and Columneetza secondary’s Jaime Carrier and Jasmyn Niquidet were part of the team which travelled to Calgary from Aug. 17-21 for the tournament.
The journey led Team B.C. to a gold-medal final — one where they fell just shy of winning the tournament. The team lost 34-18 to Ontario, bringing home a silver medal.
The experience, all agreed, was phenomenal.
“It kind of puts things more in perspective of what it takes to play at that level,” Pfleiderer said.
Team B.C. began its tournament with a 20-0 win over Quebec, before beating Nova Scotia 19-8. Following a 12-12 tie with Ontario’s No. two team, B.C. beat Newfoundland 58-0. In elimination play B.C. beat Quebec for the second time, 61-10, before playing in the final against Ontario’s No. one squad.
“I think the coaching strategy was to play each game half by half,” Myhre said. “We had six games, so we had 12 halves we had to win. When I’d step on the field I’d be thinking in 20-minute intervals.”
Despite losing to Ontario in the final, all of the girls said no one was disappointed with the loss.
“The level of play was really high,” Myhre said. “They were big, athletic, strong girls. They were playing women’s style rugby not girl’s style rugby and were definitely out of girl’s high school mode.”
Myhre added when Team B.C. walked off the pitch for the final time in the tournament, everyone felt like they’d left everything they had out on the field.
“We felt like we’d put everything in that we could,” she said.
“People were a bit upset at first but then you realize we came second in Canada and we’re among the top 50 players in the country [for our age group],” Carrier added. “For me, I was pumped.”
All five girls still have one more year of eligibility playing nationally for B.C.’s under-18 club, and said the possibility is there to return again to play at next summer’s tournament.