As 20,000 sang Canada’s national anthem in unison inside Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium to start the women’s sevens rugby final at the Pan American Games, a glowing smile 10 miles wide was apparent on Team Canada player and Williams Lake’s Kayla Moleschi’s face.
When Canada then went on to hammer the U.S. 55-7 in the championship Sunday, July 12 to win the gold medal, Moleschi said she couldn’t have been prouder.
“To start singing the national anthem, I couldn’t stop smiling,” Moleschi told the Tribune. “I didn’t care how silly I looked no one was going to get that smile off my face. It was such a proud moment … my heart filled with so much joy.”
Now home in Williams Lake visiting family and friends, Moleschi has had time to let her experience at the Games sink in after her team outscored its opposition 285-19 through six games to dominate the tournament.
“It was so exciting coming in and playing in a Canadian city and there’s all these fans there supporting us,” she said. “There weren’t just seven of us on the field, there was the whole 12 [woman roster]. We were all so connected to each other.”
As a team, she felt it was Canada’s best tournament after finishing second in last year’s World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil.
“We stuck to the game plan and didn’t stoop down to any of the other countries’ levels,” she said. “We approached every game like it was for the gold medal and treated this tournament like a mini-Olympics.”
Following the win at the Pan American Games the team travelled to Rio, Brazil, to tour the site of the Olympic Games.
“These past two weeks have just been amazing to say the least,” she said.
“Thanks to all my supporters, my family, everyone in Williams Lake, and everyone who sent me a congratulations on Facebook and to my boyfriend, Jessie Walters, who is stationed [with the Canadian Armed Forces] in Shilo, Man.”
Moleschi now has some rest and relaxation time at home in Williams Lake before she will return to Langford, B.C., to start training with her teammates again at the Rugby Canada High Performance Facility on Aug. 16 to begin preparation for next year’s WRWSS and the Olympics.
She said the opportunity to play rugby for Canada for the past two years has been a blessing.
“This has probably been the best two years of my life,” she said. “To me, this [medal] is worth more than gold.”