With sweaty palms and tears welling up in her eyes, Kayla Moleschi sat anxiously in the waiting room.
Her manager and head coach of Canada’s Women’s Sevens rugby team were individually calling players into private meetings last Wednesday where they were informed whether they would be donning Canada’s jersey at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil.
“I go in and sit down, and I don’t think John [Tait, head coach] could hold anything in,” Moleschi said Thursday from Victoria.
“‘It’s official. You’re going to Rio.’ I had to hold back tears going in and then I just had this huge smile but tears were filling my eyes. I felt so many emotions in that meeting and it was a really special moment with my manager and my coach — they’ve been here throughout my whole national career with Canada and it’s very special they believed in me from the very beginning.”
When Rugby Canada made its selection announcement last Friday, Moleschi said she couldn’t believe the supportive and encouraging outpouring from her friends and family in Williams Lake.
“I’m beyond words,” she said. “I couldn’t have done it without Williams Lake as a whole. Williams Lake has really shown up to support me over the years and, truly, from the bottom of my heart I couldn’t love that damn town more than I do.
“The messages coming in — I had to step away from my phone I was so overwhelmed. I was way too emotional to reply right away. It’s amazing and I can’t thank everyone enough.”
The Williams Lake rugby product, who started playing the sport in high school at Columneetza secondary, was one of 12 players named to Canada’s side and is now setting her sights on an Olympic gold medal.
Coming off a cup title victory in France during the final leg of the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in May, Moleschi said Canada’s confidence has never been higher heading into the Games.
“It’s still a high for us,” she said. “We really showed that whole tournament we were resilient and coming out in the final, from the first whistle to the last, we were on fire and sticking to our game plan.
“We wanted the world to know we’re a contender. When we’re playing our best we can play we can beat any top team in the world and we proved that when we beat Australia and New Zealand this year.”
Moleschi’s mom, Andrea, her dad, Ron, and her brother, Curtis and his fiancee, Shalynn McCauley, will be travelling to Rio to watching the competition, which runs from Aug. 6-8.
“With my family there, it’s going to be incredible,” Moleschi said. “Holding that gold medal above our heads — we want it, and there’s no doubt we can do it.”
Canada opens its tournament Aug. 6 against Japan, before taking on Brazil and England in pool play. Pool B consists of France, Spain and Kenya, while Pool A will see the U.S., Fiji and Colombia face off.
The team will leave for Toronto on July 23 to acclimate to the city’s heat and humidity, which Moleschi said is similar to Brazil’s, before departing the following week for Rio.
Moleschi said because Canada plays on Aug. 6 her team won’t be in attendance at the opening ceremonies Aug. 5, however, will be there until the end of the Games to take in the action and attend the closing ceremonies.
“Honestly, I’m most excited about stepping out on the pitch and playing rugby with these girls who’ve been working toward our dream for the past four or five years,” she said.
“All the blood, the sweat, the tears, the long training in the rain and hail — [it will be] that rewarding moment of wearing the maple leaf and stepping out on the field for Canada and representing our hometowns.”