Lake City Secondary School (WLSS) girls rugby won third at the AAA Provincials held at Abbotsford Exhibition Park May 31 to June 3, 2023.
For her first year coaching the team, Natasha Johnson said it was a great season.
Comprised of students from Grade 10 to 12, the team started training at Total Ice Training Centre in February and then were on the field after spring beak.
Grade 8s and 9s from Columneetza joined them for practices, but were not part of the team, she added.
She also trained the players to compete in 15s rather than sevens.
“Most teams in our zone play sevens, but I chose 15s because we could double the amount of players, and it’s a more inclusive game to all body types and athleticism,” Johnson said. “Fifteens also the common sport played beyond high school at universities and social clubs.”
Playing 15s is more difficult than sevens.
For sevens the games are 14 minutes and there is lots of space and running, while 15s games are 80 minutes, with two 40-minutes halves -there are systems, strategies and the game is more structured, she said.
While at provincials the team stayed all together in a house with a pool they rented.
“It was a great bonding experience. The girls cooked, did karaoke, played games, watched movies.”
She also said the team had great support from the community and thanked Dunlevy Ranch, West Fraser truckers, Dog n suds, Williams lake log haulers, Superior Self Loading, Total Ice, Margetts Meats and Williams Lake Rustlers for sponsoring the team.
Johnson said four of the team members are playing in the provincial regional team for the Thompson Okanagan Rugby Alliance with players from Fort St. John to Kelowna.
Maya Nawotny, Joelle Thurow, Gaby Knox and Ane Fine from Williams Lake will travel to the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver for the championships taking place July 7 to 9, 2023.
Ane was also named MVP at provincials and Maya has been chosen to play for UBC this fall.
In 2020 Johnson helped coach the provincial regional team but is not doing that this year. She does plan to coach the school team again next season.
The coach is John LaBoyne, formerly coach of the University of Prince Edward Island Varsity team, who now lives in Salmon Arm.
“He coached me at UBCO,” Johnson said.
Going to provincials she saw coaches who were there when she was playing for LCSS as well as players she played against, who like her, are now coaching.
“Rugby was my favourite part about high school,” she said, smiling.
Johnson along with other Williams Lake Rustlers Rugby Club member and high school boys coach Braden McCallum are teaming up with the city to present Rookie Rugby beginning Monday, June 26 at the Marie Sharpe Elementary School field.
Some of her high school girls will be helping as well.
Geared for children ages five through 12, the rugby goes from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. every Monday with registration through the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex.