FORMER CANADIAN TEAM PLAYERS KIM DONALDSON AND ASHLEY STEACY DISCUSS HOW ATHLETES ARE HELPING RUGBY GROW BY COACHING AT UNIVERSITY LEVEL TO BUILD AND BROADEN THE BASE FOR FUTURE TEAMS
Ruck On is hosted by Kim Donaldson
Podcast length 16′ 54″
Former Canadian Rugby Player Kim Donaldson returns with a new series of Ruck On as the rugby season gets under way. On this episode Kim is joined by fellow Canadian Ashley Steacy to talk about the growth of the women’s game in universities and how that is benefiting the sport in general. Ashley was three time Canadian Inter University Sport Champion, and was Player of the Year twice her first cap for both 15s and sevens was in 2007. After which she went to three World Cups, one 15’s World Cup where I had the opportunity to play with her. In 2009, 2013 went to those respective Sevens World Cups and keynoted to 2013 with his silver medal actually was announced to the 2014, 2015 women’s sevens World Series dream team and rugby Canada’s Sevens Player of the Year for 2014. 2015 on home soil won gold in the Pan Am Games and in 2016 representing Canada in their first appearance at the first ever rugby sevens in the Olympics in Rio.
Full transcript of the show below.
WiSP Sports Radio is the largest network of podcasts in women’s sport with more than 700 episodes across 30 shows and is available on podcast players such as iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify & Google Play.
[00:00:00] Hello and welcome back to WiSP Sports Ruck On, on the rugby show. Thank you for joining us for the coming season we’ll talk about Canadian and international women’s rugby. I’m Kim Donaldson recording at Victoria B.C. and today I’m joined by Ashley Steacy Canadian rugby living legend joining us from Lethbridge, Alberta. Thanks for coming Ashley.
[00:00:22] Thanks for having me Kim, I’m excited to be on the show.
[00:00:29] Ashley began playing rugby at the age of 10 with the University of Lethbridge she was a three time Canadian into university sport champion and was Player of the Year twice her first cap for both 15s and sevens was in 2007. After which she went to three World Cups 115 World Cup where I had the opportunity to play with her in 2009 2013 went to those respective Sevens World Cups and keynoted to 2013 with his silver medal actually was announced to the 2014 2015 women’s sevens World Series dream team and rugby Canada’s Sevens Player of the Year for 2014 2015. On home soil won gold in the Pan Am Games and in 2016 representing Canada in their first appearance at the first ever rugby sevens in the Olympics in Rio Ashley again thank you for being here. As she continues to be a stalwart member of the community giving her time and energy to local events and her friends online radio shows how how injuries came with all those medals. Oh you know a few here and there.
[00:01:54] Are a couple of bumps and bruises a few bumps and bruises that comes along with rugby I guess. But yeah I mean there are a few more near the end of my career when I was kind of getting a little bit a little bit older but that’s the term they use. Thank you for saying that Kim very much says and. Yeah. Now it’s been it’s been good. I was very lucky throughout the beginning part of my career. You mentioned they started when I was 10. Closer to 15. I started when I was in grade 10. Oh great. OK. Yeah they know it’s all good but. Yes. Yeah I really didn’t have a significant injury until maybe seven eight nine years into my career. And then that kind of started with my shoulder and ended up having shoulder surgery in 2014 2013 leading into the 2014 season. And yeah it dealt with that and then a couple of years later both of my knees had issues with my knees. And then those are my major injuries. Wow. And then how did you find that.
[00:03:01] I mean you obviously bounce back and bounce back quite well. Just jumping back into the international circuit. How did you how did you find you got through those times and injury and right back into it.
[00:03:15] Yeah I guess lots of support from Obviously our support staff. I couldn’t have done it without them and. Helping me get back on to the read between those is their job obviously but the support from them and my staff and obviously my teammates having the belief in me that I was able to come back especially with my knees my ACL right before the Olympics that one was obviously a pretty tremendous. Blow right before the Olympics but yeah just just the support of my teammates and my and my staff and then obviously for myself believing in myself that I was going to be able to make it back as well for myself just thinking about controlling the controllable.
[00:03:58] I mean you have an injury like that and if you let it get you down. I mean obviously there’s times when you do get down. But if you dwell on those moments then it just it just bogs you down and you’re not able to stick to what’s important. And for me what was important was controlling the control bulls and every day trying to get better and keep my eye on the goal. And yeah I was I was lucky enough that I was able to make it back in time.
[00:04:24] Excellent. I’m going to use this as a segue into what an incredible role model you are to the girls at University of Lethbridge. You made a return to your alma mater. You’re here Neal and you’re going again. How’s that going.
[00:04:38] It’s amazing it’s been such a fun opportunity. I mean obviously came out of a very sad situation with Rick Succot passing away. He did so many amazing things for the use of prong horns with two years that he was there and he’s very dearly missed here. But.
[00:04:56] Yeah I mean pretty crazy coming back to the school that I played five years at and coaching now with the coach who coached me when I was there. And it’s it’s awesome the girls are so much fun and so talented. And we had a great a great season build a great building season. We had a really really an team and it was fun to see the girls grow and really embrace the culture and the style of play that we wanted to play and yet it’s been really fun being back excellent and you’re not alone in terms of women who have retired from this sport internationally and come back university programs I mean in the Western Conference yourself.
[00:05:41] I work with Britney waters and Julianne’s Usman at University of Victoria Rhea Gallo obviously at UBC to the east coast Macaulay’s going to university of Gwenyth Jen Boyd at University of Ottawa and then recently Megali hobby McGill in Quebec. What effect do you think that these retired international players are having on the university game.
[00:06:04] I think it’s fantastic.
[00:06:06] I mean kind of taking myself out of it but seeing it happen previously was like like you said athletics and read Gallow and call it McCawley and Brittany waters and yourself and Zusman the last couple of years that you there just seeing the programs that these women have built. And like you said the role models that that they are for these young women it’s fantastic and I think that you’re starting to see it and with the girls that are. I mean the university is always kind of been that pathway up to the national team but we’re seeing it more and more now with the amount of girls coming out of the university scene and moving up to the national program that it’s huge and having those girls being able to look up to these women who have been there done that and who is who have represented their country.
[00:06:56] I think it’s absolutely fantastic and they’re getting that fixed that learning experience from women who have been there which I think is really really awesome.
[00:07:07] And did you find as you were ending your career that that was something you were looking forward to doing or was it kind of a last minute decision or how did you make your way into coaching.
[00:07:18] Like I said it just the opportunity just kind of presented itself all throughout my career.
[00:07:24] I knew that I wanted to give back to rugby after I was done playing with in regards to coaching.
[00:07:31] I don’t I didn’t realise at what level. I always thought I’d give back kind of at the high school level when I was done.
[00:07:38] And so in this university just kind of came up. There was it was exciting. I was super nervous. I felt like maybe I skipped a few steps and kind of jumped right into it.
[00:07:49] But I mean I have an awesome mentor to help me and yeah it’s been awesome.
[00:07:56] Q Do you think it’s something that you either use sport or rugby Canada or any other organizations come in ball with this kid could do more to support or or kind of push forward.
[00:08:10] Yeah I think so. We had and how it was the high court 7:5 performance director with word Canada come out to our nationals meeting because we hosted nationals in Lethbridge this year and she really talked to us about rugby Canada wanting to make.
[00:08:27] The use for a legitimate pathway for girls to look towards in order to get onto the national team. And
[00:08:35] I mean it obviously has been in some respects because the candidate coaches look at all the games and watch all the games and they do keep but in order in I guess promoting it in that respect that girls should be joining us for if they want to start getting their way onto the national team I think it’s a really great opportunity. And I mean 15s has been going for a long time with a new sport but now especially with seven starting to take off and now especially with the Canada West League really picking up on the Sevens and I know the Ontario leagues are starting to and I think it’s just going to be an absolute fantastic opportunity for girls 15 and sevens to be able to play that high level in University is a great opportunity and for the national team coaches to be able to see that level of play and to select from it.
[00:09:34] Talk about it a little bit more like you said it dirty has been a pathway. I mean if we even look at the 15 tour that’s just wrapping up a lot of new faces on that tour several new cabs and several girls coming from their respective university programs. The average age seems to continue to drop going as it has in sevens as well. And like you said that university sevens programming is growing across the country where where can you see that going.
[00:10:03] You think I think you nailed it on the head.
[00:10:07] There’s there’s a ton of young girls who are selected for this November tour for the national team and it’s exciting in the respect that we’re bringing up like this really fresh crop of young talent.
[00:10:20] And I think they obviously are learning a lot and you saw in the score in the game against then narrowed down the score in the second game which is awesome.
[00:10:40] And the girls are starting to know what to expect on the international scene which it is it’s a big jump from going from use for it up to the international senior women’s level. But. Cool that so many of the university girls got the call to jump up and I think it’s great. And I think it just says so much about the level of youth sport rugby as well.
[00:11:03] Yeah absolutely. So what are your plans for the coming season for seven.
[00:11:08] Ashley for you support 17 yeah.
[00:11:14] Yes. So we are teams getting going and going to start training for the sevens next season then we’ve got three tournaments that hopefully four tournaments of nationals hopefully going to happen. And so yeah just prepping the girls and getting them ready to go for the seventh season it starts in January. Our first tournament is in Edmonton January 10th and 11th and then two tournaments out on the west coast and then that will be in February and then hopefully the Nationals in March. Victoria excellent.
[00:11:49] Are you going to be involved with the vehicles with the Sevi that is probably not so much.
[00:11:56] Obviously I’d commit to the 15th season which I really enjoy. I feel like my expertise could be used in other areas outside of the sevens game.
[00:12:05] So I’m lucky to live in a place where as you know there’s rugby all year long so I’ll be helping out with the local club team here at 14 at Kasturi wanderer’s adab. OK so the idea that that will be where I spend the majority of my time obviously I will step in when what it’s asked me I really love the UBid program and they obviously had a lot of success last year and they’re doing some pretty incredible things so hopefully we’ll see you here later in the winter.
[00:12:34] Yeah absolutely. I’m looking forward to it.
[00:12:37] Excellent. And you think I’m going to stay with Lethbridge for the next little while now. But you said you kind of you were a bit nervous to start but you’ve got us on your feet now do you feel confident you’ll stay with the program for a little bit.
[00:12:49] That’s the plan right now.
[00:12:51] Still trying to figure out. I mean I just recently retired from the national team back in June and just still trying to figure out this is kind of going to be my year that I was going to figure out what life looked like after rugby. And so with that coaching I mean it just popped up and it’s been an amazing opportunity and for right now it looks like I’m going to keep coaching and again just keep coming. Get my feet wet and seeing what else there is out there and what. What my life goals are and what I want my career path to be thought. So yeah. Yeah exactly sure. But trying to figure it out.
[00:13:29] That transition conversation is a whole other conversation and a if and only I know. Well it definitely took me a while to figure out what was next. And I’m still kind of muddling through some murky waters. But it’s it’s an exciting and terrifying time it’s how I refer to it.
[00:13:45] But I had so many positives and yet the transfer of experience transfers to whatever you decide you’re going to do quite easily. So yeah.
[00:13:56] Yeah. Yeah go ahead.
[00:13:59] Well I just I’ve learned so much about myself and it’s been such an exciting transition.
[00:14:05] I mean obviously still being involved in rugby. I didn’t get out of it completely but. It’s been fun a fun learning curve and a big transition for me. But it’s great.
[00:14:18] And like you said you took this opportunity. They kind of came in I think that’s something that we were to do with athletes anyways. Right when those opportunities come up whether it’s this election or a tour or whatever it is you kind of grab at it because because you have that passion and you have that fire. So yeah I’m not surprised that you did take that opportunity even though you had said maybe you’re gonna take some time the exact same thing happened to me while I was in Montreal. I was just at I think on my way to going to the 2014 World Cup and I got a call from the coach of the Concordia’s stingers asking I be interested in coaching after I retired in the fall and that same thing I thought well I thought maybe it took a bit of a break but this is good too. And yeah I don’t look back. I love coaching university rugby and I would definitely do it for as long as I can.
[00:15:10] I mean yeah it’s it’s great to be able to get back to.
[00:15:14] I mean there’s been so many that have come before us and have laid the groundwork. I was looking at a video that some of the English former national team players and Anna richesses in there from New Zealand they put together a value of what they had to go through leading into the very first women’s World Cup and the fight that they had to put up to even be able to play and I just it’s I just love looking at that stuff and thinking of those ladies that came before us and they just paved the way for all of women’s rugby across the globe and what it looks like now like we’re literally standing on the shoulders of giants. It’s really cool to be a part of such an amazing sport and women who are so passionate about it.
[00:16:00] I absolutely agree and I think it’s passionate women who are going to continue to help it grow just like you said most people who came before us did so much in a thing. We almost have a responsibility to give as much as we can as well.
[00:16:15] Yeah I agree with you. Kim that’s a great way of putting it.
[00:16:22] Thank you so much for joining us and giving us your time. And for more conversations from the world of women’s sport including articles and videos, blogs and podcasts visit WiSPsports.com. WiSP Sports Radio is the largest podcast network for women’s sport in the world with more than 700 episodes across 30 unique shows and a global audience of 1.5 million. You can listen on the website or subscribe on any podcast player such as iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and Google Play.
[00:16:58] You can follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleySteacy on Instagram at Ashley.Steacy and Facebook you can find her at Ashley Steacy. You can find me on Twitter @KimmyDonaldson. I’m Kim Donaldson. Until next time. Thanks for listening.