A diverse group of Yukon high schoolers are trying out rugby
On a Monday afternoon, about 30 students toss rugby balls back and forth in the main atrium at FH Collins High School in Whitehorse.
The youngsters are taking part in a new rugby program at the school. And it’s new territory for many of them, having never played a high school sport or been part of a team before.
That much becomes apparent as they learn to hit and take safely before landing on the blue mats scattered on the ground below them.
“The sports that we have here, basketball and volleyball, never really appealed to me,” said Grade 12 student Lukas Temple. “When I heard there was rugby, I was absolutely blown away.”
They now feel more like part of the school – Andy Todd, coach
Temple isn’t alone in his enthusiasm for the game.
Rugby has become one of the most popular options for students at the school when it comes to sport.
The game has become such a magnet that the only indoor space available to players is the school’s main atrium. Walk into school on a Monday afternoon and you go straight into rugby practice.
The sport’s popularity came as a pleasant surprise to teacher and coach Andy Todd.
“A lot of these students don’t play other sports,” Todd said. “Just knowing some of these guys has made a huge difference in their school work, they feel more like a part of the school now.”
Todd, whose son Charlie is on the team, says another appeal of the sport is that it has allowed some students to find a convenient place to channel aggression.
“You can really let it go,” Todd said. “The more aggressive you are, the more committed you are, the better it is for our team.”
Mackenzie Keefer is one of the newcomers to take up the sport.
The 12th grader only started playing last month but quickly fell in love with the game.
“I’m an aggressive person, so it’s nice to have a sport where that’s accepted rather than discouraged,” Keefer said. “I don’t like cardio, so running around and having fun is a way to disguise the cardio.”
Charlie Todd is the youngest member of the new rugby squad and one of the smallest. The 8th grader doesn’t even attend the school but was invited by his father, Coach Andy.
“I said I’d try it and I really like it,” Charlie said. “In other sports there are a lot of dry moments, but in rugby it’s non-stop action.”
Charlie says he also likes the newfound confidence that the sport has given him.
“I’m not as afraid of painful things anymore,” he said. “Like I really didn’t do jumps when I was skiing before, but now after rugby it doesn’t really matter.”
Imogen Resch grew up playing touch rugby in Dubai. The 9th grader loves the physicality and thrill that comes with being hands-on.
“I love the part and think it’s great and just toughens it up,” said Resch. “I also really enjoy the sport because it gets you to really think and use those cognitive skills along with the need to be technical and use your strength.”
Resch is also a fan of how diverse the group of Whitehorse players is.
“It’s really super diverse,” says Resch. “To be honest, there are all kinds of people here from all different backgrounds.”
This diverse group will soon put their newfound passion and love for the game to the test. In May they travel to their first tournament in Calgary.
“These kids have never competed much and now they’re going to a tournament that represents the Yukon,” said Coach Todd. “It’s phenomenal.”