From 100 of the top rugby players across the province four local Rimbey athletes have been selected to play for Alberta Wolfpack Rugby and represent Alberta during the Canadian National Championships.
Courtney Holtkamp, Jada Hotlkamp, and Lora Lee will be playing on the U18 squad, and Sydney Burchnall was selected for the U16 squad.
During the month of July the girls took part in the Alberta Regional Competition (ARC) Tournament.
Team consisting of players from the four regions of Alberta — central, southern, Calgary and Edmonton — squared off against each other with scouts in attendance.
“After every session they would make a few cuts,” said Courtney.
The final training camp was held Aug. 4 and 5. The four girls were notified via email on Aug. 8 that they had been selected for the U16 and U18 squads.
“I was super excited,” said Courtney.
This will be Courtney’s second year playing for the national team. “I’m just super excited to have this opportunity to play with my teammates again.”
“Mostly I’m looking forward to seeing how far this team has developed, because we did pretty well last year,” she added.
As a returning player Courtney feels she is going to be able to play with more confidence this year and be able to step into more of a leadership role.
Playing with confidence is also a tip she passes along to those selected for nationals for the first time. “They’ve worked hard all season and their hard work will pay off.”
One of those first time players is Courtney’s sister Jada, who says she is both and surprised she was selected.
During the past season Jada suffered an injury that put her out of the game until provincials.
She was also moved from her regular wing position, and over the summer was switched to lock. “I really enjoy it because I feel like I get into it a lot more.”
“It was beyond what I thought I could do,” she added.
Lora Lee, who has been playing rugby for the past five years, is Rimbey’s second returning player to nationals, as, along with Courtney, she was accepted to the team last year.
This year Lee says she was less confident going into tryouts, but saw her confidence increase as the sessions progressed. “I didn’t even go to the first two tryouts because I was gone.”
“I guess I pulled through though,” she added.
For nationals this year, Lee is hoping to see her skills as a player expand, as well as the team itself as she takes her position next to other returning teammates and new faces.
“Same as last year, I was really excited to get the opportunity again,” said Lee.
Burchnall just started playing rugby this past year while attending her Grade 10 classes, and made the national team her first year in the sport.
“I was really excited and kind of surprised,” said Burchnall.
Rugby is a popular sport in Rimbey and Burchnall says she had multiple people encouraging her to get into the sport.
Regarding the championships, Burchnall is looking forward to getting the opportunity to play for the Alberta team, “Probably just to play some really good rugby and hopefully do really well.”
*This story has been edited to include Lee’s comments