Part two of our series on BC athletes who have gone through the PRCs and then onto the national level is on Richmond and Westshore’s, Valerie Wideski.
Valerie Wideski played in the PRCs and represented Canada and BC. Now, she has reached new heights, getting her first invitation to a national team camp this May. But, you might not know she almost stopped playing rugby after high school. After she graduated last year, there was a point in her life where rugby didn’t look like it would be a part of her future. “It was after summer rugby that I kind of lost touch with it. I started working and wasn’t playing much”. It was a trip to Vancouver Island that kicked it back into gear for Valerie, the Vancouver Wave versus Vancouver Island Tide game spurred interest in her from Island club teams. After a few teams expressed interest, she decided to sign up with Westshore.
Living in Victoria and playing for Westshore may have been just what Valerie needed as she describes the rugby community on the Island being like one big family. She counts her coach at Westshore, Barbara Mervin, as one of her heroes. Having Mervin close is good because she can offer Valerie mentorship on the rigors of balancing work and life commitments with high-level rugby appointments.
It’s these strong women that Valerie looks up to and really gets excited about when talking about rugby. For her, rugby’s more than an exciting sport, it’s about women and girls getting away from what people tell them they can and can’t do. “I love seeing girls play rugby and going against what society says, like ‘Girls can’t be strong, and girls can’t do the same things that men can. Rugby’s definitely a sport that taught me my strength. I would love for girls to witness that for themselves and know how strong they can really be”.
The national camp at Shawnigan was no different. Even though she was nervous, Wideski ended up having a great camp after receiving amazing support from the other players. “They’re super competitive and super supportive. If they see you being down on yourself, they’ll take you aside and talk to you, even if it’s in the middle of the drill. That helped me a lot”.
Valerie’s rugby journey started in high school and eventually led to PRCs. She credits regional competitions for building a strong ladder to national level rugby. “BC has good development programs and the coaches are great at giving feedback at events. I think it (women’s rugby) is going to go really well because BC Rugby is really good at how they treat their athletes. The academy camps are a big part of bringing kids up to play. The BC coaches go to those and give feedback and it’s nice to hear that”.
For now, she is enjoying life in Victoria and enjoying rugby. In August, she will move back to Vancouver to spend some time with her mom before moving to attend Acadia University in Nova Scotia on a scholarship.
Image courtesy of Eileen Depeel