Vancouver, BC – November 14, 2018: At the unveiling of the BC Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2019, Kelly McCallum has been announced as rugby’s first female inductee into the illustrious institution. The veteran of two Women’s Rugby World Cups (2002 & 2006), who amassed an impressive 30 caps, will be officially inducted at the gala dinner and ceremony on May 23, 2019 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
The announcement that she was to be included in the BC Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2019 was clearly a proud moment for McCallum. “We used to do numerous trips to the BC Sports Hall of Fame from our elementary school and I used to be that girl going ‘I wonder if I’ll ever be on the other side‘ while looking at athletes and people who have done remarkable things over the years,” she noted during an interview with Tom Mayenknecht on The Night Market.
Despite showing a clear flair for sporting pursuits during her school years, her introduction to Rugby came about almost by accident. Showing up late to watch a male friend playing rugby at Douglas College, she inadvertently came across a women’s rugby match. “I didn’t even know women played rugby at the time,” explained McCallum, who was encouraged to get involved right there and then. Something significant must have blossomed in that initial encounter, as she soon left the sports of water polo and soccer behind and became dedicated to rugby.
As captain of Douglas from 1999 to 2002, McCallum led the Premier side in winning two of four provincial finals. Throughout her career with Douglas, she received several Outstanding Back and Most Valuable Player Awards and in 2001-2002 was named the BCRU Player of the Year, the first woman to be accorded this honour. In inter-union and inter-provincial competition, McCallum was a standout player and captain for both the Fraser Valley and British Columbia. She represented the Province over a total of six years, including the 1994 season when BC claimed the National Championship. From 2002 to 2008, she played overseas with Richmond (England) and Sydney University (Australia). In 2002-03, she was Richmond’s Premier team’s Outstanding Back and in 2004-05 was the Most Valuable Player. She also found time to coach the Richmond Academy from 2002-2004.
With such significant success in domestic rugby, it wasn’t long before international opportunity came knocking at McCallum’s door. First capped for Canada Women’s XVs in 2001 against the USA, she went on to accumulate 30 caps in just six years, along with appearances in the 2002 and 2006 Women’s Rugby World Cups. From 2004 to 2006 she captained the National Women’s XVs team for a total of 16 matches. During her time with the national team, she represented Canada with pride and distinction and was an excellent role model for all young women with her dedication to be the best. With her discipline and leadership McCallum was instrumental in building a foundation and culture within the women’s program.
Ric Suggitt, former Canadian men’s coach and head coach of the USA Women’s Seven’s team, had this to say about her: “She has demonstrated the ability to keep schedules and manage timelines while she balanced the basic needs of the team and a work schedule. Kelly has been able to maintain and implement the team culture from one year to the next and has helped new players adjust to the increased training regimes and changes in coaches. She attended to every technical detail of her position of her position and all the while ensuring that the players around her were prepared for all the critical points in the women’s game plan.”
Even when she called time on her professional playing days, rugby has continued to be an integral part of McCallum’s life. Having already been involved in developing women’s rugby at junior levels, initiating and coaching girl’s rugby at Elgin Park Secondary School in Surrey at the turn of the century, coaching became the next evolution of this talented athlete’s rugby career. Taking her around the world to the likes of Japan and her current home, New Zealand, McCallum would invest the same passion, commitment and dedication to fostering new generations of female rugby players as she had previously as a player.
Despite no longer residing in the Province, Kelly McCallum has always been an exceptional ambassador for BC and the sport of rugby. This commitment and professionalism, along with he numerous achievements, was recognised in 2015 when she was inducted into the BC Rugby Hall of Fame, the first female to be inducted in the player category. Her upcoming induction into the BC Sports Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2019 is further recognition of a wonderful rugby talent and champion of the sport.
The BC Sports Hall of Fame Induction Gala will take place at the Vancouver Convention Centre on May 23, 2019. Tickets are available now and are anticipated to sell out, so make sure you get yours quick – Details Here