Kelowna, BC – February 6, 2020: BC Rugby Coach Leana Marton was the recipient of a Community Sport Hero Award, hosted by PacificSport Okanagan. The evening recognised and honoured local volunteers, athletes and service providers for their outstanding contributions to sport in the Okanagan community, with Marton noting that she was “honoured and humbled” when she found out.
Leana is a well-known figure in the rugby community here in BC, a character on and off the field and thoroughly dedicated to elevating both rugby as a sport and the players that she has trained. From her earliest days of coaching, initiating a girls rugby program at her old High School, she has dedicated he boundless energy to building confident and capable rugby players in the Okanagan region and beyond.
Leana has coached right across the spectrum in age-grade rugby, from high school to club, regional teams to provincial teams. Teams under her watchful eye have gone on to put Thompson/Okanagan Rugby on multiple podiums at the likes of the Provincial Regional Championships and Kamloops Sevens Tournaments. But medals is just part of the success and, as Leana is quick to point out, team culture and attitude are integral to her coaching ethos.
“Our ‘interior spirit’ is a big part of the rugby culture here. All that travel time together lets the players get to know each other and bond. We really are unique,” noted Leana when talking ahead of the award ceremony. “We are lucky to have a group of athletes who are talented, spirited and best of all, eager to be coached and love the game. They empower a great group of volunteers who love rugby just as much and want to see it develop. Organisations like CORE (Central Okanagan Rugby Enthusiasts) are instrumental in nurturing this growth with the likes of their CORD Academy, along with support from the likes of BC Rugby.”
Leana isn’t known for blowing her own trumpet, so one of the best ways to understand what makes her such a valued member of the rugby community in the Okanagan (and beyond) is to speak to players she has coached:
“Leana Marton or as all the boys call her, Marty, has had a huge impact on me as a rugby player and as a person. First off she has taught me how to truly buy into a program and to understand what it means to have my teammate’s backs on and off the field. She has also had an impact on me by showing that, no matter where you are from or what your background is, that with hard work and dedication you can reach your goals. Leana Marton has played such a special role in my rugby career and has had such a big impact on rugby as a whole in the interior that even with our ups and downs I still savour every moment I get to share with her still as my coach. We all love you Marty!”
– Finn Hussey (Kelowna Secondary & BC U17 Rep Player)
“Over the past 4 years Leana’s hard work and dedication has inspired us as rugby players to become more than we could have ever dreamed. She has the unique ability to positively believe in us when we couldn’t believe in ourselves. She trusted each of us even when we had our own doubts. She pushed us physically and mentally to become champions. Leana inspired us to become better athletes, but more importantly she has inspired each and everyone of us to become a better person. Congratulations Leana. And thank you!”
– Carlin Bordin-Slavens (Penticton Secondary & BC U17 Rep Player)
“Leana was my first rugby coach when I decided to try it out in grade 8. She has been a key puzzle piece for my development into the player that I am today. Leana always brightens my day when I see her at school and when I get to go practice. Without Leana I don’t know where my rugby career would have gone, but because she is in my life she has heightened my maximum rugby potential.”
– Storm Buck (Kelowna Secondary & BC Rep Player)
Despite classifying herself as an “old geezer”, Leana still has plenty of fire and passion to drive in to the sport of rugby in the future. “I want to continue to develop players at the grassroot level, but also showcase, empower and promote our awesome rugby players. They have such great potential, so I want to do what I can to get them to be even more competitive. I really believe some of these boys makes it to the Olympics in 2024 – Team Canada 7s. Boom!”
BC Rugby would like to congratulate Leana once again on this fantastic award and to PacificSport Okanagan for recognising her commitment to the sport of Rugby.