By Thomas Becker
This year's women's rugby skills camp was a resounding success as 30 high school students from across the Island participated in the event hosted by UPEI.
Panthers head coach John LaBoyne and his assistant James Voye headlined the April 28 seminar. Joining the coaches were several current players, including fifth-year veteran Niki Triantafillou, who will compete an AUS championship beginning in September.
"The camp is put on every year by current members of the UPEI women's rugby team," she said. "We cover in detail multiple skills of the game and provide one-on-one feedback as much as possible. We felt it was very successful and we believe we were able to make an impact on these players' skill level and confidence in the game."
Rugby is an unfamiliar sport to many, so by hosting the annual camp, the Panthers brass hope to turn that precedent around. The camp covered several skills that define the game, including how to tackle and how to safely absorb a tackle, rucking, passing and scrums.
"Overall, the girls grasped the skills and techniques. They were very coachable and willing to learn. They asked lots of question and were very engaged and focused during the day."
Triantafillou believes several of the girls who participated have a real shot at cracking a varsity roster when they move on to university.
"Coming to camps like this, getting as much experience and feedback as possible and exposing yourself to the coaches will help get these girls to the next level. The key is to continue working at it."
And there are plenty of opportunities throughout the region where these young women can continue to develop as prospects, Triantafillou said.
"Playing provincial rugby in the summer and with the Charlottetown Rugby Football Club (CRFC) will again expose them to higher level of play. I know some of these girls have already fallen in love with the game, just as my teammates and I have. And that's where the drive to play at the next level has to start."