Jamee George of the Brandon Barbarians carries the ball up the field during the Prairie National Women’s Rugby Team tryouts held at John Reilly Field over the weekend. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
Rugby and the Brandon Barbarians will always be a part of Jamee George’s life, but now the 24-year-old Brandonite is contemplating what kind of role provincial and regional teams will have in her future.
George had an opportunity to represent Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta on the Prairie team that will compete at the National Women’s League tournament in Ottawa later this month, but opted against it.
While she has quite a few honours attached to her name — including being an Atlantic Conference university all-star in 2009, winning the CIS student-athlete and community service award in 2010, playing on Canada’s under-20 team and helping the St. Francis Xavier University X-Women win four medals at nationals — the Crocus Plains graduate felt the increasing costs of playing for the Prairie team didn’t mesh with the upcoming changes to her life outside of the sport.
George, who works as a personal trainer at Brandon University, is planning on going back to school to take education at BU. Her goal is to become a high school rugby coach one day, but it also gives her the option to be a substitute teacher as a backup plan if her business slows down.
"It’s a good feeling to know your future can be secured," she said. "As a personal trainer, you don’t have a secure paycheque. You don’t know if you’re going to work next week or tomorrow because it’s all when people want to book in with you.
"Although a lot of the job is sales, I don’t want to do that part. I don’t want to be that type of person to sell. If people want to train and get healthy, they’ll come to me. I’m not going to go out looking for it. That’s why I figured if I get my teaching degree and training slows down, then I’ll have something else to do."
George isn’t ruling out playing for provincial or regional teams in the future and she plans on being a leader for the Barbarians women’s team for years to come. In fact, the 5-foot-9 eight-man has stepped into a bigger role with the women’s squad this year.
Instead of just being a leader on the field, George has started to help coach during practices. She knows she won’t be able to play forever and sees a lot of potential in some of Brandon’s younger players, so she’s spreading her wealth of knowledge to them.
"Just frustrated playing at a level that I know our team can play better at, but we just don’t have a guide or structure," said George, who missed the team’s last two games after suffering whiplash and some small muscle tissue tears in her upper back in a recent car accident.
"Fitzy (men’s coach Jon Fitzpatrick) asked if I would help out more and I said sure because I knew it wasn’t going to make me a better player just going to practice and going through the motions," she said. "I figured if I have stuff to teach the girls to make them better, then I may as well make them better by giving them information so we’re all on the same page and that way we’re a better team together."
George and the Barbarians are off to a good start to the season, going undefeated in their first seven Rugby Manitoba matches and qualifying to play in Division 1 for the remainder of the year. That’s exactly what George wanted to see from the team, which she expects to win a championship this season.
"As long as we keep progressing and working on things at practice and getting everyone out to practice and keeping that intensity up, then we will win," she said. "When we played the Wanderers in Portage, we beat them something like 108-5 and the reason we beat them so well is we kept that intensity up, we didn’t let it down. As soon as teammates and players let down and say ‘We have it in the bag’ and relax, that’s when they get scored on. As long as we keep pushing and pushing and pushing, I think we will definitely take the championship this year."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 22, 2014