Everybody loves a good comeback story.
Whether it’s an athlete who has battled back from an injury, a small business that has recovered from bankruptcy, or an author who has faced numerous rejections but gone on to become a bestselling writer, people are inspired by stories of obstacles overcome.
For those of us living in the waning months (touch wood) of a pandemic, comebacks look different for each person.
But for Leaside High School’s three rugby 7 teams, a comeback after two years of not being able to play came as full-fledged dominance.
All three varsity teams – the junior boys, the senior girls and the senior boys – won the City Championships on June 16th after a season of early morning practices and tournaments.
Jack Bryan, captain of the senior boys’ team, admits that “while not many people were huge fans of the early morning practices (run twice a week starting at 7:15), getting out for rugby after two years was incredible. It definitely felt like we were getting back to normal having sports back in our school life.”
The return of athletics was not only a thrill for the players but also a boost for the school as a whole. Attendance and enthusiasm at games were high, with all celebrating the seeming “normalcy” of sporting events.
Head coach Alf Scharlach notes that the team played in every condition from burning heat to heavy downpours but worked extremely hard, determined to succeed. “I was very happy for all the student athletes for having the opportunity to get back to school sports, staying committed over the season and being rewarded by doing so well at the Championships.”
And while Scharlach credits the players for their success, Mikela Scharlach, captain of the girls’ senior team, comments that “nothing would have happened without the dedication of our coaches and players.” That coaching team included both Scharlach and assistant coach Clinton Jang-Naruse.
Mikela, who has been recruited to play rugby for the University of British Columbia next year, notes the enthusiasm of the players. “…through rain and shine players always showed up with a smile on their faces ready to play.”
Dylan Hannon, captain of the boys’ junior team, and teammate Spencer King were fired up to be playing again. While Coach Scharlach points out that the boys’ team was an underdog heading into the finals, Hannon and King were determined for their team to come out on top. Using their position as underdogs and the success of the older teams as motivation, the team fought tooth and nail and came out on top in the last play of the game.
Many individuals, businesses and other sectors of society are easing back into a (mostly – touch wood again) post-Covid existence at various, often cautious paces.
But the three Leaside rugby 7 teams had one speed only. With commitment, determination, great coaching and a lot of skill, the teams forged head-on into seasons which ended in championships for all.
Congratulations to both the players and coaches!