Google and Beer – How I Found Pirates Rugby and Why I’m Glad I Did!

I came to the Pirates in a rather uncommon way. I’m not from Edmonton, I didn’t know a single girl on the team; I didn’t even know where the club was before I joined. Having recently moved to Fort Saskatchewan from Bonnyville, I was a new to the area and was finding it hard to meet people and make friends. Originally from Ontario, I was just getting comfortable in Bonnyville and this second move had left me without my family and with no sense of community. Needless to say, I wasn’t enjoying myself and felt pretty alone.

Enter Pirates Rugby club! After speaking (and drinking) with a friend who was coaching the Cold Lake team, I decided to end my seven-year hiatus and find a new club. Being the millennial that I am, I turned to Google to find a club close by and the Edmonton Pirates Rugby Club came up!  In my fearless, inebriated state, I emailed the women’s coach, Randi, asking about the team. She promptly replied, inviting me to come out, watch practice and meet the girls. I’ll admit, I was out of my comfort zone showing up to a practice for a team I didn’t belong to full of women I’d never met, but I got over my hesitation and showed up on a hot Tuesday in June. Randi introduced me to a couple of girls and we spoke about the schedule. I made the decision to commit to the team later that day; I missed the sport and thought that it would be a good opportunity to make some friends!

The next time I showed up to practice, Randi introduced me to the rest of the girls and I jumped right into the drills. It definitely took some work to get my skills back, but it was never something that I worried about because I always had such a good time. I can honestly say that I have never played for a team in any sport that has been so welcoming, inclusive, and supportive. Even though I was a complete stranger to these women, they made me feel like a Pirate from day one. Rugby practice quickly became the place where I could go to see my friends and have a great time, even on fitness days. Now that’s saying something.

The camaraderie extends beyond the field, too. Whether it’s going out for beers after practice, joining the team book club, or just meeting up for coffee and a good chat, I always feel welcome. What’s more, as a vegan, parties and social events usually mean going hungry for the night; but regardless of the occasion, if it’s a Pirates party, someone always makes sure I’m well fed. This club has an amazing sense of community that I count myself lucky to be a part of!

I know I’ve spoken a lot about the women’s team in particular, but I truly cannot say enough good things about this club as a whole. They’ve got strong leadership, they play fantastic rugby, and they’re great friends. So take it from me, whether you’re a guy or a girl, new to the sport, getting back into it, or a seasoned vet – if you’re looking for a club, a Pirates life is for you!

-NH

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