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PECI Panthers named to provincial rugby team

PECI's Kierstyn Bennett and Amanda Ostrander are writing their Grade 10 final exams this week, then it's all eyes on rugby 7 - a game of speed, skill and strength in a variation of traditional rugby as it has only seven athletes on the field for seven minutes per half.

Two Prince Edward Collegiate Institute students are on the ‘Highway to High Performance’ as new members of the Eastern Ontario Rugby 7s team. Their ultimate goal, the 2012 Ontario Summer Games, the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto and the sport’s debut at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
PECI’s Kierstyn Bennett and Amanda Ostrander are writing their Grade 10 final exams this week, then it’s all eyes on rugby 7 – a game of speed, skill and strength in a variation of traditional rugby as it has only seven athletes on the field for seven minutes per half.

“7s is a very fast and exciting game. The opportunity is brand new for this area,” said Rob Furmidge, PECI’s rugby coach.
In August 2011 Rugby Ontario released Highway To High Performance Program to identify talented 7’s players from across Ontario and develop them in regional based academies to compete in the 2012 Ontario Summer Games.

Furmidge describes the tryouts as nerve-wracking shark pools where challengers are competitive and ferocious but where character development is of equal importance. “Athleticism is what brought them there but (at Rugby 7 level tryouts) they also look at what they do outside of the game and their leadership skills.”

Bennett and Ostrander, who are on the Belleville Bulldogs U 18 roster, attended their first tryouts in January. It wasn’t until June they learned they had made the cuts.
“I was really excited and so proud,” says Bennett. “It’s such a big range from here to Ottawa – so many girls – so I wasn’t expecting it.”
“My mom and I opened the email at the same time,” said Ostrander. “We were screaming like we were on a game show.”
“These two girls are very coachable and really good team players,” says Kelly MacKay, PECI’s assistant coach with Lisa Fraser. “They have incredible skills, but they can also listen carefully and make adjustments throughout the game. Teams need the girls who are most coachable.”
Furmidge says that because rugby will be offered as a demonstration sport the the Olympics, all the countries are building their 7s programs.
“So as well as being special to make the Ontario team, it’s equally exciting to bring two kids from the County.”
But the students’ work has just begun.
“Training doesn’t stop just because they made the first roster. It’s very competitive. The competition is  stiff because there are so many good athletes who want to play.”
Bennett and Ostrander are on it. They have practices to attend and personal fitness to maintain – including wall squats, seven minute runs and repeated 100 metre dashes with one minute breaks in between.
“I want to show the coaches and team mates that we can do this together,” said Bennett. “I know the plays almost before they happen and I want to be able to show that. In the long-term, I am hoping for the Olympics.”
Ostrander agrees.
“As we progress I want to improve on what I can do and help the team to come together.”
Though they both mentioned some intimidation at tryouts, they’re thrilled to be named to the team and “really happy to have the opportunity.”
“I’m glad it’s the both of us,” said Bennett. “We been competitors since Grade 6 but we still manage to be friends.”

Filed Under: Local NewsPECI - It's a Panther ThingSports & Recreation

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