For the first time since 2005, the Laurier women’s rugby team enters the OUA playoffs with a winning record.
Starting outside center Tamika Marks-Grant is a 5th year player who has been there through the dark days for the women’s rugby team. “My first two years on the team did not win a single game.” Grant-Marks recalls losing a game to Guelph 108-0 during her first two season. Losing was uncommon for Marks-Grant who won an OFSSA gold medal with Guelph high school Centennial in 2009.
It wouldn’t be until her third year on the team that Marks-Grant would finally win her first game as a Golden Hawk. The team qualified for the playoffs, but we quickly eliminated in the quarterfinals.
Grant-Marks missed her fourth year due to a concussion, but the team would again improve by a win, finishing at 2-3. For the second straight year, the team would again be quickly dispatched from the playoffs in the quarterfinals.
Grant-Marks can pinpoint a few reasons why the team has improved to 3-2 this season. “In my ﬁrst year, we barely had enough healthy girls to ﬁeld a team. There was about 20 max, but most of the girls were injured and were not able to play. This year has been the ﬁrst time we have had a full 30 girl, enough to scrimmage with in games. The large numbers this year also helps to keep momentum since we have the subs there when someone goes down. This year we are more conﬁdent in our skills and our teammates. We also have about fourteen vets, either in fourth or ﬁfth year, who are hungry for wins.”
Saturday, the team travels to London to take on Western in the quarterfinals. Grant-Marks described the feeling within the team when they clinched a playoff spot. “We were all excited and overjoyed. We know we are a team that can compete with the best. It has taken us awhile to get to this point where we have a real shot at advancing past the quarter ﬁnals.”
Two weeks ago Laurier faced Western and lost 46-14. However, this has not discouraged Grant-Marks or the team. “We expect to win. The last game we had against them during the regular season we mentally entered the game expecting not to perform well and that was reﬂected in the game. When we enter games with conﬁdence we are able to play great rugby. The game we just played against Waterloo Warriors (Laurier won 52-17) is an example of how entering a game with conﬁdence allows us to control the game. We want to come out of the gate running hard and not letting up for the full 80 minutes. We want to redeem ourselves!”
Game notes: Laurier lost to Western 64-19 on October 17th. An early injury to Laurier’s starting fullback 15 minutes in forced several lineup changes. Western gain momentum after several back to back tries and there was no looking back for the Mustangs. Grant-Marks described the outcome as “a very tough loss.”