Two-sport star shines for Queen’s Gaels, national rugby teams – The Kingston Whig-Standard

Posted: October 19, 2019 at 9:46 am

Ive always admired multi-sport post-secondary student-athletes who can organize and adhere to demanding timetables, who excel in a two-pronged pursuit of higher education and championship trophies. Admittedly, this comes from someone whod be hard-pressed to get a one-float parade up and running. Still, its not hard to marvel at the exploits of Sophie de Goede, a two-sport star at Queens University.

The Victoria, B.C., native is a member of two varsity womens teams: basketball and rugby. She plays the former very well, the latter exceedingly well, while maintaining a lofty 3.9 grade point average in the third year of a challenging commerce program. She is first and foremost, as is any successful student/jock(ette) who competes on more than one varsity playground, a master of time management. Ask her and she will tell you that it is an essential attribute on the road to success in both disciplines. Time management skills, as the saying goes, are old hat for her, and they were long before she ever pulled on a tricolour jersey.

Im used to it, de Goede says nonchalantly, momentarily interrupting a Sunday study session to take a phone call from a newspaper hack. The two-time Academic All-Canadian is pleasant, polite, cheerful, simply flat-out nice all of which belies her well-earned reputation as a rugged, tenacious, fearless force on the pitch, so fit as to be practically inexhaustible. Wonderfully skilled, she is arguably the best rugby player in university today. She speaks of long-ingrained habits and a structured regimen that she began practising, in earnest, in high school, with hectic schedules routinely peppered with class times and plenty of practice/game times. Her high school sports included you get winded just reading the list rowing, soccer, field hockey, swimming, volleyball, basketball, cross-country, track and field and, of course, rugby. That excludes the rep roundball and Rugby Canada age-group clubs she played on and sometimes captained. (She was already a nationally carded rugby sevens athlete while in high school.)

My parents made sure I played other sports, de Goede recalls, and because I played other sports, its made me a better, more well-rounded rugby player. But my parents never pushed me towards rugby.

They didnt have to.

She was sold on the game practically by the time she was out of pull-ups. De Goede remembers scampering on the sidelines as a toddler while her dad coached a Victoria rugby club team, and just as often being on another sideline near her mom, who guided the same clubs womens side. Such front-row raw exposure to the sport at an early age was one reason why rugby took hold, osmosis-like.

The other reason was genetics. Sophie is a chip of the old block make that two old blocks the latest link in a regal rugby lineage. Her father, Dutch-born Hans de Goede, was a hard-nosed, no-nonsense lock forward who captained Canada in the first World Cup (1987). Her mom, Stephanie White, a Calgary native, was the inaugural captain of a Canadian womens side. Their distinguished playing and coaching careers were cited during eachs respective induction into the Rugby Canada Hall of Fame. Its an enviable ancestry, the equine equivalent of having Northern Dancer and Seabiscuit as your ma and pa. Youre born to run, baby, or in the case of the contact-craving de Goede, run around, over or through.

Team Canada senior womens coach Sondro Fiorino calls de Goede an exceptional, extremely gifted player. He coached her this summer when she joined the senior womens 15s for a Super Series tournament in San Diego.

Youve heard of the five-tool player in baseball? Fiorino asks before finishing his point. In rugby, its a four-tool player and Sophie possesses all four tools: speed, skills, size and smarts. Shes strong, agile, athletic, fast and intelligent. And she kicks for points. Not many forwards do that.

For good measure, he adds: Shes the fittest player in Canada, hands down. Her fitness scores are through the roof.

That glowing assessment doesnt surprise Mikela Lehan, an ex-Gaels rugby teammate who now manages the Gaels team. Lehan recounts a story from de Goedes very first day at training camp. Wed heard about this good first-year player coming from B.C., but you know, you never know what that persons going to be like, Lehan says. Sophie shows up just as were about to run our 1,600 metres, then she goes out and laps just about everyone.

As for de Goede the person, Lehan lauds. She is the most well-rounded person I know. She excels in every part of her life: friends, family, school, sports, socially. Sophies in her own category.

Ditto in university womens rugby. De Goede came to Queens asRugby Canadas reigning female player of the year after having spent the previous campaign training with the national sevens side. In her Golden Gaels debut, she tallied two tries and three converts, later copping OUA rookie-of-the-year laurels.

Her sophomore season brought OUA and U Sports player-of-the-year kudos, and this year de Goede, six feet and a solid 180 pounds, has upped her game and repeated as OUA top player.

Sophs a generational player, states her Queens coach, Dan Valley, who moonlights as an assistant with the Canadian senior womens club. Shes humble and helpful, a collection, really, of every positive sports cliche out there, an absolutely incredible talent and ultimate team player.

On the hardwood, de Goede isnt exactly taking up space.

In her freshman year, she played nearly 20 minutes a game and averaged seven rebounds and a hair under 10 points per outing. Despite missing half of her second season due to an injury sustained at the 2018 rugby nationals, she still finished second on the Gaels in rebounds.

Shes already a solid, dependable player, womens basketball coach James Bambury notes on his heady, agile charge, and we expect she will take a giant leap this season because of the commitment she made to the team this summer. He alludes to a month of training that de Goede put in with her hoops mates prior to leaving for the rugby Super Series, then an additional month after she returned.

Shes so versatile, the coach adds. Were comfortable using her at any position, one through five. She can run, shoot, pass, defend, rebound and has phenomenal vision on the floor.

Because the two sports overlap slightly, Bambury says de Goede, 20, will not play in any basketball games until the rugby campaign is over. With the (rugby) national championship on the table, we wont interfere. An exception was made for the recent McGill/Queens exhibition game commemorating the 100th anniversary of the first university womens basketball tilt between the same two schools. Citing its historical significance, de Goede asked to play, then went out and drained a team-high 20 points in her 20 minutes of floor time.

The pursuit of higher education is proceeding well. Now its time to chase down a national title. The unbeaten Gaels rugby unit, with its two-sport linchpin leading the way, competes in the eight-team U Sports womens rugby championship tournament, Oct. 30 to Nov. 3, in Ottawa.

Patrick Kennedy is a retired Whig-Standard reporter. He can be reached at pjckennedy35@gmail.com

See the article here:
Two-sport star shines for Queen's Gaels, national rugby teams - The Kingston Whig-Standard

Related Post

Comments are closed.

Archives