By Chadd Cawson
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Kids ages three to twelve had the opportunity to gain a new skill at Invermere’s first-ever ‘Try Rugby Day’ which took place on the field of David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) on Saturday, June 11 from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. The event was free for participants and attendees.

 “This was our first Try Rugby Day,” says assistant coach Kelsey Olson. “It was for the kids in the community to come out and have some fun and try something different.”

Kids were broken up into smaller age groups for an afternoon of trying out some non-contact ‘Rookie Rugby.’ “I think having non-contact eases the fears of some parents and we are just starting off slow,” says Olson. “If this is a success and we get a lot of interest we’d like to have a regular rookie program start next year on consecutive Saturdays for a month or two, that way by the time kids get to grade eight they’ve already experienced and played some rugby.” 

High school students made the trip from Fernie to play in a mixed-team jamboree with students from DTSS for some fun matches played from 3 to 4 p.m. 

“We didn’t have enough numbers to field two separate teams. But this gave the kids a chance to play with some new faces and everyone got equal game time,” said Olson. 

Those in attendance on Saturday were able to give in to the wafting smells of hamburgers, and hotdogs with the Grad Fundraiser BBQ set up on the sidelines.  Much appreciation extends to the sponsors of the event The Station Pub, AG Foods, and Sobeys. The BBQ was a hit, raising $100 that will go towards David Thompson’s Grade 12 graduation ceremony to take place on June 28.

DTSS is located on the unceded territories of the Secwépemc and Ktunaxa People and the land chosen as home by the Métis Peoples of B.C. The school has had three seasons of rugby in the past. However, the lull brought on by Covid-19 brings a brand-new batch of students to learn and love the game. 

“Last Saturday was the very first day Invermere has ever had ‘Rookie Rugby’ as well as a home game in Invermere for the high school students,” says Olson. “We don’t have a big team, it’s just building, and we just work with what we’ve got.”

Rugby has its fair share of competition with other great sports happening in the valley like baseball, soccer, and badminton, but the team Olson is a part of building has already 15 players and counting. “It’s something new. Rugby is a growing sport in Canada, so it’s just something for the kids to come out and try. It’s just something we are going to keep building on,” says Olson. “We see a lot of friendships built that might not have if it was not for this common interest. We see kids from all different backgrounds come out to play rugby. It encourages them to come out of their comfort zones and that’s where amazing things happen.”