Post 5: Incredible Player, Exceptional Human

Post 5: Incredible Player, Exceptional Human

Within the rugby community there are many successful people, men of course being recognized the most but also women who continue to thrive and inspire others on and off the pitch. One exceptional player that always stands out in my mind is Mandy Marchak, a former member of the Canadian National Women’s Sevens and Fifteens programs. She was recognized as a key player of the Canadian squad during an extensive career of 11 years in which she was known for her strength on the field and ability to battle through defenders. Partaking in two Sevens World Cups (2009 and 2013), three rugby union World Cups (2006, 2010 and 2014), and most recently her first rugby league World Cup in 2017 has made Marchak a rugby legend in Canada.

I met Marchak at my first rugby camp with the national team when I was sixteen, that was when she became my role model. Her personality was electric, she was so positive, kind and genuine off the pitch, you would never expect her to run you over in a game, but oh, she would. Her strength was incredible, and she proved to be fearless, there wasn’t a challenge she wouldn’t take head on. These were just my first impressions of her.

When I got the opportunity to be with the national team full time, I was honored that Marchak and Ghislaine Laundry, another magnificent human, rugby player and role model, would have me as a roommate. I am grateful every day for these two individuals, both showing me what it takes to become successful by spending extra time with me going over game film, helping me with nutrition or reminding me to relax. Living with Marchak was also a daily reminder to smile, her quirky personality was contagious and always made training a delight.

Mandy Marchak retired from Team Canada in 2016 due to injury, but she still manages to make huge impacts in the sport itself and with the next generation of players. When she retired from playing, her rugby career didn’t stop there, she took on coaching to develop and continue to inspire young athletes. When I watch her coach, I can see her passion and love for the sport radiating through the players. She reminds me why I fell in love with rugby in the first place, the pure enjoyment, team comradery and unity that surrounds the rugby community.

A lot of people think of role models as the ones in the limelight, the stars, the captains or the “heroes” of a team. But to me, the exceptional ones are the work horses, the team players and the ones who remind you to bring your best to the table every day, without needing validation or credit from it. They are the ones who build you up and will be there for you no matter what. The ones you can trust on the field to have your back. The ones like Mandy Marchak, who have excelled in their career and continue to grow the rugby community. And the ones who do it all with encouragement and a smile on their face.

Myself (left), Jen Kish (middle), Mandy Marchak (right) celebrating my first try on the Rugby World Stage. Photo Credit to Kin Cheung / The Associated Press.

4 Replies to “Post 5: Incredible Player, Exceptional Human”

  1. Mandy truly is one of a kind. Well done on you to write about how special she is 🙂

    Keep up the great work!

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