As part of its 50th Anniversary Celebration, Canadian Interuniversity Sport presents the CIS 50th Anniversary Success Stories series. Each Thursday throughout the 2011-12 season, we will profile two alumni from CIS member institutions who have made outstanding contributions in areas such as sports, business, politics or in the community.
Pronghorns rugby star now a key member of Team Canada
Ashley Steacy honed her skills in the CIS and has taken those skills to the international stage
LETHBRIDGE - As one of the most decorated female rugby athletes
in the brief history of the CIS sport, Ashley Steacy (nee: Patzer,
Ashley recent married fellow Pronghorn and CIS champion track
athlete Sean Steacy) is just starting to make her mark on the world
women’s rugby scene.
The two-time CIS Player of the year and three-time CIS Champion has become a permanent fixture with both the Senior National full squad and Sevens teams with one goal in mind, representing Canada at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“Thinking about the possibility of going to the Olympics
is a pretty surreal thought,” commented Steacy. “It's a
very recent goal of mine and is still pretty far in the future, but
I'm trying not to think too much about the end goal, but rather all
the smaller steps leading up to it.”
A relative unknown from the small southern Alberta city of Lethbridge, Ashley burst onto the university scene in the fall of 2005, being named both the Canada West and CIS rookie of the year, and serving notice to Rugby Canada that she was an athlete worth watching. She’s thankful to have been able to use CIS sport as a springboard for success.
“I love being in an environment that continually pushes me to be better and learn new things,” said Steacy. “Being able to compete in my sport while receiving an education has meant the world to me. I wouldn't change or trade any part of my CIS experience.”
Steacy made her national team debut on the Sevens side in
February 2006 and the full squad in October 2007.
The offensive dynamo had her world coming out party at the 2009 Sevens World Cup in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Steacy finished fourth in tournament scoring with a team best 38 points. In the six games, she scored four tries and made nine converts, the second most in the tournament.
Last fall, despite breaking her hand only eight weeks prior, she suited up for the National Senior team at the Women’s World Cup in England. The team finished a disappointing fifth in the tournament but Steacy, as one of the youngest players on the team, is expected to be one of six or eight players that will make up the core group going forward.
Starting in January 2012 the national program will be centralizing for five months, with all the carded athletes moving to Victoria, B.C. During this time they will be training together five days a week and attend four tournaments, including a newly created Canadian event. Vegas Sevens and Hong Kong Sevens are two of the other tournaments on the schedule.
After five seasons in the CIS, Steacy amassed an impressive resume that included numerous individual accolades, but her most cherished memories are the team successes the Horns achieved. She concluded her CIS career with four consecutive Canada West titles and four CIS medals, including three consecutive CIS Championships from 2007-09.
Despite taking some time off to focus on her national team commitments and to play in New Zealand, Steacy will graduate this fall with a bachelor of arts in kinesiology.
“The CIS has given me the opportunity to learn and grow not only as an athlete but as a person as well,” said Steacy. “I've learned many life lessons over my 5 years of competing in the CIS. Playing at a high level in my sport has definitely been the highlight of my university experience.”