Langley’s Mackenzie Lee (with ball) in action with the UBC Thunderbirds during their game against the Calgary Dinos last season. Lee was in Ontario last week helping the B.C. senior women’s team to a third-place finish at the Canadian women’s national championships.

Giving rugby a try paying off for Langley’s Lee

Langley's Mackenzie Lee returns from Canadian senior national
championships with eye on playing for Team Canada

  • Aug. 25, 2016 12:00 p.m.

When Mackenzie Lee was approached about giving rugby a try, she initially resisted.

Lee was a Grade 10 student at Walnut Grove Secondary, and her PE class was conducting fitness testing.

“Coach (Jon Fast) saw that I was quite quick and he thought I would do really well if I was running down the field with a rugby ball (in my arms),” recalled Mackenzie Lee.

“I told him ‘no, I am a soccer player.’”

Up until that point, Lee was a high-level soccer player, playing at the Metro level.

But a few months later, Lee realized she was bored with the sport.

“I just got tired off it,” she admitted.

“I had been playing it for nine years and I think at that age, I had gone as far as I wanted.”

Plus, two of her best friends had also joined the Walnut Grove rugby team.

“There was also that pull — I wanted to spend more time with them too — so it seemed like a good idea.”

And from the moment Lee stepped onto the rugby pitch, she was hooked.

“I loved it right away. I was obsessed,” she said.

Part of it was she felt more at ease with the rugby culture.

“It fit me more. It is not scary to hit people.

“I am quite strong and it was nice to feel like you fit in somewhere,” Lee said.

“I think I just had the mentality that this is where I fit in.

“It makes me sound crazy, but I guess the contact just makes it a little more fun.”

Her plan was to play through high school, but after graduating from Walnut Grove Secondary in 2013, she joined the UBC Thunderbirds women’s team. She also plays for the Burnaby Lake Rugby Club.

“In all honesty, I was going to stop playing after high school, but (continuing) is probably the best decision I ever made,” she said.

The 21-one-year-old was in Markham, Ont. last week, competing with the BC Rugby senior women’s team at the Canadian women’s national championships.

The team went 3-1 and finished in a three-way tie for top spot with Equipe Quebec and the Ontario Storm.

But the Quebec team — whose only loss was to B.C. — won the tiebreaker among the three and took top spot. B.C. was relegated to third.

Lee, who plays inside centre, finished tied for the team lead with three tries in the four games and her 15 points were tied for second.

“It was so amazing, so great,” she said of the experience, her first taste of provincial team action.

“It was an incredible experience (and) I learned so much about myself.

(This) solidified that I want to try and play for Canada and I learned it is a possibility for me to play for Canada, and not such an outlandish idea.”

“Mackenzie has a bright future,” said Maria Gallo, the head coach at UBC.

“I usually have her playing multiple roles on the team, either as a front rower or I have her in the back, so she is a huge contributor to the Thunderbird program.

“She is very coachable — just one of those kids who never gives up.”

Lee has started for UBC since her rookie season and is a big part of the team’s leadership core.

“I think if she keeps up with how she is going, dedicating some time in the gym — which has definitely been a priority of hers in the last year — she will definitely have a bright future,” Gallo said.

Lee is entering her fourth year at UBC — she still has two years of CIS eligibility remaining — and is set to graduate in 2017. She is studying speech science.

One of the biggest adjustments has been trying to maintain the student-athlete lifestyle, finding time for school, training, a social life and proper rest.

“Going into my grad year, that is the biggest thing, trying to prioritize (my time).

“But I couldn’t imagine my life without rugby,” Lee said.

“I would like to make it to Team Canada at one point, but in all honesty, my schooling is first, getting my masters, and then hopefully (playing for) Canada. That would be pretty cool.”

 

Just Posted

TWU-as-Team-Canada wins three in Brazil

Spartans are representing Canada in the inaugural FISU America Games

Langley City considering funding fence to keep homeless away from condominium

Report to council cites issues of “defecation, drug consumption, discarded needles, littering”

2018 Aldergrove Fair photo gallery

Good times from pony rides and petting zoo to free MainStage concerts

VIDEO: Granfondo gets underway in Langley

Organizers issue hot weather warning to participants in cycling event

54-40 thrills Aldergrove Fair crowd: VIDEO

54-40 were joined on stage by the band members’ dancing children, the “Aldergrove Rockettes”

BC Wildfire merges two Okanagan wildfires

Large plume of smoke seen over the fire was a controlled event

Why do they do it? Coaches guide kids to wins, personal bests at the BC Games

Behind the 2,300 B.C. athletes are the 450 coaches who dedicate time to help train, compete

Gold medallists at BC Games only trained together for 1 day

Ryan Goudron, Nathan Chan, Owen Pinto and Praise Aniamaka from Zone 4 - Fraser River ran together for the first time

Five taken to hospital after one of two Coquihalla accidents

One airlifted in critical condition, four taken via ambulance in stable condition

Government sets full-time salary range for Justin Trudeau’s nanny

At its top range, the order works out to a rate of $21.79 per hour, assuming a 40-hour work week

Lower Mainland teams battle for baseball gold at BC Games

Vancouver Coastal squeaked out a 3-2 win against Fraser Valley

Canada to resettle dozens of White Helmets and their families from Syria

There are fears the volunteers would become a target for government troops

Francesco Molinari wins British Open at Carnoustie

It is his first win at a major and the first by an Italian

Trio overcomes adversity at the BC Games

Zone 4 girl’s 3x3 basketball team fought through injuries and conflicting schedules

Most Read