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Flyer rugby player looks to represent Alberta

Sidney Wolff in action at the Alberta Regional Championships in Edmonton. Photo by Glen Freeman

An F.P. Walshe Flyer has an opportunity to play rugby sevens for Alberta.
Sidney Wolff, a 17-year-old Grade 12 student at F.P. Walshe, is one of 33 players invited to the U18 tryouts.
“It’s intimidating but exciting,” Wolff said of being selected. “I am honoured to have been nominated and will do my best at the tryouts.”
The players were long-listed for the Alberta team following the Alberta Regional Championship tournament Jan. 18-19 at Foote Field Dome at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
Wolff lined up at prop and center for the Deep South team and was impressed by the level of competition in the tournament.
“We played against teams that train year round,” Wolff said. “At that level there are very few injuries and the games are tough but run smoothly.”
Wolff took up rugby at the urging of her Grade 6 teacher, Andrew Walmsley, who coaches the F.P. Walshe Flyers.
“He was my teacher in Grade 6 and encouraged me to try out. I was too nervous to do it that year but I did try out in Grade 7 with some extra encouragement from my friends Tess and Hannah.”
Walmsley said Wolff has developed into a top player with the Flyers.
“She works hard to improve her game and to become a student of the game,” Walmsley said. “One of her main strengths is her timing. She has a good ability to spot gaps in the defence and time her runs so she surprises defenses with how quickly she hits the line. She is a fearless player, who is aggressive on defence and never misses tackles.”
Wolff was a multi sport athlete at F.P. Walshe but this year made the decision to concentrate on rugby.
“There is a better team atmosphere in rugby,” Wolff explained. “You are trained to be aggressive and hit people and yet still be respectful and supportive of your team and opponents.”
Wolff decided not to play volleyball and basketball in her Grade 12 year in order to attend the Junior Pronghorns Rugby Academy.
The Pronghorns train three times a week in Lethbridge, and Wolff said the experience has elevated her game.
“Getting out on the field more has taught me more skills and how to better view the game,” she said. “We also meet with a personal trainer twice a week which has taught me discipline with my health and challenges my physical ability.”
That will all help the Fort Macleod youth achieve her next goal of suiting up for the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns.
Wolff’s immediate goal is to make the Alberta team that will play in the Western Canadian Championships.
She is also looking forward to the next high school season with the Flyers.
“This experience will bring a lot more confidence to my high school season,” Wolff said. “Plus I have more skill and strength then I had last year.”
Walmsley said the Flyers will count on Wolff to play a bigger role in their success this season.
“She will be called on to be a very visible leader in our program this season,” Walmsley explained. “She has quietly transitioned into one of our most steady, reliable players but with the large group of strong players in the grade ahead of her hasn’t been viewed as a leader per se. This year with her being in Grade 12 that’s a role she will have to take on. Being successful at a higher level with other high level athletes will give her the confidence to assume that role.”
Walmsley said Wolff will benefit from her Alberta experience by being exposed to new coaches who will teach different aspects of rugby.
Wolff will also have to raise her level of play, competing against other elite players.
The Flyers will have 10 returning players this season with experience at the regional sevens and 15s rugby tournaments.
Wolff encourages more Flyers to take part in the Alberta Regional Championships next year and to pursue their rugby goals.
“It’s not as scary as it looks,” Wolff said.

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