Dairy Farmers of Canada present Fuelling Women Champions: Lauren McEwen Feature
At only 24 years of age, Lauren McEwen has seen and done a tremendous amount through the sport of rugby. The Newmarket native began playing rugby at 14 years of age and has played club, varsity, provincial and national rugby ever since. Her journey has not been without challenges – mainly injuries – but McEwen continues to pursue her passion of playing rugby and has seen many successes throughout the process.
McEwen has always had a knack for sports. Before shifting her full focus to rugby in 2009, she played elite-level soccer and even represented Ontario on the provincial squad – as a goalie. Her debut with the Ontario Storm (now Blues) provincial program was on the Under-17 team in 2009, while playing club rugby for the Toronto Yeomen Lions.
Lauren knew she wanted to pursue rugby at a high level, when she first watched the National Senior Women’s team play, including the likes of Megan Gibbs, Brooke Hilditch and Kelly Russell.
“In 2009, I actually won Kelly Russell’s jersey when I was about 16 years old for a “Man of the Match” prize and it was – and still is – one of the coolest things that has ever happened,” she noted.
Lauren went on to play with the Under-17 team for two years, before taking a break because of injuries. She returned to provincial rugby two years ago to play for the Senior Women’s team and has been playing with the team ever since. Most recently, McEwen was a big part of the Blues’ Canadian Rugby Championship victory, leading the tournament with 26 points (4 Penalty Kicks, 3 Conversions) over four games. She has also represented Canada, as a member of the Under-18 team which travelled to San Diego and the U20 team which won the Nations Cup in 2013.
“I was nervous coming back to the Blues program two years ago, as I hadn’t played for Ontario for five years, but my coaches and teammates were really supportive, making the transition really smooth,” explained McEwen.
It would be an understatement to say that the injuries McEwen has faced throughout her career have been taxing. Along with other barriers she has had, McEwen uses the challenges she has faced to motivate her growth as a player.
“I have had two shoulder surgeries, a few nose reconstructions, a few concussions, a broken hand as well as the odd, sprained ankle and MCL,” listed McEwen. “I’ve also been cut from teams and not selected for tours. Like most athletes, these challenges are just more motivation to keep pushing myself.”
Despite these injuries and challenges, McEwen has not only had an impactful rugby career provincially and nationally, but she has also seen success in varsity and club rugby, as well.
In Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Women’s rugby, she played for the Queen’s University Gaels for five years. In her five years with the team, she was the OUA’s Most Valuable Player in 2013, a Russell Division All-Star in 2013, 2014 and 2015, and also won an OUA Championship with the Gaels in 2013-14.
She is now an Assistant Coach for the Women’s team, which placed second in the OUA and travelled to Lethbridge to play in the 2017 USports Women’s Rugby Championship.
In club rugby, she has recently been a part of the revival and growth of the Kingston Panthers Women’s program. Moving from the Greater Toronto Area to Kingston to attend school, she switched clubs from the Yeomen Lions to the Kingston Panthers. Since the Panthers’ Women’s program was restarted two years ago, the Panthers have won two summer league Championships and are well on their way to earning a spot in the Super League (Rugby Quebec).
“Our coaches John Phelan and Gary Gilks are so instrumental to our success and starting in 2018, we will have two women’s teams,” she exclaimed. “We have had tremendous support from our club and community and we continue to build on our success as a club!”
Lauren recognizes some of her role models along the way, as a big part of her personal success.
“I am so lucky to have had such inspiring women in my life,” she exclaimed. “When I was in high school and playing for the Toronto Yeomen I played with Brooke Hilditch, Shelley Shaw and Lisa Newton. Brooke played 10, I played 12 and Shelley played 13, so naturally I had constant feedback - mostly positive - and I learned so much from them!”
“Along with Brooke, Shelley and LIsa, I have had inspirational women in my life like Sonia Sennik, Jenn Boyd, Beth Barz who continue to challenge and support me,” McEwen added. “I am so grateful to have such powerful female role models in my life that surround me every day, from the incredible athletes I coach, to my hardworking teammates, and most importantly my partner Morgan McHaffie (former national hockey player) who will run stairs with me at 10pm on a Tuesday and kick my butt.”
Looking onward, McEwen noted some changes she would like to see in women’s rugby including increased funding for women’s rugby in Canada, more professional development opportunities for coaches at the high school and younger age-grades, as well as more women coaching women in rugby.
When asked to give advice to aspiring female rugby players, Lauren said, “Try to be the hardest working athlete on and off the field and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable! Cherish the friendships you make and the intangible moments because at the end of day it’s just a sport, so enjoy it!”
ABOUT FUELLING WOMEN CHAMPIONS
As champions of healthy living, providing nutrition and playing an active role in our communities, Canada’s dairy farmers’ mission is to see that no hurdle exists that might hinder the passion for the game. The goal: to support women’s sports so they will become more watched, more appreciated and more financially stable, from the grassroots level to the elite level.
Visit womenchampions.ca to learn more
ABOUT RUGBY ONTARIO
Rugby Ontario is the provincial sports governing body responsible for the organization of rugby in Ontario. Our mission is to establish a stronger identity for rugby in Ontario by promoting the sport’s core values and by fostering a culture of inclusiveness and excellence on and off the field of play.
To learn more, visit http://www.rugbyontario.com/
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Communications Coordinator - Rugby Ontario