St. Thomas University women’s rugby coach Meghan Morrison and assistant coach Stephanie Carey are stepping down from their positions. Morrison has been with the team for seven years and Carey has been with the team for five.
Morrison, who spent two years as an assistant coach before taking over as head coach in 2014, said it was time to move on.
“The timing just feels right,” Morrison said in an email.
“Stephanie and I both have some changes coming up that will impact time and effort we can focus on our team,” Morrison said.
Carey had similar thoughts as she and her husband are expecting their first child in June.
Morrison and Carey made the decision together.
“The university season is exciting and enjoyable, but also very demanding … Meghan and I have brought this team to a good place so now feels like the right time for us to step back and allow someone new to step in,” Carey said.
Carey played rugby for three years at Saint Mary’s University before transferring to Dalhousie University where she completed her bachelor’s degree in health sciences.
Morrison and Carey will continue to be involved with rugby and they hope to keep developing as coaches.
Morrison will be working in New Brunswick rugby programs and will help train other coaches. She is also one of the coaches working with the NB Senior Women’s team and the New Brunswick Spruce Academy, which works with athletes of all different ages.
“I’m passionate about rugby and it’s development in our province and want to continue in that,” she said.
Carey will still be coaching at the high school level, as well as provincial levels like Morrison. However, she is uncertain if the future will bring her back to coaching at STU.
Fourth-year student Bailey Andrews, who played as a scrumhalf and flyhalf for the women’s rugby team, said both coaches are caring and positive.
“STU offered me a home away from home in my first year when I moved to Fredericton. I didn’t know anyone and my rugby team was who I turned to,” said Andrews.
“The atmosphere Meg and Steph created is something I will always remember and cherish.”
Andrews said having a positive relationship with coaches improves their team.
“Without caring and passionate coaches like Meghan and Steph, it would be impossible for rugby to grow.”
Fourth-year student Kristen Bulman, who played as a prop, lock and 8 man this season, said player-coach relationships are crucial.
“It helps build a better understanding of each other and sets standards for what the other may need,” said Bulman.
“It’s a huge loss for STU women’s rugby. They have contributed much of their time to enhance the efficiency of the program.”
As head coach, Morrison led her squad to four straight Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association finals.
But Morrison sees her departure as positive for the team.
“The proudest moments are still to come,” she said.
“We came in wanting to shift the culture in a positive way and grow the program in a sustainable way,” she said.
“A new coach is coming in to a great group of athletes and a supportive athletics department.”
Morrison and Carey said there are too many moments to pick a favourite, but both agreed that a game against Mount Allison University in their first season coaching together stands out.
“We played Mount A and it had snowed so the field was covered in snow and ice,” said Carey.
“The game went into double overtime so it was 120 minutes of rugby in winter conditions and the team played every minute without giving up. It has become a legend on the team. Meghan and I were so proud of the heart and hard work displayed by the team that day.”
Morrison said watching the athletes push themselves in tough competition and seeing their game grow is what they will be the most proud of, but they still feel the players and themselves have much more coming their way.
“The impact of those players of rugby and other parts of their lives after school is very meaningful and I feel so proud to have gotten to know them during their time at STU.”