Marissa Walcott’s third season with the Tommies women’s rugby team ended short when she broke her nose and got a concussion in the same tackle.
She took the time to recover, and suited up for the Fredericton Loyalists rugby club the following summer.
The next August she gave birth to her son Abel. She was back on the field with the Loyalists a month later.
Walcott wasn’t letting a knock to the head or having a baby keep her from playing rugby.
“People thought I was kind of crazy,” Walcott said. “My team was excited. I was definitely a lot slower though.”
Walcott graduated from STU last spring, and is now in the social work program. She’s a mother, a student and the 2014-2015 St. Thomas female athlete of the year.
“I was super surprised and really excited,” she said. “For a fall sport, the season goes by so fast – you kind of feel like everybody’s forgotten about you by the time the banquet rolls around.”
Growing up, the Oromocto native played a variety of different sports. From judo and wrestling to volleyball and field hockey, Walcott has a diverse athletic resume. Her older brother played rugby, and she was fascinated by the sport, so she showed up to practice with the Loyalists women’s team when she was just 13 years old.
“I wasn’t allowed to play games,” she said. “It wasn’t until I was 14 that I actually got to play a few games.”
Since then, lacing up the rugby cleats is something Walcott has learned to appreciate.
“It’s taught me how to be tough,” she said. “You can break your nose and keep going… There’s always something you can do on the rugby field.”
Being tough is something Walcott knows about all too well. Walcott juggles being a student, an athlete and a parent.
“It was definitely a balancing act,” she said. “School is supposed to come first, but then Abel comes first before anything. And then rugby, I want it to come before school but that doesn’t work out all the time.”
Since she began playing at STU, Walcott has helped lead the Tommies to three ACAA championship games. She’s won two banners with the team – the third slipped away when the Tommies were defeated by Mount Allison in the fall.
Walcott enjoys the quality of rugby the ACAA has to offer, but the main reason she likes playing at STU is because of the people she plays with.
“The group of girls we have are so dedicated – they’ll do anything for you,” she said.
When she gave birth to her son, Walcott’s teammates provided a valuable support network.
“There were a lot of times I brought Abel to practice with me,” she said. “On Wednesdays, I didn’t have a baby sitter, so it was just me and him running up the sidelines with a stroller.”
Along with being named female athlete of the year, Walcott was also named the Tommies’ most valuable player and an ACAA all-star.
Since Walcott took a year off, it means she will still have another year of eligibility playing with the Tommies in the ACAA. She’s looking forward to another season with a group that has made her experience at STU successful and enjoyable.
“I just like being around my team,” she said. “Once you’re around them so much, they become your core group of friends.”