The undefeated Red Deer Titans Rugby Club recently won the U18 Girls Provincial Championship after defeating the previously undefeated Edmonton Nor’Westers 107-0.
The Titans were led by seven players who competed for championship-winning Team Alberta in the Canadian Rugby Championship, which was in Calgary earlier this month. Team Alberta defeated Nova Scotia 43-10.
“The girls worked really, really hard this year and pulled off quite a feat—they went undefeated,” Coach Kenton Poelzer said. “The average win margin was over 80 points on the season.”
Poelzer noted win margins were high, however, that was not necessarily indicative of a poor league, as the Titans grew throughout the year and faced many challenges.
“We built a really positive environment that brought the girls out,” he said. “They worked hard throughout the offseason; they worked out together; they trained together and they just really enjoyed rugby and each other. They were able to bond well and play together all season long.
“We reaped the benefits of that.”
Team captain and departing veteran Courtney Holtkamp was pleased with the Titan’s season.
“It was amazing,” she said. The girls worked so hard this season and it was great to see all our hard work pay off. I couldn’t be prouder of this team.”
The championship year is a sign that Titans Rugby has once again become a force in provincial rugby, something that was inconceivable five years ago according to Poelzer.
“Everyone is pretty thrilled to see how far it has come,” he said. “I had to remind the girls that it took us five years to get here. Through that time we saw some girls that worked really hard to build the culture. That really paid off this year.”
Holtkamp has seen the progression first hand.
“This team has improved so much since I started,” she said. “That is mostly because our team culture has taken on a bigger role. We are more of a family and because we are so closely bonded, we see more success on the field.”
The Titans promise to be strong once again next year, despite losing some high-calibre talent.
“We have 12 graduating players and 15 that are planning on returning,” Poelzer said. “There are some other players within Central Alberta that we have recruited out of the high school league. The players leaving are spectacular on and off the field. We will miss them a tonne but I am confident we will find opportunities to replace them.”
The Titans rugby program is hoping to continue to provide avenues to solid competition for their players.
“The team is largely built around the Alberta Regional Championship, which is a tournament we played against the best all-star teams from Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge,” he said. “We came second in that tournament this year, which was a big deal for us.”
Holtkamp hopes the Titans will afford rugby women in Central Alberta the same opportunities that were given to her.
“This team is the reason I am the player I am today,” she said. “They are the reason and building blocks that have allowed me to step up and play for Alberta and Canada. Without this team, I would not have been able to play at those levels.”
This tournament and the opportunities to travel on rugby tours to places like California, Poelzer hopes, will provide an incentive for young players in Titans Rugby to stick with it.
Holtcamp added, “I’m proud of my U18 Titans’ season and I wish all the best to all of the girls who are still playing next year.”