School Hosts Historic Girls-Only Football Game in Sudbury

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The first-ever women’s football game at a Canadian high school saw hosts St. Benedict give up a narrow 17-14 decision against Ottawa’s St. Mark’s, but athletes say a brotherhood has formed that transcends the grill

GREATER SUDBURY, Ont. — St. Benedict’s Catholic High School made history Wednesday night by hosting the first-ever Canadian women’s high school football game.

The idea of ​​a women’s football team with tackle has been in the works for two years now since coach Kim Labrosse saw an opportunity to play against women’s football teams in Ottawa who had no one to compete against.

“Basically I contacted coach Andy Castellarin at St. Mark’s [High School in Ottawa] because he had started a program for girls [for tackle football] and he had no one to play with,” coach Labrosse said in an interview with Sudbury.com.

“So I had proposed a team here in St. Ben’s and then COVID hit. And, we had 60 girls, everything was fine. And we never went back to school,” Labrosse said.

While the COVID-19 pandemic put a pin in sports for most schools, when regulations began to be lifted this year, Labrosse was adamant that it would finally happen.

“There are 42 girls on the team and then there’s my coaching staff,” Labrosse said, describing the team members. “And lots of volunteer coaches and two teachers who are also part of the coaching staff.”

It was a long process but the day finally came on May 18 when the St. Ben’s team played against St. Mark’s at the James Jerome Sports Complex football field.

Although the St. Ben’s Bears lost 17-14 to St. Mark’s, the team was still thrilled.

“It feels good to be able to kind of be the first step for young girls entering grade 9 and for girls who are already on the team and will play next year. We kind of kick it off,” Jasmine Howell told Sudbury.com ahead of the game later in the day. Howell is an outside linebacker for the Bears and is in his senior year of high school.

“I think even if I make a mistake, which is inevitable, everyone makes mistakes, and this is my first real game of football, I’m still proud of us because no matter what we do in the game. ‘story’, Howell mentioned.

Playing on the all-girls soccer team has been empowering and a bonding experience for the student-athletes.

“We’re all different ages, we don’t have much in common,” said senior running back Hayley Deschênes. “But then football brings us all together. It really is a team sport. You cannot have one person better than all the others. If you don’t have a well-functioning team, there’s really nothing you can do. So everyone has to work together.

“I thought a lot of the girls at the start of the season were a little shy,” added Amelia Bois, a Grade 11 defensive tackle for St. Ben’s.

“And now it’s like we’re all one big brotherhood. And it’s so great to have us all together. And play as a team and really do all that work. It’s incredible.”

And while the girls are proud to be set a precedent for the nationthere’s one person in the school who couldn’t be more proud of the team and how far we’ve come.

“Well, I couldn’t be more proud of these young ladies who have the guts to put on all this gear and tackle each other,” manager Laura Kuzenko said. “I’m also very proud of Coach Labrosse, his vision and his determination to get things done.

“I’ve watched these girls grow from grade 7 and now they’re in grades 11 and 12. And seeing them go down in history is… I’m truly speechless.”

Eden Suh is a new media reporter at Sudbury.com.

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