“Meet a Gee-Gee” takes a look at the people under the jerseys. Whether they’re varsity athletes or otherwise, we ask the players questions you want answers to. We get the dirt, straight from the horse’s mouth.
MEET NATASHA WATCHAM-ROY: fifth-year health sciences student and member of the women’s rugby team. This summer she travelled to Kazan, Russia to compete with fellow Gee-Gee Sarah Meng in the FISU 2013 Summer Universiade, where she helped secure a bronze medal against Great Britain. But this was not the first time she had represented Canada on the international rugby scene. In 2010, her team placed fourth at the FISU Worlds Event in Portugal. Let’s see what it takes to get on her level.
The Fulcrum: You recently travelled to Russia to compete in the 2013 Summer Universiade. How did it feel to represent Canada for a second time?
It was definitely a different experience, because I’m older. My first year, I was 17 when I first stepped on the field, so I think being older I was able to embrace it more.
It was amazing. There are really no words to describe [how it felt] just running onto the field with my teammates.
Was it different playing with teammates you normally play against?
It’s not too bad. Everyone is pretty easy going and we had a really good team. Usually it’s not awkward. Rugby players hate each other on the field but [always] come together at the end. So it wasn’t hard at all.
Do you have any rivalries during the season?
No, not at all.
What would you say is the biggest difference between sevens (like you played at FISU) and fifteens (what the Gee-Gees normally play)?
I think a big thing is definitely fitness. You have to be a lot more fit. And the little skills that wouldn’t matter in fifteens, like your long passing and kicking and your hard hits are crucial. If you mess something up in sevens, you can see it more than in fifteens.
It’s also a 14-minute game. You don’t have a lot of time. In the season it’s 80-minute games, so you have time to make up for it. But since you have 14 minutes, you really have to be on the ball.
What do you think it takes to be a rugby player?
I think a lot of it is determination — just keep working at it, keep working on your skills. Getting fitter has made a huge difference for me as a rugby player. You can be amazing, but fitness will kill you in the end. I think that has helped me through the long run.
Rugby is a pretty tough sport. Have you ever had to deal with any injuries?
I’ve been pretty lucky. I’ve had one concussion, but [other than] the ankle sprain [at FISU], that’s about it.
There have been big injuries like Achilles [on the team], but at the higher level it doesn’t happen as much because you’re smarter — you know where to put your head and stuff. But you still have to be careful.
Do you have any pre-game rituals to get you motivated?
I usually listen to music. I have a little journal and I write my goals for the game and I review it after to see where I can improve and what I did well. I like to keep track of that stuff.
What kind of music?
(Laughing) Rap music. High beat music.
Do you have any favourite moments as a Gee-Gee?
I think playing Laval was one of my favourite moments. When we held them at half and we realized that we could finally do it and beat such a high-level team. I think that was an amazing feeling. But overall, it’s been a good experience. I’ve been proud to be a Gee-Gee.
What would you say is the best part about being a Gee-Gee?
I think just having 30 teammates beside you, encouraging you. It’s like a little family. I love it. The rugby team is like a family. And being a Gee-Gee has been a family to me. It has allowed me to grow as a player and people around you grow, and it’s great to see.
What are your post-graduation plans?
I haven’t looked too much into it, but I would like to apply to a master’s in either occupational therapy or rehabilitation. But first I want to get a job in personal training.