In yet another example of Prince Rupert showcasing its rugby talent on the big stage, this past summer saw siblings Kaden and Dennay Yaroshuk head down to Vancouver Island to take part in a pair of high profile development camps.
Both Yaroshuk’s play on the Charles Hays Rainmakers rugby squad, with Grade 11 Kaden and Grade 9 Dennay going into their second years with the team. It was this background that helped the two of them land on the radar of the camps.
“This opportunity popped up and my mom and dad hopped on it and said, we’re getting our kids on this trip,” Kaden explained. He also credited the local rugby community, including Jason Scherr, for always being alert and communicative about upcoming opportunities.
|Kaden Yaroshuk at the MacDowell Rugby Academy. (Jason Scherr submitted photo)|
|Dennay Yaroshuk at the MacDowell Rugby Academy. (Jason Scherr submitted photo)|
That opportunity was a chance to play at the Thunder Rugby camp at Shawnigan Lake School, which lies a short drive north of Victoria. The camp, run by director John Lyall, is an intense four days of development. But there is also an epmhasis on honouring Indigenous roots. This year featured a day of cedar weaving, led by elder Linda Edgar of the Ditidaht Nation.
“That was a great day, the kids loved it,” Lyall said. “She’s [Edgar] a great presenter, and gave good life teachings as well.”
|Students at the Thunder Rugby camp took part in cedar weaving, led by elder Linda Edgar of the Ditidaht Nation. (Jason Scherr submitted photo)|
Lyall said these kind of activities are crucial to a well rounded experience. “We need to ground ourselves with who we are and where we’re from,” Lyall explained. “We want to make sure that we do more than just play rugby.”
Athletes came from around the province, and even outside of it, to take part. Prince Rupert, Vancouver Island, the lower mainland, the Yukon, and more had representation. As a result, Lyall says the camp philosophy is represented by the Kwak’wala word ‘namwayut’, which fittingly means ‘we are all one’.
Lyall also had nothing but praise for the Yaroshuk’s. “Very nice young brother and sister, power rugby players and a very likeable and coachable pair,” Lyall said. “I’d love to have them back, they were great abassadors for Prince Rupert.”
|Kaden Yaroshuk heads onto the field to play for Thunder Rugby at the Langford Sevens tournament. (Jason Scherr submitted photo)|
”John [Lyall} is a great guy, he’s a really good coach and I really respect him,” Kaden said. “At Thunder Rugby I learned lots of great stuff, I learned better techniques, and I learned how to be a better person on the field.”
Dennay was taken with the experience as well, even though she was limited in her participation after injuring her ankle on the first day. “I still learned a lot,” she said. “We got to learn how to kick properly, we had a bunch of little games at the end of practice, some competitions, it was a lot of fun. It taught us a lot.”
|Dennay Yaroshuk with her Thunder Rugby teammates. (Jason Scherr submitted photo)|
The brother and sister duo was not done there though. The next week they took part in the MacDowell Rugby Academy just down the road, run by former Canadian national team player Robin MacDowell. MacDowell currently coaches the Mexican women’s rugby sevens national team.
“I wanted some Prince Rupert kids there, and I had so much fun working with them. They really opened up on the car ride down, and at dinner,” MacDowell said about getting to know the Yaroshuk’s. “They’re just so talented.”
“The plan is for me to come up over the winter and do some training with some athletes there,” MacDowell added, giving Rupert rugby players even more professional coaching talent to look forward to.
|Kaden Yaroshuk with his Thunder Rugby teammates. (Jason Scherr submitted photo)|
|Kaden and Dennay Yaroshuk got the chance to meet some of the Canadian national team following a warmup game in Langford. Here they are pictured with D. T. H. van der Merwe, who is currently in Japan playing for Canada in the Rugby World Cup. (Jason Scherr submitted photo)|
Following the camp, the Yaroshuk’s got the chance to watch some of the players from Team Canada play a warmup game for the Rugby World Cup. They got to meet the players afterward, some of whom are over in Japan now looking to score tries for Canada.
“That was a once in a lifetime opportunity, that was absolutely amazing,” Kaden said of getting to see the national team play. “To see people play at the highest level is something, that’s a place I hope to one day be.”
“It was so much fun seeing a game live from a professional rugby team,” Dennay added.
Both Kaden and Dennay played for the Thunder in the Langford Sevens tournament following the Canada game. Dennay recovered enough to play, with her team taking the U-19 title.
|Dennay Yaroshuk’s Thunder Rugby squad were champions of their group at the Langford Sevens tournament. (Jason Scherr submitted photo)|
Now back in Prince Rupert, Kaden, Dennay and the rest of the Rainmakers rugby squad are gearing up for a Thanksgiving trip to Kamloops to play in a tournament. They’ve been doing plenty of fundraising, including Rugby World Cup watch parties where they serve food, and selling chocolates at Prince Rupert Rampage games.
Kaden and Dennay will be on the trip, and they plan to be on many rugby trips for years to come.
“When I found rugby I knew it was the sport I wanted to join. I like the tackling, the roughness, and just running around,” Dennay explained.
“As soon as I touched the rugby ball, I knew it was for me,” Kaden said.
Alex Kurial | Sports Reporter
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