Six years ago girls’ rugby was re-introduced to Mark Isfeld Secondary School.
The dreams and aspirations of making the BC provincials has been a goal for the girls and coaches every year. In 2018 that dream was achieved and the girls placed third at provincials in Williams Lake to round out an amazing season. The following years, 2019 to 2020 were developing years which incurred injuries and a sixth-place finish on the Island. This led into two years of COVID with no high school rugby.
Now, with high school rugby being injected into BC School Sports the birth of Rapids Rugby (community rugby) was also introduced in the Comox Valley and is a huge part of continued growth of the sport and talent pool pushing into our school programs. Fast forward to 2022 to find Mark Isfeld Secondary one of the top up-and-coming high school girls rugby teams ranked No. 2 in British Columbia. An amazing feat in itself considering the move with BC School Sports to a Tier 2 field.
Head coach Geoff Postle proudly emphasizes the season had a number of “firsts” for the school including; first season undefeated, first time beating Shawnigan and Vanier at home and away, first time winning both junior and senior sevens tournament and first time seeing players go to university rugby.
Mark Isfeld has a dominant class of graduating girls moving on to play high caliber university rugby. Jessica Postle – Central Washington University, Emma Grootendorst – University of Victoria, Olivia Jean – St. Francis Xavier. These players along with Sienna Stigant also captured the attention of the province by playing for BC in 2018 with Olivia Jean and Sienna Stigant currently vying for spots in the 2022 Canadian Summer Games rugby sevens.
These girls and a very strong cohort of forwards and backs include the most promising lineup of junior players, including Ella Wilson, Jolene Murphy, Katie Hartig and Shayla Stigant in the starting line-up. Mark Isfeld has dominated the 2022 season and claimed the Vancouver Island championship going undefeated in league play into the BC provincials. This had the Isfeld girls fired up in the first game to absolutely crush the dreams of Robert Bateman, beating them 58-17 with amazing team efforts by all. This moved the Ice on to the semifinals to face Island rival Shawnigan Lake School.
The nerves and anxieties disappeared after the first kick-off. The Isfeld girls played the game of their lives with every hit, ruck, pass and run to touch that ball down with screams of triumph. The girls came away with a 49-5 win, securing their well-deserved spot in the gold-medal game, against Langley’s DW Poppy Hawks. With the Hawks’ 40 players and a sea of red in the stands the Ice knew they were in for the fight of their lives.
The first 10 minutes Poppy came hard at Isfeld with the Hawks scoring first. The Ice responded quickly, as blazing winger Alex Vinzenz touched down in the corner to tie the match.
The game continued with pounding crashes from Ice forwards and Jessica Postle leading the beast mode up the field to offload to Emma Grootendorst who smashed through for an amazing try. The Hawks came back and were able to combat the Ice defence to get more points on the board. The Ice continued to pound and ground to feed their backs and see Shayla Stigant dummie the socks off a Hawk defender, then offload to her sister Sienna Stigant to run the gauntlet of red and smash through for a penalty try.
The game went back and forth with high energy and nerves unbroken to see unmatched ferocity with the want to win. The Isfeld front row with unsung heroes Ava Perkins, Anna Purich and Sara Banks continued to blow the competition off the rucks and secured the opportunities for two more tries from the back line. The Hawks were able to come back in the dying minutes to secure a two-point lead.
The crowd was on its feet as Isfeld ran the ball at the Hawks head-on, crashing and crashing until they fired the ball down the line to have an Ice winger high-tackled a metre from the try line.
“No time on the board and a metre from the line we charged them with all our might and the wall of red held us,” said support coach Andrew Stigant. “We held our heads high as the whistle blew knowing we had left it all on the field.
“Isfeld Ice proudly accepted the silver medal and ranked No. 2 in B.C. Such an accomplishment for this ‘unknown rugby school’ on Vancouver Island that is now on the minds of all those that hear our name. Augi, augi, augi. Ice on two!”
The Isfeld Ice girls thank our coaches, managers and volunteers wholeheartedly for their commitment to our players and the sport. Head coach Geoff Postle and assistant coach Mimi Appelbe; support coaches Andrew Stigant and Patrick Parisi; managers Erin Postle and Tanya Petri, support chaperone Dawn Stigant and to our wonderful bus driver Aarlen Storey. We truly appreciate the support of our community and outpouring of love and sponsorship for our girls.
Thank you to the following sponsors for your generous donations that supported us through this amazing experience: Electrosep Technologies, Whistle Stop Pub, Cameron Construction, Brian McLean, Mackenzie Gartside Mortgages, Shoreline Orthodontics, CV Metal Product, Thriftys