Rugby forward had quite the journey since her first Stingers appearance
Concordia Stingers women’s rugby head coach Jocelyn Barrieau was surprised when her former player Emily Magee of the Dawson College Blues contacted her this summer, saying she wanted to rejoin the team this season.
Barrieau first coached Magee when she was the head coach of the Dawson College women’s rugby program, a position she held from 2007 to 2011. The Stingers’s website statistics might show that Magee’s at her fourth season with the team, but don’t get fooled. The St. Louis, Missouri native hasn’t played those four years consecutively.
“It’s been a bit of a wild journey you could say,” said Magee. “When I first came to Concordia, I was a pretty young athlete, as I was immature, and didn’t know how to train properly. I came to Concordia because I loved their communications program, but also because they had a really good rugby program.”
Yet, obstacles changed the course of Magee’s rugby career and life. She explained she wasn’t ready for what university came with, as she got overwhelmed by assignments and anxiety at times.
“I had a hard time finishing essays and even simple assignments [when I started university],” Magee said. “I even had essays I never handed in. I finished them on time, but never handed them in because they weren’t good enough for [my personal expectations]. I then stopped playing rugby for two years. I just didn’t play at all.”
Those two years off the field, where she spent her time doing things like playing video games, pushed Magee to get her rugby career back on track. She said she didn’t recognize herself, as she’s always been very active in life.
“I hit a rock bottom, especially regarding my mental health,” said Magee. “It pushed [me to change] and fix something because things [weren’t] working for me. I’ve always dreamed of playing for Canada, U.S.A., or just nationally. That was kind of a push to try, because [when I stopped], there was nothing happening with myself. I had nothing to lose, and see what happens.”
Since then, Magee traveled around the world and played rugby for several elite teams, including in the U.S.A. and New Zealand. Now at age 29 and with a lot of rugby experience, Magee said this was the perfect time for her to come back to Concordia to finish what she started.
“I’m not a Canadian citizen, I’m a permanent resident,” said Magee. “Over a five-year period, I have to live two in Canada. I traveled a lot in the last five years, and had to come back in March to start making up some days. When I came back to Canada, I thought it was the perfect time to complete my remaining credits, and put my degree behind me to close that chapter. I then thought of Barrieau [and the rugby team here], who coached me at Dawson College.”
The Stingers forward added that her game has completely changed since her first rugby experience. She explained that her skillsets were very limited at first.
“I could just run fast,” said Magee. “I couldn’t really pass or tackle. I’ve been naturally gifted athletically, but all of my skills I had to develop and work on. By getting older, I had to push myself because at the end of the day, you need to grow your own game.”
Barrieau said the team knew that Magee’s presence and talent would be felt quickly. She explained that the positivity and energy the forward brings to the team is unique.
“Not everybody can bring such things [the way Magee does],” said Barrieau. “The experience she brings to our team is huge as well, as she’s matured by playing, traveling and looking to others [these past years]. She’s learned and matured a lot on the field.”
After missing the Stingers first two games of the 2019-2020 Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) season, Magee registered five tries, 25 points and one nomination as the most valuable player (MVP) of the game in two matches. She said that if her hard work these past years paid off, one thing she’ll always keep in mind that is that the key to success is to have fun doing what you do. She added that’s exactly how she feels with the Stingers.
“Barrieau’s creating such an awesome team culture,” Magee said. “It creates an [environment] where you can make mistakes. You can fail, and it’s not the end of the world to do so. Having the freedom to make those mistakes, have a bad game and not make great decisions all the time makes it so much easier for me to just play the game. I’m honestly so grateful to have the opportunity to come back. I’m really proud of what I’ve been through and where I am now with rugby. It’s a dream come true.”
Feature photo by Laurence B.D.