Hughanna Gaw doesn’t stop. She has come back full throttle, after injuring her knee in the 2011-12 season and has no plans of quitting rugby anytime soon.
“It took a while for it to actually happen,” she said about her injury. “I had problems with my leg for a while before the injury actually happened but no one knew what was wrong.”
That all changed when she felt something go horribly wrong during the Stingers’ final against Laval in November 2011.
“I was playing and all of a sudden I heard a crack. I called over to [the athletic therapist] and he told me that in a way this was better than not knowing what was wrong, because now I could actually get better.”
“We knew from the final the year before she was really hurt, although we did not expect to lose her for the 2012[-2013] season,” said Stingers head coach Graeme McGravie. “But you need your knee for life, not just rugby. Getting her back at 100 per cent was the only real goal we had.”
Gaw also had to say goodbye to a season with her Quebec senior women’s team this past summer. However, knowing Gaw’s extensive knowledge and commitment to the game, head coach Jocelyn Barrieau offered her a position with the under 18 Quebec development team.
“I’ve been playing for Quebec since 2004. I love playing for Quebec […] It’s a community that always welcomes you with open arms. I wouldn’t have gotten the coaching job if it wasn’t for my coach,” said Gaw. “I was really happy to have the coaching job but I still missed playing. It’s hard to just sit there and watch and not get to play.”
After coaching the nationals in June and jr. Nationals in August, she played half a season with the Ste-Anne’s Rugby Football Club starting in mid-July knowing she would be going back to the Stingers in the fall of 2013. Gaw is currently finishing up a degree in leisure science with a minor in history.
“I think rugby helps me get through school,” she said. “It helps with time management. We practice four days a week and sometimes have to travel for games so it forces me to sit down and finish my schoolwork with the little time that I have between practices and games,” she added with a laugh, “and class, of course.”
When asked if she felt her skill diminished after missing not only a varsity season but a summer season, she responded with a simple, “Definitely.”
McGravie, however, feels differently. He has nothing but positive words to describe Gaw ‘s role with the team.
“I have no worries. She looks stronger and faster than ever,” he said. “Her physical presence is immense, whether that is tackling, supporting or running with the ball. Her game knowledge is calming not only to the coaches but teammates too.”
“She manages to inspire others around her to be better and push themselves on the field or in the weight room; she is always there to encourage others but somehow manages to push her limits to compete and be the best.”
The Stingers just won their final league game against the Bishop’s Gaiters, bringing their season to a close with an astounding 7-0 sweep.
Gaw has been playing rugby since the eighth grade; she has honed her skills and transformed herself into an ultimate competitor. With her last season with the Stingers coming to a close, there is no doubt she will be missed next season.