Not taking a break over the winter

Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

How Jocelyn Barrieau is training her women’s team all-year round

Four months since the Concordia Stingers women’s rugby team finished the 2018 Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) season, the team has barely left the field.

Two weeks of rest were all the team needed at the end of last season. Stingers Head Coach Jocelyn Barrieau said that after closing their last campaign with a debrief and a few meetings, the team quickly returned to training.

“We started training again at the end of October,” Barrieau said. “After, we got into conditioning and weightlifting. I think next year we’ll be able to make a step forward with everything related to performances.”

The term “off-season” doesn’t reflect what happens between two RSEQ rugby seasons. The Stingers do much more than just practice, as they play games as well.

“We officially have three tournaments this year with the RSEQ,” Barrieau said. “There’s also a good chance a Canadian championship will be added in a weekend of March. These are tournaments that keep us in the community. These are just tools for us to use, and we keep them in our pockets for next year.”

Stingers forward Nancy Napolitano said off-season tournaments keep the team motivated. “We just had one tournament, and we have more coming [up]. There’s still a reason to keep pushing.”

The RSEQ started a pilot project for the winter season in 2018. Teams play rugby sevens, which is seven players per team, instead of the regular 15 players they play with in the fall. Despite this, the off-season can be as demanding as a regular season schedule.

“In the off-season, you’re working out probably harder,” said first-year forward Halee Preston. “Our practices are not any easier during the off-season. You’re not taking it easy in practice to not know what it’s like in a game.”

She added that the off-season is a big part of a team’s success and that, in order to perform well in games, you need to put in effort all year.

“If you’re not working in the off-season, your performances are likely not going to change next season,” Preston said. “We’re looking for a better outcome than last year, so we want to keep progressing forward.”

While new players can be recruited at any point in the year in the RSEQ, Barrieau said the Stingers welcomed 25 to 30 players for a recruitment day last month.

“We had players already at Concordia, or coming [to] Concordia who are joining the program,” Barrieau said. “We had people from secondary three to CÉGEP who came to visit the complex. It’s a continuing process, as we also have on-field development.”

Barrieau said that even if it can be challenging for a team to practice without having performance dates every week, it allows for opportunities to focus on different aspects of their game.

“We really work on our bases this winter,” Barrieau said. “We work on our decision-making, our tackles, and we look back at our defensive system.”

Barrieau said the Stingers hope to have a fast and exciting team for next season. She said her players enjoy this challenge, which makes it a fun experience.

“We had a season that we needed to build,” Barrieau said. “It won’t take a year, but two or three. However, the group of players we have and the energy we have [makes it] a fun process. They bring a lot, they love each other, and it’s really a pleasure to do this.”

Main photo by Mackenzie Lad.

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