Winning a title takes talent and heart. Securing three straight requires an entirely different level of commitment. The Guelph Gryphons women’s team made history this past fall, completing an incredible three-peat by defeating the Queen’s Gaels 39-14 in the OUA final on the Varsity Field pitch. Colette McAuley, who was named OUA Coach of the Year, while also earning a recent induction into the Rugby Ontario Hall of Fame, had a fantastic crew to work with this season and their year-long mantra of ‘As One’ proved prophetic.
The culture has already been established for a program that has now won three straight OUA banners, eight in the past 11 years, and 16 in the 25-year history of the sport in the conference. But McAuley had an array of elite talent at her disposal, including All-Canadians Brodie Schmidt, Emilie Nicholl, Julia Schell, Alexandra Everett, and Emmanuela Jada. Those stars were complemented by a mix of young and veteran players willing to sacrifice for trophies. The Gryphons did get the coveted third consecutive OUA banner and they went to nationals ready to make a run at the U SPORTS crown.
Guelph was fantastic in wins over Victoria and Ottawa, earning a sport in the gold-medal match with national powerhouse St FX. The Gryphons got a jump on the X-Women but with some key players out, they could not hang on and were defeated 41-24. There was no shame in that lone loss of 2018 for a tough, dynamic side, which completed a year most programs can only dream of.
“We accomplished a lot this season, checked many boxes and met a lot of goals we set forth for ourselves,” said McAuley. “The girls were gritty this year and adapted well. We got better each week and they really played for each other, and it showed in each game. I was really proud of them. Every time we threw something at them, they were able to adapt. We have such a great coaching staff here who challenged them and they were up for it each time.”