Looking to go out on top
Amanda Richardson doesn’t mind doing the grunt work, whether it’s on the rugby pitch or in study hall. This month, the fruits of her on-field labours could produce a third consecutive national championship. In the spring, her classroom diligence will serve as the starting point to a professional career.
“It’s bittersweet,” Richardson says of wrapping up both her Pronghorns rugby career and her
U of L education. “I’ve learned so many life skills from rugby and being on this team in particular. It’ll be tough not going to school and not looking forward to rugby season.”
The 22-year-old Olds, Alta., native has come a long way since beginning at the
U of L five years ago. At that time she was a kinesiology student in a rugby program that had yet to establish an identity. Since then, her growth has mirrored that of the program, with both taking flight.
“I started in kinesiology, but I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do while I was here. After a year, I just didn’t see a career path for me out of it,” Richardson says, prompting her switch to the Faculty of Management and the pursuit of a degree in accounting. “My dad owns a business so there’s a management influence in my family, and I decided to pursue that.”
An Academic All-Canadian during her lone year in kinesiology, she has since qualified for All-Canadian status on two more occasions. Along the way, she has played on provincial rugby teams, been named a Canada West all-star for five straight seasons and was a CIS Tournament all-star the past three national tournaments, all the while celebrating consecutive national championships and setting the stage for a run at a career-capping third straight title.
“It’s nerve-wracking knowing that it’s our last year and how badly we want to win one more time,” she says, referring to a senior group of five players who have been with each other from day one. “During the Canada West championship we talked about it potentially being our last game and that was pretty scary.”
Being the best team in the country and having established the Horns as a rugby power is gratifying, but it also invites pressure and places a target on their backs.
“We got a feel for it last year, but I don’t think everyone believed we should have been in the CIS final, so there wasn’t as much pressure,” she says. “Now, everyone will be gunning for us, but I think that will just make us more prepared for what we’re going to face.”
Being ready for the future is a Richardson hallmark. She spent the summer working in the University’s Financial Planning office to gain valuable experience for her pending job search. Now, she has essentially put her ambitions to play rugby at the national level on hold as she readies for the next phase of her life.
“I tried out for the senior national team two years ago and wasn’t selected. Then last year I got an invite to try again and didn’t attend,” Richardson says. “I’m not sure if I want to take that path anymore. There are other things in my life, like my career planning, that are taking precedence.”
With another national title to win, five classes on the go and a pending graduation, Richardson again seems to have it all under control – whether it’s on the field or off.
GET THE FACTS
• Richardson, at six-foot-one, plays the lock position, which is typically reserved for tall, athletic players. She was given the position in high school and excelled.
• Richardson was recruited to the U of L by Horns’ manager Toby Boulet, who is also a native of Olds, Alta.
• Richardson has two older sisters (one working and one currently attending University of Victoria) and a younger brother (currently attending Olds College).
• Richardson equates this year’s Pronghorn team to the one she debuted on in terms of recruited, young talent. The difference is the strong veteran presence this unit has to complement the incoming talent.