Heading to Nanaimo for rugby

Sports of all varieties have been a constant part of Avia LaTosky’s life, but it’s rugby that’s sending her to the BC Summer Games this year

Summer games bound: Avia LaTosky is headed to the BC Summer Games in Nanaimo to play for the Thompson-Okanagan Girls rugby team.

Summer games bound: Avia LaTosky is headed to the BC Summer Games in Nanaimo to play for the Thompson-Okanagan Girls rugby team.

Sports of all varieties have been a constant part of Avia LaTosky’s life, but it’s rugby that’s sending her to the BC Summer Games this year.

LaTosky, 15, is excited to don her team jersey and hit the rugby field in Nanaimo from July 17 to 19.

She decided to try out for the Summer Games after hearing about how much her mother, Jacqueline, enjoyed participating in synchronized swimming as a youth.

“It was kind of spontaneous,” said LaTosky, who expressed that she was both nervous and excited to be competing. “I thought I should see what it was like.”

LaTosky, who will play with the U17 Thompson-Okanagan girls team at the Games, also said she has always wanted to try playing at a higher calibre level of rugby, and the BC Summer Games will give her that chance.

Joining the Salmon Arm Secondary Jewels rugby team was also a spontaneous decision for LaTosky, who decided to try out with a friend two years ago.

Rugby was also a good fit for LaTosky’s schedule, as in the winter months she’s busy playing ringette, which she has done for the past eight years.

She grew to like rugby and plans to continue playing throughout high school, and maybe into her postgraduate years.

“I like that there’s not that many rules,” said LaTosky, who usually plays the inside centre position. “And there’s not really that many stoppages.”

LaTosky likes the fact that such a wide variety of girls can play the sport, and she’s made some valuable friendships.

“I’m more of a team-oriented type of person,” said LaTosky, who has enjoyed a variety of team sports such as soccer, volleyball and hockey. She’s also an avid swimmer and is currently working towards getting her lifeguard certification.

Even though she’s only been playing for two years, Latosky was already named MVP during a tournament with the Jewels earlier this year.

The BC Summer Games rugby format will be slightly different than what LaTosky is used to, which is 15 teammates on the field at a time. The games will be played with only seven girls.

LaTosky has played sevens before, but she says it will mean a lot more running and more contact, which means she’s had to have an extensive training schedule.

Each week she meets with her teammates for five hours of practice, but she also has an individual training regimen that involves running five kilometres a week and completing a number of shuttle runs to train for agility and stamina.

She says her training is progressive and she has also spent time at the gym to stay in shape for the Games.

“I like staying fit and challenging myself a lot,” she says.

LaTosky has her eye on obtaining one of the Coast Capital Savings Athlete Bursaries, which amount to $500 and are given to 16 athletes at the Games, and she’s also looking forward to the opportunity to get coached by John LaBoyne, who is also from Salmon Arm.

“I’m really excited to be coached by him, because of his experience,” said LaTosky.

LaTosky will be one of nine athletes from the Shuswap participating in the games, which hosts a total of 3,200 athletes, coaches and officials.

Tyler Webster-Locke from Salmon Arm, and Olin Mosher from Tappen will be coached by Salmon Arm coach Jana Montgomery in the swimming category.

Madison Porteous and Heather Wolfear will both hit the mat in wrestling.

Drew Bannister will be competing in lacrosse and Shayla White will be taking part in volleyball.

McKenzie Woldring will be competing in the athletics category.

Gina Selfe and Ann-Marie Crandlemire, both from Sicamous, will be playing girls softball.

Peter McLean, from Salmon Arm, will be assistant coach of rowing at the games.