I was tricked into becoming a member of the Barrhaven Scottish Rugby Football Club. I had always been athletic (or at least tried to be) but considered myself a baseball player first who dabbled in basketball, at 33 years of age I wasn’t really searching for a new sport to tackle literally or figuratively. Growing up in Nova Scotia, I can’t say I was particularly aware of rugby, other than seeing Aussie rules on TV, I thought you had to be insane to play that, add in the fact that I graduated high school the same height I am now, but at a whopping 118lbs (after lunch) I never paid much mind to it.
I didn’t know Rowan personally; this didn’t stop me from trying to help where I could, and the club truly rallied to show their support for her family, her teammates, club and the community as a whole.
I didn’t attend the funeral because I didn’t know if I would fit in, and wanted to show respect and let the people who knew her best have the room and respect they deserved. I realized soon after that this was a mistake. It resonated in the back of my mind, and also it started to become clear that as a club as many great things we did, for a new member such as myself, it was hard to find out about the actual history. Rowan forever will be a part of that history, and players and coaches and supporters that have helped to forge this club need to be recognized.
Fast Forward a few years, and largely propelled by the documentary piece I did on the Old Boys trip to the Bahamas, which shines a light on a great tour, but more so I hope shows the unique nature of rugby and it’s culture, I was nominated to become the VP of Marketing & Sponsorship. I accepted this role and set out to create engagement through social media channels and the revamping of this very website, but also wanted to re-engage the communities of Ottawa, Barrhaven and the Scottish who perhaps had lost touch with the club. I also knew we had to do something to commemorate Rowan Stringer.
I wasn’t sure how the best way to achieve this was, especially since I had no relationship with Gordon and Kathleen Stringer and wasn’t sure if this would be appropriate to suggest with no prior engagement with them. I first though, wanted to set out and gauge the will of the public. I was invited to the re-naming of South Nepean Park to Ken Ross Park. Ken was a great businessman and philanthropist in the Barrhaven community and in many ways sketched out the way to get involved in your local community. It was at this event that I had the good fortune to formally meet with Barrhaven Councillor Jan Harder, I knew I had a short window, so I proposed the idea that we rename our pitch after Rowan Stringer. She loved the idea, with the caveat that there could be some political red tape and procedure to navigate through. I left that meeting informing her that this was all contingent on the approval of Rowan’s parents, and that I wasn’t sure if I was the person who could garner their approval or support.
At this point, I also want to say that in no way was I solely responsible for this vision and how it eventually came to fruition. A great deal of happenstance which I believe is sewn together by perhaps Karma also saw a number of passionate people take the pass and advance the ball. Like rugby very seldom can you run the ball the entire length of the field and score.
Recognizing the sensitive nature of what I had hoped would occur, I put it slightly on the back burner, we were entering into the busy season for the club, and the day to day promotion of the club started consuming more of my time.
As a Club we had a terrific summer in regard to our players representing us in National and International competition, we held a great fund raising event to celebrate one of our players who would soon head to Seattle to play for Team Canada (I wish I had the space to give a shout to every player that represented us so well, and in the future we hope to employ more tools and events to help funding them in their journey). Unbeknownst to me local MPP Lisa Macleod would end up attending this event, as our player had volunteered for Lisa in the past, Lisa had also been working on Concussion protocol as recommended by the inquest into Rowan’s death, and planned to table a private member’s bill in the Ontario legislature.
A panel of local go to people of those who know how to get people engaged and things done in Barrhaven was created, and we as the Barrhaven Scottish including myself were invited.
Special thanks as well go to Joe & Linda Price, Gary Thomas, Jody Mitic, Darrel Bartraw,Frank Hall, Barb Gillie and Gordon & Kathleen Stringer.