By Woodard, Dale on June 11, 2017.
After winning an Olympic bronze medal, quitting cold turkey wasn’t going to work for Ashley Steacy.
But now, nearly one year removed from the bronze medal she won with the Canadian Rugby 7s women’s team at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, the former University of Lethbridge Pronghorn star has made the gradual shift from the sport that vaulted her to the international stage to the next chapter in her life.
“Originally my end game and end goal was the Olympics,” said Steacy Thursday afternoon at the Lethbridge Rugby Club as the LRC ran through a mini-rugby session. “Then an opportunity came up from my coach to play another year and de-centralize. So the last four or five years I’ve been living in Victoria, centralized with the team and training for the Olympics. For me, it was the decision to play one more year, keep my card in and transition out of the sport, which was always the plan for this year. I was going to play one more year after the Olympics and be done. It just kind of naturally happened that way and this year being de-centralized has been super challenging, living and training at home and being away from the team. But it’s been an exciting year and it just feels right. I’ve had a really long run and played a lot of years with the national team and I wouldn’t change any of it.”
But Steacy has enjoyed being back at home as she ponders her next move
“It’s been amazing, it’s been a game-changer, to be honest,” said Steacy. “Just being able to live at home with my husband (Sean) and see my family and friends. I think it’s been a good transition. I think had I gone cold turkey and just retired straight-away after the Olympics I really think I would have missed it and I would have regretted it. So I think it was a good decision to do the transition. Being at home has been challenging for rugby, but for overall life balance it’s been a great decision.
“(I’ve been) still travelling with the team, so in that regard it’s been busy because I have been back and forth between here and Victoria and travelling with the team to a lot of different tournaments. It’s been fun. But being home has been so nice.”
As for what’s next, that’s a work in progress.
“I’m still trying to figure that out,” said Steacy. “I’m looking into going back to school. I finished my degree (Kinesiology Bachelor of Science) in 2012 and so (I’m) looking at maybe an after-degree program or a Masters program, but keeping the door open if a job opportunity comes up and I’m excited about it, I would definitely look into it. But as of right now I’m looking at maybe heading back to school and maybe look into doing some upgrading.”
As some potential future Olympians ran through some drills under the tutelage of LRC head coach Nevin Morrison Thursday, Steacy said she hopes to help out more with the local program when her schedule settles down.
“This year has been crazy-busy. I’ve done a few things with the mini rugby before the program started with some of the junior and elementary schools, so that was neat. I was excited that Nevin asked me to do that and that helped prepare the mini program,” she said. “But outside of that I’ve been busy with travel and haven’t really been able to dip my toes into the rugby community back in Lethbridge. I have as much as I can, but being busy, not as much as I would like to. After I’m done with this season I’m excited for what’s next and just immersing myself in the community and helping out with the rugby program here.”
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