Beth Thomson bolsters defense of both Saskatoon Valkyries and Team Canada

Sixth-year Valkyries players Beth Thomson (left), Tori Giles, Marci Kiselyk, Jaime Lammerding and Lori Smith pose for a photo this week at SMF Field. Greg Pender / The StarPhoenix

With the 2017 Western Women’s Canadian Football League (WWCFL) season underway, there is a heightened sense of accomplishment for linebacker Beth Thomson. Entering the season on the heels of a very notable 2016, the objective of maintaining such momentum certainly stands among her list of priorities this season, including the goal of helping the Saskatoon Valkyries capture their sixth championship in franchise history.

Among the elements that made 2016 so memorable was the fact that Thomson, a six-year veteran, was one of nine players from the Valkyries who competed on Team Saskatchewan’s defense at the 2016 Canadian National Women’s Football Championships.

Having captured both the WWCFL title and gold at Nationals, it was the kind of achievement that provided more than pride for Thomson. A pair of championships simultaneously added to the growing legend of female football in Saskatchewan.

There was also a feeling of redemption for Thomson. Part of the 2015 roster that saw the Valkyries suffer their first loss in franchise history, compounded by the fact that archrival Regina captured the Prairie Conference title, there was an exceptionally high feeling of motivation,

“Winning the WWCFL title was very special this year because of our big loss in the conference final last year. We practiced very hard and it paid off.

The same feelings came when we won Nationals this year. We came in second in the last Nationals and having this big win against Quebec this year felt amazing. I have never won a National Championship before so this win was very special. One I will never forget.”

Perhaps one of the most unique facets of Thomson’s career with the Valks is the fact that she is one of two competitors in franchise history with the same name. Beth Thompson, spelled with a P, is an anchor of the offensive line, another key contributor to the Saskatoon dynasty.

Of note, the paths of these two Beth’s would cross with Team Saskatchewan as well. Thompson served as a Mentor Coach on the coaching staff of Chris Hengen-Braun, while the significant presence of Thomson (without the P) on the defensive unit culminated with a well-deserved nod to the Women’s National Championship All-Star Team.

“Being named an All-Star is an honour. Having all the best female football players in Canada in one place and being chosen from that is something special.

It says how far I have come as a football player. Big thanks to all the great coaches I have had over the last six years. I will continue working hard.”

With the announcement in early January that Thomson gained a spot on Team Canada, it represented a hallmark that continues to signify the essence of momentum. Considering that Thomson was also part of the Canadian roster that competed in a silver medal outcome at the 2013 IFAF Women’s World Football Championships, the drive for another podium finish on the global stage takes on an even greater meaning.

As the cosmopolitan city of Vancouver takes centre stage, Canada shall be the host country for the 2017 edition of the IFAF Women’s Worlds, the first time such an event shall be contested in North America.

The chance to grace the gridiron on home soil is monumental for Thomson, who is one of only 12 returning players from the 2013 roster suiting up for Canada once again.

Undoubtedly, Thomson’s presence as a leader shall be crucial for Canada’s golden hopes in Vancouver. Looking to continue her All-Star status as a member of Team Canada’s defensive unit, it complements an important time at the 2016 Nationals, where Thomson evolved into a valued leader.

Having had the honor of team captaincy bestowed upon her for the victorious Saskatchewan club, Thomson reflects on it with significant pride. With her approachability and acumen for the game, her leadership function at Nationals is one that will likely mirror itself at Worlds. Poised to be a key mentor for a group of young players who shall be making their debut for Canada in 2017, it adds luster to another exciting chapter in her gridiron odyssey,

“Having the coaches name me team Captain was really special. I think them knowing I had the experience of going to Nationals and Internationals was a factor.

Having those experiences gave me the confidence to help some of my younger teammates. Having been to Nationals and Internationals in the past has given me some experience in knowing what it is like.

It can be like a roller coaster sometimes of emotions and can be tough mentally and physically. I did my best in games and practices and tried to lead by example.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

(Thumbnail photo: Beth Thomson of the Saskatoon Valkyries is coaching high school football with the Holy Cross Crusaders. Photograph by: Gord Waldner, The StarPhoenix)

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