Blitz legend Laurence Pontbriand provides series of peerless performances for Canada

Enjoyable to coach with an ability to excel in pressure type situations, Laurence Pontbriand is the epitome of what a football player should be. With precise footwork and an on-field vision, bringing a strong innate attention to details, Pontbriand possesses an amazing self-confidence that made her an ideal choice to be part of Canada’s corps of wide receivers.

Lauded for her commitment, Pontbriand was joined by Alex Black (also part of the Class of 2010) and Claire Dore as wide receivers who were part of Canada’s contingent at the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds.

With the number 80 donning the back of her jersey, Pontbriand watches the action unfold (Image from the Laurence Pontbriand Collection)

Bringing a reassuring presence that also translates into strong leadership, the reliable play of Pontbriand was evident early on. In the opening game of the tournament, the first IFAF contest on Canadian soil, Pontbriand made her mark. Hosting an Australian team making their international debut, one which featured the iconic Dr. Jen Welter as their head coach, along with star running back Kristy Moran, both sides entering said game with the expectation of victory.

As the final outcome saw Canada prevail in convincing fashion, it was also a game that saw several Canadian stars make their mark, including kicker Carly Dyck outscoring the opposing Australians. With a peerless performance, Pontbriand contributed towards setting a commanding tone on offense as Canada’s leading receiver with 49 yards on just four receptions in a 35-6 final.

“First of all, we knew Australia was going to be a great opposition. They hired highly experienced and qualified coaches from the US and they put a lot of money to launch the program.

Yet, as the host team, we needed to start the tournament strong and make a statement that we were there to win a gold medal.”

The following contest saw Pontbriand continue to establish herself as one of the finest receivers at the IFAF Worlds. Competing against a Great Britain roster that featured Jo Kilby, Ruth Matta and Phoebe Schecter, who would follow up Vancouver with a coaching internship with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, it was another contest filled with the ambience of historic achievement.

In action vs. Team Great Britain (Credit: Jes Quesada)

Considering that Great Britain was making their debut at the IFAF Worlds, prevailing in their opening game against medal favorite Finland, it was a team that could not be taken lightly. Once again, Pontbriand rose to the occasion, showing the kind of veteran poise that made her a cornerstone of the passing game.

Recording an astounding 135 receiving yards against Great Britain, Pontbriand was essential in a 35-0 final. Pacing all receivers with another four receptions, she helped propel Canada to its third straight appearance in the gold medal game.

Credit: Jes Quesada

“I attribute my success to hard work. I put a lot of effort in the past years to get bigger, stronger and faster. I try to follow an Olympian journey in terms of training, sleeping and eating habits. I think it finally paid this season.”

While she showed tremendous offensive synergy with quarterback Aimee Kowalski, a two-time WWCFL champion with the Regina Riot, there was another unique element to her Team Canada experience.

When Pontbriand suited up for Canada at the 2013 edition of the IFAF Women’s Worlds, Saadia Ashraf, who was crucial in bringing encouraging change for the female game, shared quarterbacking duties with Kowalski. Fast forward to 2017, and a new generation of quarterback for the Blitz donned Canada’s colors. With Maude Lacasse serving in a backup role to Kowalski, it only added luster to Pontbriand’s experience in Vancouver, while extending the legacy of the Blitz as a team filled with world class talent.

“Maude is also my QB with the Montreal Blitz. We know each other very well so it makes it easy to play with her. She knows where I am on the field and I know where she’s going to put the football. We have a magic connection that makes me want to keep playing football for a long time.”

With the Blitz having made the transition to the Women’s Football Alliance in 2017, Pontbriand was integral to their continued success. Her 591 receiving yards would rank sixth in the league, complemented by an average of 17.9 yards per reception, plus an impressive 10 receiving touchdowns, which ranked 13th among the league’s leaders, respectively. Showing versatility as a punt returner, highlighted by three touchdowns, she placed 10th in the WFA. Coincidentally, Chicago’s Cassey Brick, an eventual teammate with Pontbriand on the Canadian contingent ranked 11th.

Considering that there were over 30 new players on the 2017 edition of Team Canada, Pontbriand was one of only 13 players on the roster with previous experience at the IFAF level. Of note, eight players representing the Blitz were also new to Team Canada.

Among them included defensive stalwarts Joanie Duchesneau, Amelie Janson and Virginie Roussel, along with offensive stars such as Maude Lacasse, Laurence Thivierge and Sonia Brodeur, plus fellow Blitz wide receivers Rose-Amelie Brunet and Annabelle Chevrier. Undoubtedly, Pontbriand was a positive influence for these players, while serving as a role model for her fellow receivers experiencing the euphoric milestone of wearing the Canadian jersey for the first time.

“I definitely like leading by example. If my teammates can get inspired by the effort I give on and off the field then yes, I see my self as a leader. I let my actions speak louder than my words.”

Also one of the key contributors to the Blitz becoming female sporting icons in the province of Quebec, helping redefine football and the empowering role that women can have in sport, Pontbriand was definitely a key figure during the team’s halcyon days. With a solid work ethic and veteran presence that is also essential to the close-knit culture of the Blitz, such values resulted in a seamless transition on Canada’s roster, as Pontbriand continued to set a sterling example while fostering friendship and encouragement.

With the IFAF Worlds taking place in the same week as Canada’s 150th birthday, it was the kind of event that helped give female football a well deserved place in the national sporting conversation. For a competitor of eminence like Pontbriand, it was an event that affirmed her status as one of the world’s finest wide receivers, able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the game’s greats.

Pontbriand receiving postgame honors (Credit: Russ Desaulniers)

“Representing your country is always an honour but when you can do it on home soil, it is a great opportunity to grow the sport across the nation.

We need the girls to see us playing at the highest level and inspire them to try the sport by seeing hard tackles, one hand catches, 50+ yards passes, pick 6, etc.

I am very proud to be able to do that with 9 other Blitz players that share the same passion for the greatest sport on earth.”



“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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