Remarkable asset

Worldly DeGuise an asset on Canadian national team

Currently based out of London, England, Montreal Blitz legend Jenn DeGuise is enriching her life in a new role as an educator, primarily as a physical education teacher. Having traveled to Sweden and Finland with the Canadian National Women’s Football Team in 2010 and 2013, she has proudly represented her homeland in two superlative silver medal efforts.

Prior to her gridiron glories, DeGuise was a member of the Concordia Stingers women’s rugby team. Competing for head coach Graeme McGravie as a centre for the famed Montreal-based University, she would be part of the Stingers conference championship team in 2007. One of the highlights of her rugby career was being recognizes as Concordia’s Athlete of the Week during her fourth year. She would score five tries in an 81-0 whitewashing over the Bishop’s Gaiters.

Playing alongside elite players like Sydnie Theriault and Jackie Tittley, she would learn the values of teamwork and leadership. The lessons learned as a Stinger would serve as the springboard towards other athletic opportunities.

While she competed for the Montreal Blitz in recent years, DeGuise actually studied at the University of Ottawa. Having made the Ottawa-suburb Kanata her home for several seasons, the commitment to study yet grace the gridiron was nothing short of remarkable. Such a strong display of character is what makes DeGuise one of the most formidable linebackers in the country.

During her tenure with the Blitz, 2012 would represent two treasured milestones in her storied career. With the Blitz being the only Canadian-based franchise in the Independent Women’s Football League, the opportunity to help the club claim the 2012 IWFL Tier I world champion was the culmination of years of sacrifice and hard work. In that same year, DeGuise would be named to Team Quebec. Competing in the first-ever Canadian National Women’s Football Championships, she would be part of an undefeated squad which captured the historic title.

Riding such momentum in 2013, it came as no surprise when DeGuise was named to the Canadian contingent. The only surprise may have been the fact that she was in London at the time of the announcement. Of note, she received the news only two weeks after relocating across the Atlantic. Training with the London Olympians men’s football team since November 2012, they have been unsung heroes in her preparation to represent Canada on the international stage. In return, she would help teach the fundamentals of the game to some of their junior players. Perhaps a coaching tenure would help extend her football career while continuing to shatter barriers.

She was one of 11 players from the Blitz (including team president and quarterback Saadia Ashraf) who donned the Canadian jersey in Vantaa, Finland. Compared to the 2010 squad that DeGuise competed on, there were only four Blitz players on that team. Of the 11 Blitz players, DeGuise was one of four that competed on defense for Canada. She was joined by Annie Arpin, Frederique Crete, and Emilie P. Belanger. The opportunity to share the Team Canada experience with so many Blitz players was memorable,

“Absolutely, it was great to have more of a representation of Players and coaches from the blitz on Team Canada this year as opposed to only 4 in 2010. They brought more of an understanding to playing American-rules football (the Blitz are the only female team in Canada who play American rules). It also made it easier to play for a coach whom I was familiar playing for and to play a system in which I was already very familiar with. If anything it was exacting to get to life THAT experience with girls who I had starting my football playing with ten years ago.”

In terms of a highlight at the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds, De Guise reflects on the bigger picture. As one of the few women who had the opportunity to be part of the 2010 and 2013 Canadian teams, her memories are based on a series of accomplishments that have helped to stir national pride while expressing her love for the game.

“I cannot even express how much of an honor it was to be a captain in both 2010 and 2013. To have the opportunity to compete at the international level and win two silver medals, while playing against some of the world’s greatest women football players definitely tops the list too.

It is really a dream come true and such a stepping stone for women’s football on its own. Also to see how much the sport had grown in terms of skill level and number of countries playing around the world from 2010 to 2013 is incredible. I am anxious to see how it is going to grow in the years to come.

Not even to mention having the opportunity to meet and play with girls from across Canada. I would have to say all in all, the memories and the people I shared them would definitely be one of my favorite parts.”
Statistically, DeGuise was one of the most productive Canadian defenders in both events. In 2010, DeGuise was the second leading tackler with 12.5. Her four tackles for loss were a team-high. Of note, three of those tackles for loss came in a Canada Day 2010 win over Germany. Against Sweden, she would return an interception for touchdown.

Three years later, DeGuise ranked sixth on the Canadian team in tackles. Her 2.5 tackles for loss ranked third among all defenders on the squad. Each one of those tackles for loss would come in Canada’s opening win against a Spanish team making their debut in the IFAF Worlds.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of competing for Canada is the fact that players from numerous leagues, from coast to coast, converge on one location and manage to become part of one unified objective. Such strong chemistry is the foundation for a successful Canadian team built on respect and friendship. It is not lost on a leader such as DeGuise,

“I had the chance to play with many girls from the WWCFL and MWFL back in 2010 along with this past year and I had no problem calling them teammates at either occasion. I just think it is incredible how 45 girls from many different teams could be joined together and in such a short period of time go from being complete strangers, build trust and respect amongst each other and become teammates so quickly.

It is incredible and building such strong friendships and having experiences that you will remember for a lifetime…so no I did not find it hard at all (to play with the others). We were all there to achieve one common thing and I think once we all realized that, nothing else mattered.”

A few weeks after the Women’s Worlds in Finland, the Blitz had captured the IWFL Tier II championship. Sadly, DeGuise was not part of the franchise’s fourth IWFL title. Despite her absence, her heart was certainly with her team. The 2013 run to the title evoked fond memories of when DeGuise helped the Blitz to their second title in 2010.

“After Finland, I unfortunately did not get the chance to compete in the IWFL championships with the Montreal Blitz and win another title. I had spent the last year living in London, England working and training for the World Championships so I was not a part of this year’s team.

Though I was so incredibly happy for them and knew the exact feeling of joy and accomplishment that they just have felt! I experienced the exact scenario in 2010 winning the IWFL Championships immediately after winning silver at Worlds. It was by far the most memorable year of my entire football career.”

While DeGuise writes the newest chapter of her life across the Atlantic, her legacy as a pioneer for modern day women’s football in Canada is secure. From having helped the Montreal Blitz emerge as one of the most competitive teams in the IWFL to adding an element of leadership on a nascent Canadian national team, DeGuise was motivated by a love of the game. Considering the city of Montreal has emerged as one of the hot spots for both women’s hockey and football, DeGuise was truly one of the great builders and heroes for Montreal women’s sports.

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Photo: DeGuise (left) and Blitz teammate Alia Palmer adorned with silver medals at the 2013 IFAF Worlds in Vantaa, Finland.

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