Proud Canadian

Canadian team captain Kiselyk reflects on the 2013 IFAF Worlds.

Having helped the Saskatoon Valkyries capture three Western Women’s Canadian Football League titles, Marci Kiselyk was an ideal choice to be named as one of Team Canada’s captains for the IFAF Worlds. A proven winner, Kiselyk is one of the pioneers of women’s tackle football in Western Canada.

In addition, she has also broken ground as a coach. In 2012, she was a receivers coach for the Aden Bowman junior boys’ team, a great sign that women are developing into coaches for both the male and female game. Having played for Team Canada head coach Jeff Yausie with the Valkyries, she had an ideal mentor. From a coaching perspective, Kiselyk had the best of both worlds, as she also learned from other coaches on the Canadian contingent she had never worked with before.

“Both the Saskatoon Valkyries and Montreal Blitz players were fortunate to have several of their coaches named to the Team Canada coaching staff. I believe that this may have enabled us to settle into training camp a bit more quickly than some of the other athletes because we already knew what we could expect from some of the coaches.

However, because of the high calibre of the players and the tournament style of play, I noticed that Jeff and the other Saskatoon coaches demonstrated a different coaching style for this competition than they had in our Valkyries seasons. Also, I am very grateful for the opportunity to have been coached by new coaches. Getting a new perspective is something that every athlete can benefit from.”

Like many of her teammates, it was an opportunity to get to know players from other leagues across the country. Of note, the Montreal Blitz were the 2012 champions of the Independent Women’s Football League. Lara Guscott played for the Kansas City Tribe of the Women’s Football Alliance, while the Maritime Women’s Football League provided several players.

“I consider myself very lucky to have been able to play with new women during my Team Canada experience. There were 30 athletes I had never played with before.

It was very interesting because as a group we came from three different leagues with three different sets of rules. During training camp, we were thrown together for many hours, every day, and as such we were able to bond really quickly. I really feel as though I’ve made friendships that will last beyond this summer.”

With the various personalities on the roster, it made for some memorable moments. Starting with training camp, the fun would continue into their first game of the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds. After a 50-0 whitewashing over a very green and inexperienced Spanish team, a postgame celebration took on a whole new meaning.

“There are a few highlights for me from the trip. First of all, our training camp was held at a beautiful resort called Pajulahti. After practices, we would go jump in the lake to cool down.

Another great memory came from after our game against Spain. The Spaniards jumped in and photo bombed our celebratory picture, and they were just as happy as we were! The enthusiasm the young and inexperienced Spanish team brought to the tournament was really uplifting and reminded me why I play this sport.”

With a background in basketball (she appeared in the 2011 Canadian Interuniversity Sport women’s championship game), Kiselyk is used to high pressure situations. Her finest hour would come in a come from behind victory against Finland on July 4.

Having logged a game-high four receptions, all of her catches were for first downs. Having scored Canada’s only touchdown in the first half against Finland, she helped maintain Canada’s morale as the offense sputtered. Despite facing a 12-6 deficit at halftime, Kiselyk was optimistic the squad could bounce back.

“Even though we were down at halftime against Finland, we never felt as though we would not win the game. Although they were a very good team, it was clear to us that we were outplayed in the first half because of our own errors, which Finland was able to capitalize on.

Heading into the third the focus was on execution and aggression, because we knew if we were able to control those aspects of the game we would come out on top.”

Donning number 19 for Canada (her same number with the Valkyries), Kiselyk embodied the spirit of the game. While the tournament ended with a silver medal, the ambition and hard work that players like Kiselyk displayed will lead to a golden future and many more cherished moments.

“On a more personal note, there are three moments that I will always remember. The first came when I was named a team captain at the end of training camp. The second was putting on my jersey for the first time, and how proud I felt. Finally, I scored our first touchdown against Finland and that was another great moment for me.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Photo Credit:  Saskatoon Valkyries Football Website

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