Rueve ready to bounce back with Valkyries

As the Saskatoon Valkyries bring great ambition to the gridiron, looking to become the first team to capture five WWCFL titles, the presence of Rienna Rueve is a tremendous boost to the green and white’s morale. Among the most durable and dependable veteran leaders, Rueve has experienced the glory of winning a championship, a thrill that she hopes to gain once more.

With an offseason one where Rueve underwent reconstructive ACL surgery, the fact that she is back with the Valkyries is testament to her endurance. While Rueve reveals that she spent several seasons playing fearlessly with a torn ACL, managing to experience success on the gridiron, eventually, there would be a requirement for surgery.

“I have actually had the same ACL reconstructed twice in three years. The first surgery was successful for over a year, including my second football season, before I re-tore it playing rec soccer. The timing of the injury was very close to the next season’s start up. Instead of repairing it then I decided to work hard on recovery and attempt to play the upcoming season. I figured I had nothing to lose by trying. I ended up playing my best two seasons of football with that torn ACL. It finally gave out on me for the last time with a minute left in our final game of the 2015 season.

After that my surgeon and I agreed that it was time to fix it. So in August we went for round two. The second time around was definitely more painful, and I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy recovery. However, I already had some experience in the recovery department.”

Considering that the injury was endured as the seconds ticked away to the 2015 season, undoubtedly, the most frustrating in Valkyries history, it is only fitting that she made a recovery. Emerging once again as the dominant juggernaut of WWCFL play, Rueve’s recovery, and increased confidence, has run parallel with the success of the Valkyries. As the psychological aspect of recovering is just as important as the physical, Rueve’s bravura has set a positive tone,

“My goal early on was to be able to play this 2016 season and I set some really high standards for myself. It’s been nine months of hard work, and it’s paid off. I was back to full agility after five and a half months, and cleared for contact after eight. I’m definitely the strongest I’ve ever been, and thanks to a great team of trainers I feel confident on the field.

You have to be confident after coming back from surgery if you are going to play. If you’re hesitant, it means you are not prepared, or you didn’t put in the work beforehand. I know the risks involved in playing contact football, especially after undergoing multiple surgeries. But I’ve followed protocol, put in the effort, and am really excited to finally be playing with a healthy ACL and to see what I can accomplish.”

In addition to Rueve’s confidence, perhaps her most endearing quality is her versatility. While Rueve is highly visible on the gridiron as a defensive back, she is equally effective in her capacity as a kicker. Although the dominance of the Valkyries has required little dependence on the kicking game, Rueve’s background in soccer would surprisingly open the door towards extending her sporting endeavors towards the gridiron,

“I got into kicking because at the first couple practices five years ago, our coaches asked anyone who’s played soccer before to come try. I was very new to football and figured being able to kick/punt would help me get some playing time. In my first year that’s pretty much all I was able to do because I tore my ACL in my first series at defensive back. I was lucky, got a knee brace and finished off the season as a kicker.

In the last four seasons, I’ve started at defensive back. It is definitely my primary position, and where I want to be on the field. I still do some kicking, but not as much as in previous years.”

With the maturity of a leader, Rueve acknowledges that the kicking game cannot be taken for granted, one where a missed kick can be extremely visceral for the entire roster. As the Valkyries remain the team to beat in WWCFL play, she recognizes that kicking is an invaluable component to success for any team.

“I would consider kicker and punter to be pressure positions. In our first few seasons of Valkyries, we completely dominated the competition. In games like those where the score is so one sided, the pressure is not as intense. Now that we have teams in our league whose number one goal is to take us down, things get a little more serious.

I try not to let the pressure get to me. It is part of the game and just one more job that needs to be done on the field. You need to have a short memory when you play football. If you miss a kick or a tackle, you need to forget about it and get ready for the next play. That being said, after the games are over I still remember the one’s I’ve missed.”

In reflecting on her career so far with the Valkyries, it was her third season that provided Rueve with the most favorite moment. Like so many other women of the gridiron, Rueve also began to take on a role coaching junior teams. That role helped to enhance her understanding of the game, one that brought much clarity to the game’s strategic approach while placing her among the team’s statistical leaders.

“I think my favorite moment was during my third year. Football was finally making sense to me, and a big part of that came from coaching high school. Things just finally seemed to start clicking at defensive back, and I somehow ended up leading my team in interceptions that year.

The stand out moment for me was when I scored a pick six playing on an overgrown grass field in Winnipeg in the pouring rain. I caught the ball on our forty yard line and had a long way to run. I never actually thought I was going to make it. I ran into the end zone and didn’t have time to celebrate as I had to kick the point after.

As the field goal team came on, my teammates were super excited for me and no one remembered to bring the placement tee as it usually is my job. Our bench was seventy yards away and there was no way I was running back there as I was already near death. So I ripped out some of the grass and ended up kicking off the ground and it luckily went in. I don’t know often that has happened, but a pick seven felt pretty good.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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