Sense of vindication for Virginie Roussel with strong showing in Vancouver

As every member of Canada’s roster brought their own stories in the gridiron journey that culminated with the coveted milestone of competing at the IFAF Women’s Worlds in Vancouver, one of the most compelling belonged to linebacker Virginie Roussel. A member of the Montreal Blitz since 2013, the odyssey of this 25-year old, whose primary occupation is police officer, was one defined by a tremendous character, making her an emotional favorite among the fans.

With the Blitz having relocated to the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) in 2017, it proved to be an affirmation of Roussel’s status as a defensive luminary. In WFA play, Roussel ranked 13th in forced fumbles, while teammate Virginie Roberge was one notch higher at 12th overall. Of note, Roussel would lead the Blitz with four pass deflections while tying for second in fumble recoveries.

The chance to be named to the 2017 edition of Team Canada represented an element of redemption for Roussel. With hopes of having played for the national team in 2013, it was a four years focused on the path towards gaining the treasured chance.

Roussel (#31) in action against Team Australia (Credit: Diz Ruptive Photography, Debra Carlson)

Roussel definitely made an impression at the 2016 Canadian national women’s championship. Named to the group of Tournament All-Stars, one of nine Blitz players recognized, the impact of this leonine linebacker was enhanced by the fact that she was also named the Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament on Defense.

Upon discovery that she had been named to the Canadian contingent that would participate in 2017, it represented a validation of four years built on sweat and sacrifice. With the opportunity to join nine other players who call the Blitz their club team on this jubilant journey, it helped set an empowering tone,

“I was extremely proud to be named to the team because I had not had the chance to make the team in 2013. So I was looking forward to the 2017 edition. It is the accomplishment of hard work over 4 years of preparation. I was all the more proud to know that I was going to accompany several of my Blitz teammates.”

The realization that the gridiron dream came true reached its apex when Canada took to the field for its opening game of the event. With said event being hosted in Vancouver, the first time that the IFAF Worlds were hosted in North America, it provided extra motivation for an inspired Roussel.

With Canada hosting Australia, who were making their tournament debut, it was a monumental game that truly allowed for an unprecedented feeling of attainment for so many on the gridiron, including a jubilant Roussel. Reflecting on the opportunity to wear the Canadian journey for the first time, a milestone that was four years in the making, feelings of validation, affirmation and achievement encompassed such a rewarding time for her,

“This is a moment that I will always remember. It is a moment of pure pride to be able to represent Canada at the world championships. It is also something that I will not necessarily recreate, so I really enjoyed that moment plenty.”

Black and white head shot of Roussel (Credit: Diz Ruptive Photography, Debra Carlson)

Joined on the defense by Blitz teammates Joanie Duchseneau and Amelie Janson (also a member of the 2016 Tournament All-Stars), there was a tremendous sense of duty among this triptych of talent to represent the Blitz with honour. Despite the fact that all of these defensive gems from the Blitz were making their debut for Team Canada, Roussel certainly possessed a veteran presence that made her an essential component of Canada’s defensive unit.

Although Roussel brought a remarkable leadership to the roster, while serving as a role model for some of the younger Blitz players, exemplifying the values of hard work and perseverance, she also found inspiration among another member of the Blitz donning Canada’s colors.

“It was very important for me to undergo this experience with the Blitz girls. We have an excellent team chemistry, so to be able to bring this interaction to Team Canada and to be able to live this experience together is unique.”

In reflecting on the privilege of sharing this opportunity with her fellow Blitz competitors, Roussel acknowledged the impact of Virginie Roberge, a member of Canada’s offensive line. One of two Blitz competitors on the offensive line, including Sonia Brodeur, Roberge brought a unique element to the Canadian roster.

One of 13 competitors who played for Canada at the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds, Roberge, who once played rugby for the University of Montreal, brought 10 seasons of experience as a member of the Blitz. As a side note, Roberge was among three offensive linemen that were part of the 2013 roster, including Jaime Lammerding of the Saskatoon Valkyries and Trina Graves, a member of the 2017 MWFL champion Saint John Storm.

“Yes, Virginie Roberge is a role model for me. This was her second experience at the championships, and has enjoyed many years with the Blitz. She is a very hard-working and very dedication player.

It is great motivation to have a player like her as a teammate. She is a player who is working in the background, but her involvement on the field is essential for the team. She is definitely a leader for me.”

Emerging from Vancouver with a silver medal, the prestige of a podium finish added lustre to an amazing time for the remarkable Roussel. Having amassed a sensational number of memories, it is woven into a tapestry that shall forever stand as an unforgettable milestone in her career.

“I could not name only one favorite moment, because it was an unforgettable experience filled with significant moments. On the other hand, what I enjoyed most was sharing the field with the girls on the Blitz. Also being with some forty players from across Canada and with whom, working together, we were able to create a team spirit very quickly.

I keep good memories of the championships and I certainly came out better than before. Thanks to our coaches who pushed us to the best of ourselves and to the high level of game that we played.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

NOTE: As this interview was conducted in French, please find the original quotes before translation:

“J’étais extremement fiere d’être nommée sur l’équipe, car je n’avais pas eu la chance de faire l’équipe en 2013. Alors j’attendais l’édition 2017 avec impatience. C’est l’accomplissement d’un travail acharné sur 4 ans de préparation. J’étais d’autant plus fière que j’allais accompagner plusieurs autres de mes coéquipière du Blitz.”

“C’est un moment que je me souviendrai toujours. C’est un moment de pure fierté que de pouvoir représenter le Canada au championnat du monde. C’est aussi quelques chose que je ne reviverai pas nécéssairement, alors jai vraiment profité plainement de ce moment.”

“C’était très important pour moi de vivre cette expérience avec les filles du Blitz. Nous avons une excellente chimie d’équipe, alors de pouvoir amener cette chimie sur team Canada et de pouvoir vivre cette expérience ensemble est unique. Oui, Virginie Roberge est une role model pour moi. Elle en était à ça deuxième expérience au championnant et de nombreuses années acec le Blitz. C’est une joueuse qui travaille très fort et qui s’entraîne énormément. C’est une grande motivation d’avoir une joueuse comme elle comme coéquipière. C’est une joueuse qui es OL qui travaille dans l’ombre, mais son implication sur le terrain est essentiel pour l’équipe. Elle est définitement une leader pour moi.”

“Je ne pourrais nommer qu’un seul moment favoris, car c’était une expérience innoubliable remplis de moments marquants. Par contre, ce que j’ai le plus apprécier, c’était de pouvoir partager le terrain avec les filles du blitz, mais aussi d’être avec la quarantaine de joueuses qui proviennent d’un peu partout au Canada et avec qui, en travaillant ensemble nous avons réussi à créer un esprit d’équipe très rapidement.

Je garde que de bons souvenirs du championnat et j’en ressort certainement meilleure qu’avant grace à nos entraîneurs qui nous ont poussé au meilleur de nous-même et au niveau de jeu élevé des matchs.”

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