Trina Graves reflects on the Team Canada experience at the IFAF Worlds

As one of the cornerstones of the Saint John Storm, the opportunity to don the red and white jersey of Team Canada was a dream come true for Trina Graves. With the added prestige of being named one of the squad’s captains, it was a chance for the others to appreciate her love of the game. Heading into the first game for the Canadian contingent, there was a sense of excitement and anticipation. Competing against Spain, Graves described the feeling in the locker room,

“In a word, loud (laughs). Nerves were replaced by excitement, elation, conversations about plays, catches, hits, things we did well and things we could work on.”

While Canada would prevail against Spain in a whitewash, the second contest against Finland had a much different tone. Facing a halftime deficit at the hands of the host country, the adversity did not shake Canada’s confidence. With a 12-6 setback against Finland at halftime, it would prove to be a defining moment of the Women’s Worlds.

“There was not a doubt in my mind that we had the skill, will, ability and heart to come back against Finland. Both teams showed very little of their “master plan” if you will in their first games on either side of the ball.

So in the beginning, we were finding very quickly that adjustments needed to be made. After the locker room at halftime, I think we came back out a different team. We went to Finland with a very specific goal, and anything less was not an option.”

Although Graves only registered two total tackles in the game, both of them helped to shift the morale in Canada’s favour. A solo tackle of Tiina Salo for a loss of one yard in the first quarter forced the host country Finland to punt. The result was Canada gaining possession and Marci Kiselyk scoring a touchdown to tie the game at 6 apiece. After the emotional halftime, Graves and Julie Paetsch combined for a tackle on Kirsti Nirhamo during Finland’s first possession of the second half. Forcing a third down, Finland would eventually punt. On Canada’s next possession, Aimee Kowalksi would rush 16 yards for a touchdown.

Since the inaugural IFAF Women’s Worlds in 2010, women’s football in Canada has grown by a quantum leap. With the advances in the game, it marked the first time that many competitors from the Western Women’s Canadian Football League and Maritime Women’s Football League would call each other teammates.

For Graves, her initial exposure to many of the WWCFL players came as a member of Team Atlantic during the 2012 Canadian Nationals, another breakthrough for women’s football. The opportunity to compete with them as proud members of Canada’s team brought with it a sense of pride.

“The ladies from out west were great, and more specifically, the women I had the pleasure of being on defense with. We clearly had a common goal to work towards, but on or off the field they are truly wonderful and talented women who I am proud to have represented our country along side.”

Some of the WWCFL competitors that Graves played with on the starting lineup for Canada’s defense included Becky Wallis (Regina Riot), Jamie Lammerding (Saskatoon Valkyries), Juile Paetsch (Saskatoon), Emma Hicks (Regina) and Adrienne Zuck (Regina)

Graves would finish sixth overall on the Canadian squad in total tackles. In a 50-0 win over Spain on July 2, Graves registered 4.5 total tackles including one for a six-yard loss. With the opportunity to compete on the world’s biggest stage, serving on Team Canada as a captain represented a strong point of pride for Graves. In reflecting on the experience, it was a treasured moment for her.

“For me the moment that stands out the most above the hits, the hype in the dressing room and the blur of the games, was the overwhelming sense of accomplishment when the coaching staff chose to name me as one of the captains for Team Canada 2013.

I am a captain at home for SJ Storm and take that responsibility very seriously. Yet, to be chosen at that level; to have that faith put in you that you have what it takes to help lead such an amazing group of women. It only amplifies the desire to do so, and fuels the fire in your belly to lift the team higher.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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