STAFFIERI: Vancouver fulfills gridiron destiny for commendable Claire Dore

As the 2017 IFAF Women’s World Championships in Vancouver represented an opportunity for Claire Dore to achieve a dream that elevated her prominence in both Saskatchewan and Canadian, football lore, it simultaneously served as a storybook fashion. With Dore making the visceral decision to hang up her helmet following the Worlds, it was an opportunity to depart from the game atop the game’s biggest stage.

Claire Dore (wearing #24) with her fellow members of the Riot proudly wearing the Canadian jersey (Image supplied by Claire Dore)

Part of a group of players whose international experience involved donning the Canadian jersey in 2013, the chance to return in 2017 represented the extension of a proud milestone. Reflecting on the chance to compete for Canada once again, accentuated by the chance to be on home soil, the second experience saw Dore grace the gridiron with a combination of wisdom, confidence and acumen,

“In 2013, I was still relatively ‘new’ to football, having only played for three seasons. It was a big deal to learn the nuances of football, as well as the significant differences between the Canadian and American game.

This time, I had that knowledge under my belt, along with a better understanding of what was going to happen over our two weeks preparing and competing at the World Championships. It made it easier to allow myself to be in the moment, throughout.

Despite being one of the oldest players on the team, I saw more time on the field than in 2013, which I hope speaks to my work ethic, and willingness to do whatever was asked of me as a player.”

Dore during Riot player introductions (Credit: Wanda Harron Photography)

On a Canadian team that featured over 30 players making their international debut, the presence of a competitor such as Dore took on an even greater relevance. With eight teammates from the Regina Riot in Canada’s colors for the first time, Dore admirably took on the role of mentor, providing a calming presence and welcome approach that enriched the Team Canada experience for her teammate.

Although Dore remains humble about such an important role, she employed the same approach in so many sensational seasons with the Riot, testament to her dedication to the game and players alike,

“For those who were new to the experience of Team Canada, training camp and World Championships, there were many questions. I did my best to offer words of encouragement, advice and clarify any uncertainties for my teammates.

I have always done my best to be a teammate that could be approached for anything, a teammate that could be relied upon on the field and off.”

Prior to gracing the gridiron in Vancouver, Dore experienced a tremendous amount of momentum. Having won a WWCFL championship, the second in franchise history, along with the chance to compete in the final game at Mosaic Stadium, 2017 was the kind of monumental year that raised Dore’s stature to greater heights.

Sharing both the league championship experience and the privilege of wearing the Canadian jersey with other players from the Riot, it is destined to stand as one of the defining moments in Dore’s sterling gridiron career. Adding luster to such an important moment was the fact that numerous members of the Riot’s roster made the trek westward, showing their support while emphasizing a tremendous sense of team spirit,

“The Riot players have played an integral part in my life over the past seven years. Any opportunity to share experiences with them is special. Working together and winning together has been significant.
Knowing that this would be my last football event as a player made the experience one to cherish.

It is important to note that this event was not just shared by the Riot players wearing the Team Canada jersey, as a number of our teammates traveled to Langley to be at the Championships, and those who could not travel got together as a group to watch the games as they were streamed, which speaks to pride the Riot team has in all of its members.”

For one of Saskatchewan’s most accomplished women of football, the chance to be part of such an historic time in Canadian sporting history by competing in Vancouver served as the footnote to a legacy that shall be admired for the next generation of competitors in the prairie powerhouse. While Dore was surrounded by a group of women that embodied the essence of excellence in female football, the spirit of friendship was just as essential to a memorable time.

Reflections on Vancouver encompass that sense of camaraderie, one of the game’s hallmarks. Whether it was sharing Canada’s colors with the rivals from the Valkyries, becoming acquainted with the wondrous women that compete in the WWCFL’s Prairie Conference, or calling the distinguished competitors from MWFL as gridiron sisters for two weeks, Dore absorbed every moment, appreciating the chance to bring her gridiron journey to such a treasured climax,

“There were so many moments over two weeks with all of the best football players and staff in the country. Even the simple moments were special, like in our downtime just getting to know other women who share the same passion for football, but come from such diverse backgrounds.
There were so many moments in practices and games, enjoying the game of Football being played at such a high level. To see your teammate making a great catch, a great tackle, or other great, brought joy to the Championships.”

Considering that the gold medal game was contested merely hours before Canada’s sesquicentennial celebrations, the feelings of national pride were already in place with the efforts of dazzling participants such as Dore. With the chance to play on home soil in Canada’s colors, it provided Dore the treasured experience to take on the role of ambassador, representing what is great about women’s sport in Canada.

While Dore’s future in the game must involve coaching or mentoring, a figure far too valuable to not be involved in another capacity, there is no question that there was a reciprocal feeling of appreciation.
As much as Dore loved being on the field, representing Canada, gaining a podium finish on home soil, there was a sense of gratitude for the fans throughout the nation, proud to call a gridiron goddess such as Dore one of their own,

“Playing on home field made the entire event magical. To have so many friends and fans in the stands was inspiring. Finally, having my family there cheer me on, to support me, and see my final moments as player was such a comfort, and made the entire event one that will stand out in my heart and mind forever.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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