Soleil Brooks was not resting on her laurels on a rainy Tuesday afternoon.
Despite hearing she had been awarded a scholarship to play rugby for the University of Victoria next year, she was out on the Maple Ridge Secondary track doing calisthenics and cardio drills with her wrestling team mates.
“I haven’t been able to touch the ball as much as I’d like to,” she said of a lack of specific rugby practice. “So I’ve been training six days a week – sometimes twice a day – keeping my fitness up and lifting weights.”
Receiving the offer was a great sign she was on the right path, she said.
“It’s super exciting stuff, and was a nice pick-me-up, especially in the kind of situation we’re in right now.”
Brooks plays as a forward in both sevens and 15s – referring to the number of players on the pitch – and has excelled in the two versions of the sport, captaining the U16 provincial 15s team in its gold medal winning trip to the Western Canadian Championships, and playing internationally for the sevens squad.
“I think when you get to wear that blue and gold shirt, it’s something super special because not everyone gets to do it, and to be captain of that team is a real honour.”
An opportunity to play for the UVic Vikes is just as prestigious, she pointed out.
“It’s one of the top programs in the nation,” she said. “And they have an all-female coaching team, so that played a big part in my decision to accept the scholarship.
“Victoria is a huge rugby town too. The culture is there, the national team is always there, so it’s an awesome place for the sport. “
Colin Toupin has coached Brooks in rugby since she was in Grade 8, and said the talented young athlete’s work ethic, and eagerness to learn has fared her well in everything she has tried.
“Her natural athletic ability and aggression made her the player she is today,” he said.
Her long-time coach said she is extremely well-rounded, but her speed sets her apart.
“It’s unbelievable how hard she runs the ball,” he said. “She’s a strong girl, but she runs faster than most of the girls on the pitch.”
When asked about how he thinks she will fare against college competition, Toupin laughed.
“She won’t be out of place at all,” he said. “She’ll dominate.”