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“It was a pretty good year,” said Gabrielle Croteau, a Métis student. “The pandemic was kind of hard, and not being able to play sports was really hard.” For Croteau, the sport she missed the most was rugby though she was also involved in the ski and track teams.
Rugby has done so much for her. “When I first came here in high school, I didn’t say one word for two years. But when I started playing rugby, I came out of my shell.”
There was a pivotal tournament for when this awakening took place. “It was our first tournament in Cranbrook,” said coach Monica Fisher. “I told her she has to believe in herself! That there’s no other way this is going to work.” The next thing Coach Fisher saw: three players hanging off Croteau on the field. “She was smiling,” said Fisher. “The next day at school, I wore shorts, was smiling, didn’t have my hoodie up like I normally would’ve,” Croteau said. The sport gave her confidence.
In place of rugby, Croteau poured her passion and energy into her schoolwork. “And it definitely paid off,” she said. Croteau’s favourite grad year courses were English, chemistry and biology. “I like those the most because they are prerequisites for what I want to study at college,” she said.
Croteau plans to attend Lethbridge College next year to study environmental science. “I’ve always been drawn to nature. When I was younger, I would go out into the bush and look at plants and animals and make my own notes.”
When she’s not working or studying, you can probably find Croteau outside. Her father works as a taxidermist which provides lots of opportunities to join him hunting and tanning. She also enjoys fishing. “Right now, there’s great bass fishing.”
Already bilingual in French, this summer Croteau hopes to work for the Parks Canada trail crew as part of the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS) program.
“High school went by quickly. Grade eight was slow, but then after that it went really fast.”
James Rose, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer