Rugby Alberta continues to heap praise upon the Bow Valley Rugby Club and on Dec. 1 they added one more honour.
The Bow Valley Rugby Club has been recognized as the 2018 Club of the Year and it follows last year's second-place finish for the club excellence award.
Club administrator Francine Horton says it was a wonderful feeling to receive the award and they are particularly proud of how the club continues to flourish.
It's been about seven years since they changed their name to the Bow Valley Rugby Club and established many high-arching philosophies and aspirations to make it an inclusive community sports organization. The positive response has lead to incredible growth and development of their players. They now have over 240 players from U7 to adult men and women in the organization and registration continues to climb.
"We’re actually getting to the point now where we might even have to have waiting lists, which we’ve never had before," says Horton.
"We’re growing very quickly and very rapidly and we don’t want to lose the quality. So we have to be careful."
The principles of being inclusive, affordable, fun and encouraging members to be multisport athletes have resonated with the community. That inclusivity extends to not only Cochrane but nearby communities along the Hwy. 22 corridor.
"It’s step-by-step and it’s totally inclusive all the way through," explains president Adrian Turner. "We allow them to fail so they can learn from those mistakes."
Playing other sports also helps to develop different skill sets, different muscles and better prepare their players to read the game, he explains.
It's not the first time we have heard praise from provincial officials about the local rugby club.
Graeme Moffat, director of rugby for Alberta, was quick to praise Bow Valley on the sideline of a Wolfpack exhibition game here in the summer.
"I think this is such a romantic story in Bow Valley," said Moffat this summer. "You've got a small group of guys that founded a club and in their fifth or sixth year they're playing in the premiership division, won the second division last year and they have a great junior program. They've done a fantastic job in growing the game here and we just want to support them any way we can."
The club has built its success around a group of passionate and dedicated people.
"We’re very lucky because all of our coaches are either level 1 or 2 trained, but they also have a real passion for rugby," says Horton. "Either they’ve played or been around rugby all of their lives so they’re a really passionate bunch and I think that really, really helps."
They've also seen their younger players continue with the sport into their adult years. Players developed in the Bow Valley system are now coming of age to join the adult Grizzlies teams. As well, the next high school teams continue to have more and more members who have been nurtured by the club's system. The high school boys team, for one, will largely be formed by BVRC players this coming season.
Others, too, have gone on to represent regional, provincial and national teams. Local teams also regularly compete in the region, go on tour and invite other touring teams here, like the Altrincham Grammar School for Boys teams, of the Greater Manchester area, who played exhibition games here last summer.
Says Turner, "We try to showcase the sports and grow the sport. Probably ladies rugby is the fastest growing sport in the world and the Canadian ladies national team is very, very competitive. We’ve got to get the men’s team to the same level and hopefully, we’re adding to that with the opportunities we create in our community. It all pushes onward."
"We want to continue to be a community club that’s totally accessible for the local community," says Turner. "Whatever we can do to engage to the community is what we’ll keep doing."
An indoor youth program begins early in the new year and registration for the outdoor season is at the end of February. Outdoor play begins in late April, early May depending upon field conditions.