Sports

Rugby's iron will resides at Malvern

[attach]4533[/attach]Lesley Gage is a self-confessed gym brat.

She grew up in a household where sports ruled.

Her parents, along with her three competitive sisters, were all involved in sports in some capacity.

Her dad Stewart grew up in the Beach and canoed for the Balmy Beach Club. Her mom Sharon played baseball. The Tubs and Gee Gage Rugby Field, in the Beach, is named after her paternal grandparents.

So with a lofty family tree in sports — rugby in particular — it’s no wonder Gage wrapped up the school year coaching four of Malvern CI’s most successful teams.

Gage coached varsity girl’s field hockey, junior girls volleyball as well as the ladies of rugby 7s and 15s.

Under the phys. ed. teacher’s guidance, all teams went on to be regional champs. In addition to being masters of TDSSAA, the girls field hockey team competed at OFSAA, coming in eighth in the province.

With her tenacity, her willingness to teach kids the games of rugby and field hockey, Gage was selected as the Town Crier’s East Region Coach of the Year.

Unfortunately she was unable to attend the breakfast banquet to receive her award due to exam commitments.

It’s that dedication to both class and field that Gage knew she was cut out to teach. Her own high school rugby coach was a strong influence on her decision to coach high school sports.

Standing at four-feet, Agincourt Collegiate’s Colette Cunningham, had high expectations on her girl’s field hockey team, and imposed them.

“She was the tiniest thing,” Gage said. “I look at her now and I wonder why I was ever afraid of her.”

That helped shape Gage’s own coaching philosophy.

“She was great at getting us to believe in ourselves,” she said. “We worked hard for her and we didn’t want to disappoint.”

Gage’s steely resolve, acquired from her teacher, is something she see in the student body at Malvern.

“They work and train really hard to surpass our expectations,” Gage said.

As for next year Gage said she wants to get more students involved in athletics and have fun. It’s all an effort to inspire confidence in them.

Her vivacity has attracted other suitors, looking to tap into her energy source. But she plans on staying put.

“I’m not going anywhere,” she said. “Malvern staff is so supportive of all extracurricular activities and the parent support is just overwhelming.

“I loved high school and Malvern is the closest memory to that for me.”