By Kyra Wex –
Rugby can be a grueling sport just on its own, but adding extra curriculars and maintaining a decent average so you can go to university is even more of a challenge. Aidan Harris and Jonah Zgraggen, grade twelve students at Nepean High School, explain how it’s possible to be at the top of their game while achieving academic success.
“For the last few years, our rugby team has been quite accomplished. We have won City Champions for the past three years,” says Aidan.
Aidan and Jonah have both been involved with the team since grade nine. They practice for the fall and spring season at McKellar Park for one to two hours after school, five times a week. Spring Season Rugby begins after March Break. This is when the team builds their fitness level up again with OFSAA in mind.
“We spend our practices mostly running and practicing ball handling techniques. It is important to have fast players and smart players on this team to ensure our success,” explains Jonah. “Our skills have been developing each year, as we gain more quick thinking skills and improve our endurance.”
A successful team combines physical endurance, skilled ball handlers, and quick strategic thinkers. It also helps they’ve been working with the same players since grade nine.
“This helps with team bonding and ultimate team performance, as we have molded together to form a fluid and strong rugby team,” says Aidan. “This is a big commitment that we have all signed up for… and it’s worth it!”
Balancing school, extracurricular activities and a grueling team schedule haven’t been easy for these young athletes.
Jonah is involved in the school play, is a member of the NHS student council, and is active in other school sports. He does this while managing to achieve an 85% average.
“It can get difficult when I have to balance soccer and rugby – both are run in the fall, although the key is time management,” says Jonah. “Ensuring school work is completed and well understood must be a priority. I have figured out a schedule that works for me with regards to giving myself clear timelines to focus and complete school work and activities.”
Jonah and Aidan share similar opinions why their team has been successful over the years. Strong players with varied skills are key, but it’s also about the coaching.
“We are lucky to have received coaches from both inside and outside of the school who are experienced, knowledgeable and passionate,” says Aidan. “They act as key motivators and drivers for our successes and how we perform on the field. They help us players strive for greatness.”
Jonah and Aidan agree that rugby has enhanced their high school experience. It has been a way for them to get involved in the school and make new friends and bonds that will last throughout high school and beyond.
“I have gained more skills, learned new techniques, met amazing team mates and have been able to share memorable experiences with the NHS rugby team,” says Aidan.
Jonah Zgraggen and Aidan Harris are looking forward to the next season coming up this spring, and are determined for another successful win.
Other Nepean High School rugby news!
Ella Beveridge, a grade 12 student at Nepean, recently visited Vegas to compete in an invitational tournament with rugby teams from around the world.
“We placed fifth in the cup division, which is the highest tier,” says Ella. “This was a very cool experience for us, as we [also] got to interact and talk to experienced rugby players. They provided us with tips and tactics to continue to succeed in our rugby games.”
Ella joined the team in grade nine. “It really helped me come out of my shell, as it allowed me to meet new people,” she explains. “It is a varsity team, so it was nice being in grade nine and having older people on the team to look up to and aspire to be.”
She credits her coaches, who helped push her to her fullest potential.
“Overall this experience has enabled me to gain more skills, meet new people and travel to interesting places… truly rewarding!”
Kyra Wex is a grade 12 student at Nepean High School.