Individual recognition is appreciated but what quickly brings a broad smile to Peter Hercus’ face is team improvement with a commitment to excellence.
In that regard, the head coach of the Trent Excalibur women’s rugby team is very pleased with how the just ended OUA season played out.
“We’re getting better every year,” says Mr. Hercus who has received Russell Division Coach of the Year honours – one of four individual awards granted the team.
“We had a big transition of players this year and the players are very committed. They work hard and are very dedicated to the team and the Excalibur varsity program overall. The team wants to take it to another level and the players treat it almost like a job."
The Excalibur Women’s rugby team did its job well, winning three of four regular season games. The team’s first playoff game, a 71-0 loss to McMaster, was a rude awakening but Excalibur rebounded strong, downing Waterloo 50-12 to stay in the playoff hunt. However, a 45-12 loss to York brought the curtain down on the season.
“It (the McMaster game) really showed the players where they need to be in order to be competitive at the top level,” says Mr. Hercus.
“We worked on a few things and against Waterloo we did a lot of those things pretty well. York is a bigger, more powerful team. We had to apply our absolute best to beat them but we’re not quite there yet.”
As much as overall team improvement remains a work in progress, what isn’t in question is the talent Mr. Hercus had to coach. Three Excalibur players claimed Russell Division awards: Caleigh MacMillan was named Player of the Year, Taylor Fronchak picked up Rookie of the Year honours and Lauryn Bons took home the Community Service Award. In addition, five players – Maddy Howells, Abbey Struyk, Shelby Oad, Ms. MacMillan and Ms. Fronchak – were named Russell Division All-Stars.
“Last year we had one all-star and no awards, so it’s nice to be on the other side. The bigger picture for me is we’re improving, and the players are enjoying it and learning from it,” says Mr. Hercus.
Looking ahead, he notes the focus will be on Excalibur being able to compete at a higher level.
“Without player commitment, it doesn’t matter what I or the other coaches do. They’ve got to want it. We’re getting there as a complete team. The change in our players from last year to this year was astounding.”
As for the individual Coach of the Year award that came his way, Mr. Hercus makes it clear it’s not his alone to claim.
“That’s an award for all of our coaching staff and the players’ hard work. The support we’re getting from the university is outstanding. There’s a group of people helping me out on many different levels so the players get the opportunity that’s in front of them.”