BY JOE WEPPLER
Despite a heartbreaking loss in the regional finals to Humber College, the coach of Conestoga College’s varsity women’s rugby team has been named the women’s rugby overall coach of the year by the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association.
Lori Artinger – who started coaching at Conestoga as an assistant in 2011 – has been playing rugby since Grade 9.
“I love playing rugby, so after some surgeries on my knee, I just couldn’t give the sport up,” she said. “I figured coaching is the next best thing.”
Artinger coached at the high school and club level before joining the Conestoga squad for its inaugural year in 2011. In that season, the Condors fought their way to the gold medal game, where they lost by the skin of their teeth. This year, the team finished the season with a record of 5-1-0, once again taking home an OCAA silver medal.
“Watching them develop as players and people and seeing how they grow is great,” said Artinger when asked about her team. “Teaching a skill one day and seeing it being implemented the next, you think – hey, we’re getting somewhere!”
“She’s always positive and very understanding,” said first-year pre-health student and varsity rugby player, Kyla VanderSlagt. “She’s motivating and has taught me so much about rugby. I couldn’t thank her enough for everything she did for me and our team this season.”
Artinger, who also won the western division coach of the year, emphasized the importance of teamwork and creating relationships when asked about her coaching philosophy.
“Your teammates are your family. You work hard as a team and you do everything in your power to help your teammates succeed,” she said. “Camaraderie is a huge aspect in the sport of rugby, so I always try to encourage that both on and off the field.”
As important as that bond is, Artinger admits that her favourite part of coaching is winning games.
“There’s that adrenaline rush you get when the team walks off and they’ve just won – you see the smiles on the girls’ faces and you know exactly how they feel,” she said.
One of Artinger’s players and second-year print journalism student Marissa Cuddy said Artinger definitely deserved the award.
“She’s very humble and she coaches in a way that each person is impacted and each person is doing what they should be doing,” said Cuddy. “She pushes people to do their best, but she’s a really friendly person and it’s easy to just go up and talk to her about anything.”
The OCAA announces awards and nominations every year. Two students from Conestoga College’s women’s rugby team, Scarlett Jarquin and Nicky Madill, were nominated this year as OCAA west region women’s rugby all-stars.