Trina Graves Brings Diverse Athletic Background to Canadian National Team

Mark Staffieri@@MarkStaff100Contributor IIMay 23, 2013

Graves (donning number 80) chasing down a member of the Capital Area Lady Gladiators
Graves (donning number 80) chasing down a member of the Capital Area Lady Gladiators

An All-Star in the Maritime Women’s Football League, Trina Graves is preparing for her second stint with the Canadian National Team. Graves is hoping for a gold medal finish at the 2013 edition of the Women’s Tackle Football Championships.

At the inaugural 2010 Women’s Worlds, Graves was part of the silver medal squad, as she was a part of Canada’s offensive line. For 2013, she is showing versatility by shifting to defense. In competing at the defensive end position, she will be joined by the likes of Jamie Lammerding, Alexa Matwyczuk, Julie Perreault and Becky Wallis.

“It is a bit surreal still from time to time, but it means that dreams are not just dreams if you not only set your goals high but you continue to fight for them. I tried out for defense on the 2010 National Team, having dropped 20 pounds for tryouts. I ended up traveling with the team as an offensive tackle (a new and incredible experience none the less), but I knew I wanted to be able to play defense at the world level.”

As 2013 marks her sixth full season with the MWFL, Graves brings a remarkable athletic background. Like many women in the MWFL and the Western Women’s Canadian Football League, her first exposure to football came through rugby. She participated at the high school level in the 1990’s and played one year at the provincial level in New Brunswick.

“For this round, being another 45 pounds lighter, (I am) faster, and much more skilled thanks to my home team coaches and heightened focus, I will be traveling with Team Canada as a defensive end.”

“There is an incredible amount of talent on this team, as there was in 2010, and so much talent still on the individual teams across Canada that is not on the roster but gave it all at tryouts. It's an honor to be named to Team Canada for the second time with the bar having been raised so much over the last three years, and I cannot wait to meet the rest of my teammates.”

In 2001, Graves participated in football for the first time. She would also participate in a touch football league based out of Saint John, New Brunswick. Still a competitor in the league, it keeps Graves’ skills sharp, while she excels at the Quarterback position, respectively.

“Having previously been involved in league sports such as rugby and touch football, it gives you a sense of what to expect when joining any new team. I feel this is why it is beneficial for young women to experience team sports from even elementary ages and up, no matter the sport they're interested in.”

Her career would evolve to the next level when she joined the MWFL in 2007. As a member of the Saint John Storm, Graves is a two-time All-Star nod on defense (2009, 2011). Her first All-Star selection on offense in 2012 is testament to her talent. Perhaps, even greater was the three league championships that she would savor.

“Three of the full five seasons that I have played for the SJ Storm, we have taken the MWFL Championship. Each one of those three was as sweet as the others.”

“Whether you are trailing for a moment or leading the entire game, seeing the girls rally each other when the tanks are near empty, encouraging every hit to be as big as the last and motivating each other through errors is an incredible experience. Seeing all your hard work and dedication come to fruition as ANY win, whether regular season or playoffs, is the ultimate high.”

In addition, Graves would also serve the MWFL in an administrative capacity. She would have involvement with the MWFL Committee as Treasurer, giving her a different perspective on the game.

“Being the first year that I have participated in meetings and conference calls, I was not sure what to expect. Yet, having now seen the workings behind the scenes and the time and dedication that is put into this league with no monetary reward really shows the dedication that the coaches, players and team supporters have for the MWFL. Along with the desire they have to see it grow and succeed.”

Graves has also given back to the game by serving in a coaching capacity. From 2010 to 2011, Garves was an assistant coach in the Fundy Minor Girls Football Association.

“From on the field, in regards to skill, knowledge and physical fitness, to off the field, when interacting with teammates and communication, great coaching builds great individuals. These are the ladies who are going to be the foundation of the MWFL, as we senior players move on.”

“Being able to nurture and guide them, as well as to now play on the same team as some of the ladies who are where they are because of you, is a reward that's second to none. There is no better way to grow the sport you love than to be an ambassador to women who will succeed you.”

Heading into the 2013 Women’s Worlds, Graves is looking to bring back a gold medal. After the experience of competing against the United States in the gold medal game of 2010, Graves is able to reflect on that experience and absorb the lessons learned.

 “The second half of our game against the USA in 2010 was completely different from the first half because of adjustments. We need to be firing on all cylinders and in overdrive from the first snap of every game, control the ball and make them play OUR game.”

“It is not the other team getting in your head you have to worry about; it is getting in your own head that creates the downward spiral. The Worlds are top notch, hard hitting and mentally draining football with little to no recovery time between games. The team that can stand and fight together, physically and mentally, will win together, and that's exactly what Team Canada intends to do.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”