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Official Website of Best Selling Author
Tropical Leaves

Barefoot Flying

Austin Macauley Publishers
Now available on Amazon
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My Story

Helen Wright was inducted into the University of Alberta’s Hall of Fame as a builder.  She was the founder and first Head Coach of the Pandas rugby team.  She was a pioneer in establishing women’s rugby as a provincial, national, and international sport – defying stereotypes at a time when the sport was dominated by men – primarily through leading by example as a player, coach, and administrator.  Rugby’s inclusiveness, related to both ability levels and physical diversity of players, was the key factor in Wright’s commitment and advocacy for the sport.

Raised in Williams Lake, B.C., Wright came to Edmonton to study Psychology at the University of Alberta.  She was introduced to rugby as a spectator in 1977 and started playing in the position of “hooker”.  She soon helped form a new women’s team in Edmonton – the Coven – which became the third women’s team in Alberta.  Wright represented Alberta from 1986 to 1988, and she participated in the first Rugby Canada women’s national team game against the USA in Victoria in November 1987.

Wright served as Managing Director of the Alberta Rugby Union from 1987 to 2001, exerting significant influence over the continuing development of youth and women’s rugby in the province.  She served as the Alberta U19 women’s Rugby Coach from 1997 to 1999, and was named Head Coach of the U of A’s Panda rugby team in 1999.  Wright led the Pandas for five seasons – 1999 to 2003 – and in each year they were Canada West and CIAU (national) champions.  Wright was named Canada West Coach of the Year during the same five seasons, and the Pandas overall record while she was Head Coach was a remarkable 36 wins, 1 tie and 1 loss – and included five successive national championships.

Her formal coaching qualifications included Level 1 and Level 2 International Rugby Board (IRB) Rugby Coach Trainer, Level 1, 2 and 3 National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) Technical Course Conductor, and Level 1 and 2 Certified Coach in wrestling.  Wright became the CIS Coaches Association President for 2003-04, and she also oversaw the preparation of the documentation to keep women’s rugby and include men’s rugby, in the CIS during its program review.  She coached Rugby Canada U23 women in 2005 when they defeated the USA in two test matches.

Helen Wright’s involvement with rugby extended far and wide, including being the only female to coach a Men’s First Division team in the Alberta Cup when she led the Strathcona Druids in 1989-90.  She coached the Druid U17 and U19 men’s teams, the Alberta U17 men, the Clansmen 2nd division senior men, the U of A men’s club team, the St. Albert Sr. women, the Coven Sr. women, and the Alberta Sr. women.  She also served as Director of Rugby Canada’s National Women’s Team Programs.  Helen started her coaching career at Harry Ainlay High School in Edmonton, served on the IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup Organizing Committee in 2006 when Canada hosted the event for the first-time outside Europe, and coached the Strathcona Druids Women’s Club team with her son Sean from 2008-2010.  Her influence as a mentor for both male and female rugby players has been both extensive and sustained.  In recent years Helen has been inducted into the Canada West Varsity Hall of Fame and the Edmonton Rugby Union Hall of Fame.

Helen has currently been working with the elderly and disabled in her son’s Wildrose Caregivers company.  A trailblazer for women’s participation in rugby in Canada, her coaching philosophy has always been to enable players to learn who they are and discover what they can accomplish, thereby empowering themselves for life.  Her extraordinary success as a player, coach, mentor, and administrator in rugby at the U of A – and far beyond – is a tribute to her unstoppable passion and commitment to push boundaries.

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Barefoot Flying

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