WAVERLEY: For all the success Brooklyn Peyton is having in her short time since picking up the sport of rugby, the Waverley girl owes one person a lot of credit for getting her involved—her best friend Kiera Hiltz.
Peyton was convinced to give Lockview High rugby a try by Hiltz last February, having never touched a rugby ball or for that matter know much about the sport. She was a soccer player.
However, that quickly changed after she took to the pitch for her first tryout with the Ken Baker-coached Lockview High girls rugby Dragons.
“We both tried out for the team and had no idea what we were doing,” said Peyton. “Our coach pretty much taught us everything.”
She was also told by coach Ken Baker that rookies usually don’t play—except Peyton was on the starters list each game. That’s how much the coaches were impressed by her progression.
Now Peyton, 15, is also making a name for herself by donning the jerseys with the N.S. Keltics; in the Academy program with the Keltics; the Riverlake senior team; Enfield RFC; and in 7s rugby with the Exit 5 Fall River squad; and the U18 7s team.
With the N.S. Keltics she won gold at nationals and silver at Eastern Canadians; won Keltics fall rugby against University club teams; and won Keltic 7s Selects.
“It’s been a very successful past 10 months,” she said. “It’s been very crazy.”
Peyton, whose favourite sports athlete is New Zealand All Blacks rugby star Beauden Barrett, has also recently learned she is one of five named to an U18 7s team reserves/training.
Sometimes Peyton’s dad Larry will do the sprints with his daughter. He sometimes regrets that.
“Rugby is going to be the death of me,” he said with a chuckle. “I do kicks with her. I’m her tackling dummy.”
Jack Hanratty, Rugby N.S./Rugby Canada U20 women’s head coach/Canadian Senior women’s assistant coach commented about Peyton’s work ethic.
“Good athletes need to be self aware and self driven, two things that can be associated with Brooklyn,” said Hanratty. “I’m excited to see what the future holds.”
Peyton also got accolades from N.S. Keltics U16 provincial coach Emma Delorey.
“With only having less than a year under her belt, Brooklyn has exceeded the provincial coaching staff’s expectations in her training and performance,” said Delorey. “She is a dedicated player, who works hard at training but goes above and beyond by committing her own time to refine her skills.
“With another year left at the U16 age group we can expect big things from her during her high school season at Lockview and with the U16 Keltics squad in the summer.”
Baker said Peyton made an impact on the coaching staff—even with no previous experience.
“When Brooklyn came out, for the first couple of tryouts she was just one of 80 girls we had, and as we progressed we knew she had speed from playing soccer,” said Baker. “We identified some things that we knew would work with her. For someone in Grade 9 to show up with that dedication, and to ask a lot questions—she asked me a lot—that helps me.”
He said Peyton went from the development stage to the progression stage faster than some of the players who were returning from the previous year.
Baker said she improved on everything they asked of her.
“As the season progressed, we put her in some impossible positions but we knew she would show up and to come in, make mistakes but only make them once that’s all we could ask of her,” he said. “That’s what stood out the most in Brooklyn.”
Peyton is also hopeful other girls will see her success as a challenge to them—so they too will take up the sport and see what girls can do.
“Rugby has a true meaning. It’s family,” she said. “It’s just an amazing sport.”