Ath­lete head­ing to New Zealand

Kal Sager com­pet­ing in­World U18 School Sevens Tour­na­ment

The Peterborough Examiner - - Sports - MIKE DAVIES Ex­am­iner Staff Writer Mike.Davies @pe­ter­bor­ough­daily.com

Kal Sager played his first rugby sevens game two months ago and on Fri­day will board a plane to New Zealand with Canada’s U18 sevens team.

Sager, 17, and his Thomas A. Ste­wart Griffins’ rugby team­mate Braden Bruce were among 12 play­ers named to Canada’s ros­ter for the 2018 World U18 School Sevens Tour­na­ment in Auck­land, New Zealand Dec. 14-15. Canada will face teams from rugby na­tions like New Zealand, Tonga, Aus­tralia and Fiji.

Bruce in­vited Sager to join him on a U18 fall tour­na­ment team called the Mis­fits, based out of Markham, which played in tour­na­ments in Brant­ford, Markham, Ot­tawa and New York City. They not only won all four events it led to an op­por­tu­nity Sager never an­tic­i­pated when na­tional team coaches ap­proached him in Brant­ford to let him know they were scout­ing him. A month later he got an email in­form­ing him he’d been se­lected to Team Canada.

“It was mind-blow­ing be­cause I’ve only played sevens for re­ally two months,” said Sager. “It was re­ally shock­ing that it hap­pened that quickly and that I’ll be play­ing on such a big stage. I was quite hon­oured to rep­re­sent our coun­try.”

Sager had never tried out for a pro­vin­cial or na­tional team. His rugby ex­pe­ri­ence was lim­ited to play­ing for the Peter­bor­ough Pa­gans and his high school.

“I was al­ways con­tent play­ing with my close friends in club and then these op­por­tu­ni­ties arose. It’s amaz­ing,” he said.

Sager lives in Bob­cay­geon but his fa­ther Eric is an en­vi­ron­men­tal science pro­fes­sor at Trent Uni­ver­sity so he’s driven into Peter­bor­ough with him to at­tend TASSS.

His mother Sheena is a re­searcher spe­cial­iz­ing in elec­tro­mag­netic fields.

Nei­ther has any rugby ex­pe­ri­ence but they do have ath­letic back­grounds.

His fa­ther played col­le­giate bas­ket­ball at Lawrence Uni­ver­sity in Wis­con­sin and his mother played var­sity vol­ley­ball at the Uni­ver­sity of Toronto.

Sager also quar­ter­backed the se­nior foot­ball team at his high school.

Sager said he is ex­cited for the op­por­tu­nity to travel to New Zealand.

“I’ve al­ways dreamed of go­ing to New Zealand ac­tu­ally. My fam­ily has trav­elled to lots of other places but it’s one place I’ve never been,” he said. “Play­ing for Team Canada is one thing and trav­el­ling all the way to New Zealand to do it is ab­so­lutely in­cred­i­ble.

“I’m thrilled to go over there and play. It’s so dif­fer­ent. It’s on the com­plete op­po­site side of the world. It’s a dif­fer­ent cul­ture. It will be noth­ing like I have ever ex­pe­ri­enced. I’ve al­ways been a fan of new ex­pe­ri­ences.”

The tour­na­ment is an op­por­tu­nity for Cana­dian play­ers to gain ex­pe­ri­ence against high-cal­i­bre com­pe­ti­tion.

“It’s a cru­cial point of de­vel­op­ment for young ath­letes in in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion,” he said.

Bruce started play­ing for Canada last spring com­pet­ing in a Youth Olympic Games qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment. Sager said he wouldn’t have this op­por­tu­nity if Bruce didn’t rec­om­mend him for the Mis­fits.

“Braden and I hand out a lot. He’s a great, great friend who I have known for a real long time. It’s go­ing to make it more fun to be able to share these ex­pe­ri­ences with each other for, hope­fully, a long time to come,” said Sager.

It’s got Sager think­ing about what other op­por­tu­ni­ties rugby might of­fer in the fu­ture.

“I’ve al­ways loved sports of all kinds. To be able to broaden my ex­pe­ri­ence and to be able to play for Canada does make you think about what else can come down the road.

“I also want to be in the mo­ment and take in this tour and see where that goes,” he said.

CLIF­FORD SKARSTEDT EX­AM­INER FILES

Thomas A. Ste­wart's Kal Sager col­lides with a Bay­side player dur­ing COSSA AAA boys' rugby on May 30.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.