Local rugby star Eden Kilgour has caught the eye of Olympic talent scouts and is preparing to don the red and white when she plays with the under-18 Canadian Women's Rugby team this month in San Diego.
Kilgour is a native of Kelowna, British Columbia and moved to Oro-Medonte when she was 10-years-old. Her first opportunity in rugby came in Grade 8 when Kilgour signed up for the flag rugby team at Forest Hill Public School.
Her elusive speed grabbed the attention of a local scout.
“A scout from Barrie Rugby noticed me and invited me to come out and try it, so in the summer of Grade 9, I played rugby and I just never stopped since then,” Kilgour recalls.
With her speed, Kilgour was a great fit with the Barrie Rugby Football Club (RFC). However, at first, she was a little timid about the added physicality.
“I was nervous for sure. When I started out, I was definitely one of the smaller kids. I remember in my first game I was so scared to tackle a huge girl that was running at me,” Kilgour said.
Once Kilgour began training more, she was no longer one of the smaller girls on the team, and she maintained her greatest attribute, her speed.
“I’m typically one of the faster people on the team and I love running with the ball and getting around people,” she said.
Kilgour’s love for the game has grown significantly since she first started in Grade 8. Her skill set has gotten her noticed by the many teams she now plays on.
Aside from the Barrie RFC and U-18 Team Canada, Kilgour also plays with the Aurora Barbarians RFC, Team Ontario and her high school, Eastview Secondary School in Barrie.
Earlier this year Kilgour’s father presented her with the idea of testing her skills at RBC Training Ground in St. Catharines. The program gives young Canadian athletes the chance to test their strength, speed, power, and endurance in front of officials from Olympic sports.
“My dad came up to me one day and said I should participate in this thing and I was kind of unsure at first,” Kilgour recalls.
Kilgour was one of just 100 athletes aged 14-25 from across Canada selected. And she didn't disappoint.
Against the country's top athletes, she stood out and was invited to the next round of the talent search where she would once again impress scouts and secure a spot in the Top 30.
As a member of the elite top 30, she was awarded funding from Rugby Canada and earned official RBC Olympian status. It was well-earned recognition that proved inspiring.
“It made me more motivated to keep training and train even more because if I’m being recognized like that it means I can do anything,” she said.
Kilgour says the experience at the RBC Training Ground helped her realize how close she is to achieving her ultimate goal.
“My goal is to compete in the Summer Olympics in rugby. I always had this goal in the back of my mind, but going to the RBC training and being recognized like that gave me the confidence that I can really do it," said Kilgour.
Kilgour is also hoping to be part of a university rugby program once she has graduated high school. Right now, she has her sights set on Queen's University which is recognized as one of the best schools for rugby in Ontario.
However, Kilgour has to face the challenges in front of her right now and is learning how to balance rugby, school and her social life all at once.
“It is difficult. I also train with Canadian Rugby Sevens academy in Scarborough and that training takes up a lot of my time. I go everyday which can make finding time for homework a real challenge,” she explains.
“I like to say I focus on school first, but some days I choose rugby over studying for that test.”
Kilgour says she has mastered studying and sleeping in the car in between her training sessions.
She is thankful to have an incredible support system that allows her to continue to chase her Olympic aspirations.
“I jokingly say Dad is my manager. I couldn’t do it without him. He sets up my calendar, sets up opportunities for me, he score-keeps my games and keeps track of my fitness testing as well as drives me everywhere. He is my No. 1 supporter,” Kilgour said.
She said she looks forward to the day her dad can cheer her on in the Olympics.