Campus Life

Horns' Patzer has unfinished business

The University of Lethbridge Pronghorns women's rugby team may be defending national champions but captain Ashley Patzer still has some unfinished business.

While the Horns were running their way to CIS glory last fall, Patzer was overseas with the Canadian national senior women's program. She could not enjoy the spoils of a program she helped build.

"I cried when I was in Scotland when I learned they won. It was a good cry though, I cried for them because it was so exciting," Patzer says of the mixed emotions she was feeling at the time.

"It was bittersweet because I got to play for the national team and it was my first Canadian national tour with the senior women. At the same time, I was leaving my Pronghorn girls behind, and it felt like something was missing there."

Ever the consummate teammate, she's carried that feeling with her this season as she helps build the Horns for another title run.

"She's definitely got nationals on her mind," Pronghorns head coach Neil Langevin says. "In some sense she feels she let the team down last year but she didn't. She feels she has something to prove, but we don't believe she does."
Patzer has already proven herself on many levels. Since coming to the University in the fall of 2005, the Lethbridge Collegiate Institute graduate has racked up numerous awards, including CIS rookie of the year in 2005 and CIS player of the year in 2006. Along the way she's been a multiple all-star and garnered recognition from the country's various national team programs, having played for the Canadian 7s, 15s and then senior women's teams.

Just 21, the fourth-year kinesiology major has quickly established herself as a staple of the senior women's program.
"She's already looked to as a veteran on the team and she's only been on the team a year," Langevin says. "I know the new coach really thinks highly of her, so much so he's trying to move her into the fly half position we have her in and that requires a lot more leadership."

Considering the diminutive speedster had to initially be dragged onto the pitch in her Grade 10 year (by her best friend), Patzer's acumen for the game is remarkable.

"Every level she's moved up she's been able to develop another skill set," Langevin says. "Even with us, her leadership skills have really improved over the last two to three years.

"Every time she's put in a new role she grows into it."

Now a world traveler thanks to the opportunities provided by rugby, she ironically stayed in University because of what the game offered.

"It's taken me a lot of places; I've travelled so much with it," Patzer says, having been on tours to the UK and Spain, among others. "I was going to take a year off (school) after my first year and try and travel a little bit but I'm really glad I stuck with it and I've been able to pound through school and then also be able to travel the world with rugby."

Fully carded by Athletics Canada, Patzer is at the top of the women's rugby ladder and yet she still has that one gaping hole in her resumé.

"I'm so excited about nationals," she says of the Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 tournament. "It was really frustrating last year not being able to play and to have a chance to win it here in Lethbridge — I can't wait."