When King's-Edgehill School's primary senior girls' fly-half takes the field, her demeanour lets opposing players know she means business.
Amy Marchand-Dion, who hails from Sherbrooke, Quebec, has been attending the private school in Windsor for the past three years.
Now in Grade 12, Marchand-Dion has committed to play for the University of Ottawa. The 18-year-old said it was an easy decision to make.
“All in all, I love Ottawa,” said Marchand-Dion in an interview following a game at the school.
She attended an Under-18 Canada tryout camp that the university was hosting and met Gee-Gees' head coach Jen Boyd. Marchand-Dion said she felt an instant connection.
“I was really impressed with her. I really love the school, and I love the sport and the program and what they do,” said Marchand-Dion.
That admiration was mutual, as Boyd noticed Marchand-Dion's talent and kept an eye on her development as a player.
“Instantly, I just really liked her demeanour. She just seemed overly mature compared to other kids her age,” said Boyd in a phone interview.
“I saw her play. Physically, I just liked how she carried herself. She had great feet... and had really good vision and was really a heads-up player and I think a lot of that came from the perceived calm that she has about her. Her energy on and off the field is just really calm and she's very confident so that's why I was drawn to her.”
While attending university, Marchand-Dion said she'll be studying nutrition.
“I'm interested in that field. I want to study something that interests me. And if five years from now I want to study something else, then that'll be it,” said Marchand-Dion.
Marchand-Dion is a multi-talented athlete. She plays soccer, volleyball, basketball and rugby — and according to Rory Campbell, the KES senior girls' rugby coach, she excels at everything.
“She's really an exceptional athlete. We have some exceptional kids in the province and in this region but Amy is a pretty special kid,” he said, noting Marchand-Dion easily could have had her pick of varsity sports options.
“She's humble too. She's not really one for the spotlight. It's an endearing quality of hers."
Marchand-Dion said what she likes best about rugby is how physical it is.
“I like that we're able to run with the ball, we're able to pass, we're able to kick, we're able to use any part of our body to play,” she said.
The team composition is also appealing to Marchand-Dion.
“Honestly, it's not only the sport itself, it's the team. It's such a sport where everybody has to hold each other accountable and you have to trust the person beside you,” she said.
“Rugby is a great sport and everybody should try it.”
At KES, Marchand-Dion is a fly-half, which Campbell said isn't her natural position, but having her in that role benefits the team the most.
“She's more of the distributor on the team. She might not score a lot of the tries but if you know rugby, you see that she's the one setting up a lot of people. She kind of takes control of our attack and our defence,” said Campbell.
When she lands in Ottawa this fall, she'll likely be playing in the backs, Boyd said.
“I'm hoping for a position in the back — wherever I'm the most useful for their team,” said Marchand-Dion.
Boyd said she can see Marchand-Dion playing as fly-half in her third or fourth year with the team.
“For the first couple of years, she'll play some fly-half but I see her playing a role in our outside backs – potentially on the wing or outside centre. We have some gaps there,” said Boyd.
Campbell said Marchand-Dion brings a lot of positives to the table.
“She is super dynamic and very athletic. She sees the field very well,” said Campbell.
“Even when she was in Grade 10, she was arguably one of the best players in the province. Now she's finding her way as a leader, too.”
Campbell said Marchand-Dion's personality makes her well-suited for leadership opportunities.
“She's very poised and mature. She's almost like another coach on the field, really. It makes it easier for me, trust me,” he said, smiling.
“I think the thing that will set her apart is that she's determined to get better. She trained really hard in the offseason. She was in the gym three or four mornings a week, does speed training. Some are content to be good. I think she really wants to be on another level, which is kind of neat.”
When asked about being a role model for the younger students, Marchand-Dion smiled and said it feels nice.
“Sometimes, it's a challenge because you do have to watch yourself and watch your temper. I've worked a lot on that,” said the soft-spoken Marchand-Dion. “I'm proud having people look up to me and some people even tell me. It feels really nice.”
As for players coming up through the system, Marchand-Dion advises them to “trust your gut.”
Marchand-Dion won't be alone when she joins the Gee-Gees team. Marchand-Dion's teammates Kenzie Cecchetto and Morgan Rogers have also committed to play in Ottawa this fall. They will be joining 2016 teammate Alex Ondo, who Boyd said was a “surprise find” and that she's been “really blown away with her work ethic and her fearlessness.”
Boyd, who hails from New Brunswick, said she's recruited about six Nova Scotians to play for the Gee-Gees this coming season, three of which are from KES.