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LIVING THE DREAM: Jessie Bryan heading to Acadia to forge her own path to teaching physical education

Avon View High School graduate Jessie Bryan is headed to Acadia University this fall to study kinesiology and play for the school's rugby team. During the summer months, she played for the Under-20 Nova Scotia Keltics and the Hants County RFC's women's team.
Avon View High School graduate Jessie Bryan is headed to Acadia University this fall to study kinesiology and play for the school's rugby team. During the summer months, she played for the Under-20 Nova Scotia Keltics and the Hants County RFC's women's team.

FALMOUTH, N.S. — Jessie Bryan has known since she was a little girl that she wanted to be a phys ed teacher.

Now, she's on the verge of making that happen.

The multi-sport athlete, best known for her rugby prowess, is heading to Acadia University this fall to take kinesiology. While there, she'll be joining the ranks of the Acadia Axewomen's rugby team.

“I want to be a phys ed teacher, following my dad's footsteps,” said Bryan.

“I've actually wanted to be one since I was a little kid. I want to work with the younger kids.”

Bryan is spending her summer as Windsor Recreation's summer program co-ordinator, where she helps oversee programs with upwards of 30 to 40 children. When she's not working, there's a good chance she's training or playing rugby with two different teams.

“She's really good with kids. She likes being active and wants to coach and be involved in team sports when she does become a teacher,” said her father, Jim Bryan, who is the athletics director at Avon View High School.

Eighteen-year-old Jessie Bryan is quickly making a name for herself within Nova Scotia's rugby community.

 

Father-daughter team

Jim Bryan coached his daughter throughout her high school rugby career and said he couldn't be more proud of what Jessie Bryan has accomplished to date.

“I really can't put it into words. You always hope that your kids will be good at something you like or find a passion that they love. She not only likes things that I like, she's also really good at those things. I'm super proud of her,” said Jim Bryan.

He said coaching her was both challenging and rewarding – and will always be a memory he'll cherish.

“Coaching your own kid is a difficult thing to do and hard to do well. People either think you're being too hard on them or that you favour them. It's a delicate line to walk,” he said.

But Bryan and her dad made it work.

“It was actually awesome to be able to share that time with my daughter,” he said.

Jessie Bryan accepts the Female Athlete of the Year Award from Jim Bryan, the athletics director, during Avon View High School's 2016-17 sports banquet.

“I know that once kids get a certain age, you stop seeing them a lot. You don't get to spend that time with them. If I didn't coach her, I probably wouldn't have seen her as much as I did. I really got to spend a lot of quality time with her.”

He sees some high school athletes more than their parents do, he added.

At times, she said, it was difficult to differentiate between her dad and her coach when on the rugby pitch, but winning three provincial rugby banners with him is something she'll never forget.

“It was special having him there all the time,” said Jessie Bryan.

Jim Bryan said it was easy to coach his daughter as she had a natural talent.

“She has a lot of things already that you just can't teach people. It's either there or not,” said Jim Bryan.

“When all those basic things are there, you can teach them to do anything. She was a multi-sport athlete, so she was good at everything,” he added.

Throughout high school, Jessie Bryan played rugby, soccer, basketball, and volleyball. She was also on the cross-country team and snowboarding team, and usually played badminton but couldn't due to the teachers' work to rule labour disruption this past year.

Jessie Bryan was co-captain of the Avon View Avalanche's senior girls' rugby team during her final year at school.

 

Excellent potential: coach

The 18-year-old Falmouth resident is a quick thinker on and off the rugby pitch – and built to run fast. She helped lead her high school team to their third provincial title, was involved with the Nova Scotia Keltics this summer when the U20 team won nationals, and is currently playing with the Hants County Rugby Football Club's Machine women, who are in first place heading into playoffs.

“Jessie is an excellent rugby player; she’s very positive on and off the field. She has excellent potential to go to the highest levels of rugby across the province as well as the country,” said Shawn Johnson, the head coach of the Machine women's team.

Johnson said Jessie Bryan is easy to coach and is a great addition to the team.

“As a coach, I really value players with open minds that are willing to learn and increase their skill sets on the field,” said Johnson. “That’s what makes me think that she’s a really good rugby player. She’s definitely proving that every day now.”

Johnson said he thinks she'll fit right into the Acadia squad, which she’ll begin training with during a training camp that starts on Aug. 24.

Jessie Bryan has been playing with the Hants County Rugby Football Club's Machine women's team for two summers now.

 

Eighteen-year-old Jessie Bryan spent the summer playing rugby for two teams and working as Windsor Recreation's summer program co-ordinator.

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