ANTIGONISH — Katie Pentz says she recognizes what a historic event occurred last weekend at St.Francis Xavier University.
Pentz, who is from Trenton, plays women’s rugby in the lock position in the second row of the scrum for the St. FX X-Women, who defeated the visiting Acadia Axewomen 58-17.
She scored a try during the game.
The game on Oct. 5 set a precedent by replacing men’s football as the game played on Saturday afternoons during St. FX’s Homecoming weekend.
The change recognized the 50th anniversary of women’s sports at St. FX.
The X-Men played their football game on October 4 against Bishop’s University.
“We were all excited, but it was not until later that we realized what a big deal it was,” Pentz said.
She said hearing former St. FX women’s soccer and volleyball coach Peggy Gallant’s address further underlined the game’s significance.
Gallant, a staunch supporter of women’s sports at St. FX, guided the team to an Atlantic university championship in 1986 when the school did not recognize it as a varsity team.
“The morning of the game, there was a breakfast and she was one of the speakers there,” Pentz said. ”She talked about women in sports at St. FX and advocating for them. She wasn’t giving herself enough credit, but other speakers did.”
Gallant said she was surprised and happy with how well the change was accepted on campus.
“What struck me was the co-operation,” she said. “We had a defending AUS football champion head coach Gary Waterman agreeing and staff and coaches offering support for (rugby head coach Mike Cavanaugh. Traditions are great, but honouring women’s sport in this way this year was important.”
The X-Women completed the regular season undefeated by following their win over Acadia with a 49-0 victory on Wednesday over the host Saint Mary’s Huskies.
They will await the outcome of the semifinal contest before hosting the championship game on October 26.
A win will allow the X-Women to pursue their seventh Canadian championship in 14 years in November in Ottawa. They won last year when Acadia was the host in Wolfville.
“I definitely think our team has a good bunch of girls to get there,” Pentz said, regarding the X-Men’s prospects for a national title.
The bye to the Atlantic championship allowed the X-Women to travel to New York for two exhibition games against the New York Village Lions and the U.S. Army women’s team at West Point.
Katie Pentz stands between Keeley MacCuish, left, and Mackenzie Bell with the CIS women’s rugby championship trophy. (File photo)