8 a.m., July 23)
gives special needs kids the chance to play rugby
By Mike Beasley
The Orleans Star
no stopping Lee Ann Napiorkowski when it comes to sharing
her enthusiasm and passion for rugby. “Nappy” as she is
fondly called around town is on a non-stop mission to
introduce and promote her sport of choice which originated
in England in the early 1800s.
special needs players take part in the Trust
Rugby International clinic held recently at
St. Peter High School. PHOTO COURTESY OF SAMANTHA
MACFARLANE/BOREALIS PHOTO STUDIO
the school year she works as the inclusion coordinator
at St. Peter High School on Charlemagne Blvd. Then each
spring, she can be found on the pitch behind the school
coaching the senior boy’s rugby team.
was back on familiar ground recently as the host of a
Trust Rugby International event. She worked together with
Jamie Armstrong to bring the founder of the Scottish-based
charity to Ottawa and lead a group of kids with mixed
abilities through a one-hour coaching clinic.
been trying to establish a program coordinating and coaching
unified or mixed rugby with the help of the sport’s national
and provincial governing bodies for a while,” said Napiorkowski.
“Bringing Jamie to Ottawa to lead a clinic is a great
way to promote our rugby program and help us with our
efforts to include special needs athletes.”
in 2010, Trust Rugby International’s goal is to bring
individuals and communities together through rugby. The
organization uses the non-contact version of the sport
to involve people with learning disabilities, which will
enable all players to participate to their full potential.
(TRI) have a partnership with World Rugby which is called
the ‘Spirit of Rugby’,” Campbell explained through a thick
Scottish accent. “Our goal is to help other countries
take on what we call 'unified rugby', or in Canada is
named “mixed ability”. We encourage disabled and non-disabled
athletes playing together.”
athletes in Napiorkowski’s group range from 10 to 50 years
of age. Her goal is to get her gang together once a month
with gradual growth leading to games against similar teams
from the area.
of the athletes in ths group is Jacob Demers-Barrett who
sported a huge smile during the entire 60 minute session.
Even an unexpected tumble to the ground didn’t dampen
is a lot of fun, I really enjoy it,” Demers-Barrett said
while his team enjoyed a brief time-out. “I like to run
around and play with my teammates. I’ve made lots of friends.”
an example of his love for the sport, Demers-Barrett was
selected to be Canada’s flagbearer during an inter-national
ruby contest at Twin Elm Rugby Park in mid-June featuring
the national men’s team against Russia.
mom, Chantal Demers, can’t say enough about the special
needs program and Napiorkowski’s continued efforts to
have her son involved in sports.
am very grateful to Lee Ann, this is an amazing program,”
said Demers. “This is a very meaningful activity that
my son looks forward to. It has helped his physical and
social skills. Lee Anne is doing a wonderful job.”
more information about Trust Rugby International visit
their website at www.trustrugby.org.
and coaches gather together for a group photo
following the Trust Rugby International clinic
for special needs kids held at St. Peter High
School on July 13. PHOTO COURTESY OF SAMANTHA
MACFARLANE/BOREALIS PHOTO STUDIO
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