ELISSA ALARIE “Doubt your Fears, Not your Dreams”

     The decision had been made. After playing U19 Canada and 6 years of senior Quebec rugby, it was time to give my rugby career another shot. I decided to quit my salary paying accounting job, sublet my apartment, pack all my things, say goodbye to family and friends and jump in my car for a 5000km road trip across Canada. I’m not sure exactly what I was thinking in that moment other than “If I don’t try this now, I’ll never know.”

     After surviving the long hours on “Onterrible” roads, horseback riding in the Prairies and a grizzly bear encounter in Banff, I reached my destination. Any Quebecer who wants to separate from Canada has definitely not seen what beautiful sights our country has to offer.

     I did manage to line up a job interview in my first week, so my crazy adventure had few side effects. My goal after all wasn’t to become a hipster on the west coast but rather to develop my rugby skills to ultimately be a better player. I registered with Velox Valkyries to play club and spoke to the Canada 7’s coaches to see if I could participate in a few training sessions. They accepted as long as my skills were up to par and I wouldn’t slow the group down.

Elyssa Alarie APTOELLA rugby

    Luckily, my job at the Canadian Sport Institute was flexible which made it possible for me to attend every skill session. I was then allowed to participate in conditioning sessions and remember some of the girls saying: “you’re choosing to run these 300s with us?”

     About a month later, I was invited to my first senior Canada camp, in order for the team to prepare for Dubai 7s. Here I was training with a group of 24 athletes when I hadn’t even been invited to the previous summer camp where 50 athletes from across Canada had been seen. Next thing I know, I’m sitting in business class on my way to Dubai 7’s representing Canada’s development side, the Maple Leafs. Dubai? Wow! I couldn’t believe it. To top it all off, we won Dubai 7’s Invitational category and throughout the tournament I proved I could be part of the program.

Elyssa Alarie APTOELLA rugby
I have to admit the whole journey was quite stressful. During my first training session I remember thinking “I thought I knew how to pass” after realizing how difficult it was to master a 10-12 meter pass. I had to continuously convince myself I was good enough to be there even though I was the only one who had never truly been invited or offered a salary. I chose not to go home that Christmas, a first for me, in order to focus on putting in extra hours in the weight room. A decision I don’t regret as I then got invited to centralize for the next 6 months.


     Giving myself the opportunity to consistently train with the best players in Canada brought my game to the next level. After a year of training and my first 7s cap in Guangzhou, I received my first 15s cap at Nations Cup in Colorado. I went on to win a silver medal at the France World Cup in 2014 and today I am currently fighting for a chance to represent Canada at the Rio Olympic. Sometimes I wonder what I’d be doing if I had never left my hometown in September 2012. I feel so privileged to be part of this program and to play rugby every day.

Elyssa Alarie APTOELLA rugby 2

     Remember to always doubt your fears, not your dream. “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go” -T.S. Eliot

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Photos by Krystal Calver of Calver Photography

Elissa is wearing:

Black Mamba RaceHER tank

Black Mamba FastHER rugby shorts

Wicked White HoldHER hairband