Julia Greenshields racks up lots of air miles playing rugby.
Her passport has taken her all across the U.S. as well as England, Barbados, The Netherlands, Dubai, Poland and Cayman Islands, among others.
“We don’t get a whole lot of time to look around, but it’s a pretty good perk having tournaments all around the world,” she said.
Greenshields is now training her sights on Brazil, host to the 2016 Summer Olympics.
The 22-year-old Sarnia native and Rugby Canada member is determined to secure a roster spot on the Canadian “Sevens” team heading to Rio Di Janiero.
The Canadian women took silver at the World Cup in Moscow and are regarded as a serious podium contender at the next Olympics.
“I think my chances are pretty good,” Greenshields said from Victoria, B.C. “I still have a lot to learn and I’m hoping these injuries stop happening. But I definitely have a chance for Rio in 2016.”
Injuries are a setback. After recovering from serious leg stress fractures Greenshields suffered a pair of concussions that forced her to miss recent training and tournaments in Atlanta, San Diego and Las Vegas.
“I’m getting ready to play again, but unfortunately I missed out on some pretty cool experiences,” she said.
While attending St. Clair secondary school Greenshields joined the Sarnia Saints program and Ontario provincial team.
Her big break came playing for the Western University Mustangs, when she was carded as a full-time Rugby Canada player. She moved to Victoria in January of 2012 the youngest member of the Canadian team to train at the Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence.
Greenshields first represented Canada that same year as part of the senior women’s sevens development squad. Rugby Sevens is a fast-paced variant of traditional rugby with teams comprised of seven players.
During the North American and Caribbean Championship she was named “Player of the Tournament,” scoring three tries in the final match as Canada defeated Jamaica 38-0.
Her injuries prevented her from spending the full summer in Sarnia with her family last year.
“I’m really hoping I can get some time to go home this summer,” said Greenshields, who attended Queen Elizabeth II elementary school.
Now, more or less mended, the 5 foot 5 and 137-pound athlete is ready to fight for a spot on a Canadian squad heading to a tournament in China in early April.
“We have about 24 girls who are training and centralized here, and every tournament they take 12 to 14 players. Keeping in mind who is injured or able to play, we’re all fighting for a spot in the top 12,” Greenshields said.
“I’m trying to close the gap between me and the older, more experienced players. There’s a lot for me to learn but I’m in the right place with the right coaches and the right facilities.”
– George Mathewson