Dauphin, Canada

She only began playing rugby five years ago, but not many would know that based on how she's doing on the pitch... and that's Dauphin's, Monique Coffey.

Playing university rugby at Acadia University, the 20-year-old has now been named to the U20 Team Canada reserve roster.

"I'm really proud of where I've come, and how far I've come," said Coffey. "A few years ago I was just learning to play the game, and now I'm getting the chance to play with the top players in Canada, and potentially the world. It's pretty amazing, and it's a great feeling."

For most athletes, making your national team takes years, and years, and years of hard work, dedication and commitment... and when we talk about years, it's usually more than five, but that's exactly what Monique did.

As we go back to the beginning of high school, why did Monique end up choosing rugby?

"A lot of the older rugby players came to me in grade eight and they all told me to come play because they thought I'd be great," said Coffey. "I honestly had no idea what it was or any of the rules. But, I loved sports so I thought why not give it a try. I played football, so it was possible I could be good at rugby... and it turned out I was pretty decent."

Backtracking five years, Monique never really thought making the national reserve roster as a 20-year-old was a possibility.

"It definitely wasn't something that crossed my mind," said Coffey. "It was just a new sport that I wanted to pick up and see if I enjoyed it. It wasn't even until high school when I decided I wanted to pursue rugby at the post-secondary level."

"You can't expect things like this to happen," said Coffey. "But, It's awesome to know it did."

Just like every other athlete playing at an elite-level, Monique has done everything she possibly can to succeed on a daily basis, and don't expect that grind to stop anytime soon for the Dauphinite.

"I've put in a lot of work in the gym, and whenever I have some free time, I'm usually doing something related to rugby because I want to be the best player I can," said Coffey. 

Although she doesn't play rugby in Dauphin anymore, Monique knows the Clippers program was instrumental in the success she's having now as she jumps up the ranks.

"The coaches there was absolutely amazing," said Coffey. "They always pushed me to do my best. Especially, Jason Alf, he was my first coach there. I get the feeling that he knew I was going to be great, so he put everything he had into helping me improve. I'll never forget playing for the Clippers and getting the chance to represent the school on the pitch."

Right after high school, Monique committed to play at Acadia University with the Axewomen, and she talks about how her experience has been there so far, and how the hard work continues.

"Everyone here is so skilled, and you have to work so hard to get playing time," said Coffey. "You can't take a break, because the coaches are always watching, and if they know you're not giving it your all, you won't play. It's that simple."

"Our team, in general, has put in a lot of work the two years I've been here," said Coffey. "We've made the nationals both years I've been here, but we, unfortunately, didn't win. But, we're hosting nationals this year, and we're going to have a really good team. I believe we're in a place to medal and do really good. Everyone pushes each other. I love it so much here."

As she prepares for her third season of rugby at Acadia, Monique is playing on two different rugby club teams... and making the reserve roster for the national team is giving her a little extra confidence.

"Oh definitely it gives me some more confidence for sure," said Coffey. "Our team also has a couple other players on Team Canada, so they all have confidence as well."

"Making the reserve team just shows that I can help, and push harder," she added. "I want to show that I can be a leader, and I'm pretty excited about that."

When the Axewomen kick off their season with an exhibition game on August 28, there's going to be a nice Parkland connection on the team. Coffey will be joined by Dauphin's Kalee Dyck who is set to join the team after a very strong rugby career in the Parkland, and in Manitoba respectively. 

"I'm so excited to get to play with Kalee again," said Coffey. "We played with each other when we were both developing, so we both have a pretty good sense of how we play. I know Kalee has a lot to offer this team, so it's a really exciting thing, and I can't wait to play on the same field as her again."

Looking into the future, besides winning a National Championship with Acadia, Coffey also has another goal she'd like to achieve.

"I would love to represent Canada and play in the Olympic 7's rugby event," said Coffey. "That'd be amazing, and it's my goal... so I'm working towards it. I feel if I keep working as hard as I do, I have the potential to make it happen."

Coffey, Dyck and the rest of the Axewomen kick off their regular season on September 8 against UPEI. 

So yes, for now, it's Acadia full-time, but don't be surprised when you see Dauphin's Coffey suiting up for the national team on a full-time basis.

AUDIO: Monique Coffey - Part One.

AUDIO: Monique Coffey - Part Two.