It’s safe to say that figure skating and Australian rules football are two sports that you would not normally associate with each other.
However, they are becoming more commonly tied together, with former ice skater Brooke Lochland running around for the Western Bulldogs in the AFLW, and now another skater to represent her country at next month’s AFL International Cup in Melbourne.
Like many overseas footballers, British Columbia-based Erin Regan, a figure skater for seventeen years, was introduced to Aussies rules through friends.
“My friend played for the Burnaby Eagles [men’s team], but then I found out there was a women’s team in Delta,” Regan said.
“Mike McFarlane, one of the coaches out there from the West Coast Wildcats… introduced me to the sport here in BC, and was thankful to know they ran a women’s team out here all this time.
“Then they started developing a new team in 2016, which is the Vancouver Vixens, to help grow BC Footy, and I jumped on board and now BC Footy has two women’s teams.
“Now in our second year, our Vancouver Vixens team culture is growing, and BC footy is growing, and the girls are really committed and going great.”
Playing regularly for the Vixens against the Wildcats and Seattle Grizzlies, the half-forward’s game continued to improve so much over the seasons, it was recommended she take the next step in her footy playing career.
“Marlena Ginoccio (Regan’s teammate), who has played for the Northern Lights before, had kind of suggested to me that ‘There’s opportunities for girls in Canada and you’ve got a good sports background and you should come and try out for the Northern Lights team’.
“Each year in June we have the Kelowna Cup, where Calgary, Alberta and Edmonton all play games together, and the Canadian coach (Jason Arnold) comes down and talks to the girls each year about what it would be like if you try out for Team Canada.
“Me and some [Vancouver Vixens] teammates just worked really hard throughout the summer and last September we went to Toronto and tried out for the team.
“It’s really exciting because I’ve been playing footy for four years now, but this is the most representation of BC women on both of the national teams.”
The selection of eight women from British Columbia into the Canadian representative squads shows women’s footy in that part of the world is developing nicely, and Regan says they’re all grateful to have the opportunity to play for their country.
“I’m very, very excited and honoured to be part of the Northern Lights team,” Regan said.
“I’ve been working really hard all year with my [national] teammates that are close by.
“We’ve been working hard on our running, our skills and lots of strength training.”
Regan also knows that the women playing for the Northern Lights will not accept second-best when it comes to preparation, and representing Canada, even more so as the reigning champions heading into August’s International Cup.
“As a rookie, it was very easy to spot the tenacity, commitment and passion on our team, so we’ll be defending our title this year and for that reason there’s been no easy breathing for us.
“We’re the hunted, we’re ready to fight and ready to defend that title.”