By Dale Woodard
Alta Newspaper Group – Lethbridge
The familiarity factor of the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns women’s rugby team’s latest signing has been kicked up a notch.
As they continue to build toward the 2019 Canada West season, the Horns announced the addition of Dani Wright at the 1st Choice Savings Centre at the U of L.
The latest signing continues the Pronghorns’ theme of shopping local as Wright, a southern Alberta product from Taber, comes down the road to the U of L.
However, she’s not the first Wright to pull on a Horns jersey, as she joins her older sister, Genna, who just completed her second season with the Pronghorns.
What’s better, the older sibling isn’t the only person Wright is aware of.
“I played with a lot of the new recruits with the Prairie Wolfpack over the summers and I’m really excited to be able to play with them on such a great team with a great coach,” said the multi-faceted athlete who also boasts an impressive high school basketball resume. “I know Neil (Langevin, Pronghorns head coach) and played for him a little bit.”
It made Wright’s decision to stick to her southern Alberta roots that much easier.
“I think it played a big factor,” she said. “It will be great to play with my sister. It’s close to home and it’s comforting to play with girls that I have played with before. I know their style.”
As a member of the Taber W.R. Myers Rebels high school team, Wright, a forward, has been part of two Tier III provincial titles in 2017 and 2018. With the Rebels she played 8, flank and lock and was named the Most Outstanding Forward in 2018.
She was also on the honour roll throughout high school and is planning to pursue a degree in Music and Education.
“We got to see Dani play junior rugby,” said Langevin. “She’s done all the right programs and has been in our Academy previously and has played her way up through high school and been very successful. Then I continued to watch her play on the provincial teams and she featured well in the 15’s and the sevens. She’s a true competitor and has that competitive spirit and athletic ability that is really unique to combine. We’ve seen lots of great athletes and Dani combines both athleticism and that determination.”
“Sometimes when you watch, people don’t really notice all the good things she’s doing because she does all of the hard work. But she’s physically strong and physically talented with the run, pass and catch. But I think the attributes about her that we really wanted on our team is that determination. She’s a true competitor and it’s going to be wonderful to see how she fits in with this group next year early as a rookie. Long-term, I think she is going to be a leader on this team.”
Wright is the seventh member of the Prairie Wolfpack provincial team to commit to the Pronghorns for the upcoming season. She has played at both the U16 and U18 levels for the provincial team.
Like her coach said, she’s coming to play, and play hard.
“I think I’m a pretty strong runner, I can take the ball into contact and I’m good at providing support for other players,” said Wright. “I have to play fast, but play smart. My favourite saying is ‘Work smart, not hard’. It’s important to always use your energy in the best ways.”
Fittingly, Wright’s older sibling was present at Thursday’s signing.
“I’m so excited,” said Genna. “She has lots of talent and I’m excited to have her join the team. Not many people get the chance to play with their sister, so it’s going to be a huge opportunity.”
“She’s definitely one of the most consistent players that I know. She’s always there and always working hard. I’m proud of her for all of the development that she has had and for the player she is going to become. I’m really glad to see that and I’m glad to be a part of that.”
That gives Langevin two Wrights in his lineup.
“They’re similar in that they’re both very competitive young women, that kind of resilience,” said Langevin. “Their styles are different. Genna has a little more breakaway speed, but there is no doubt Dani has enough speed to really contribute and feature really well at the university level in the position she will be playing. But both of them have that resiliency and that determination that is impossible to coach. It’s unique and rare to recruit.”
The Pronghorns recruiting class for the coming season sits at eight new recruits. Wright joins Mackenzie Hamm, Tess Domes, Sawyer Sprague, Janelle Agot, Jada Holtkamp, Brooklyn Perry and Gabrielle Sever, who were announced earlier this year.