Trinity Western University announced Aldergove’s Ava Van Santen would be signed as a rugby player on April 21, making her the first Spartans recruit of the incoming class of 2022. (TWU)

Trinity Western University announced Aldergove’s Ava Van Santen would be signed as a rugby player on April 21, making her the first Spartans recruit of the incoming class of 2022. (TWU)

VIDEO: A switch from soccer to rugby lands Aldergrove athlete at Langley’s Trinity Western University

Ava Van Santen was described as ‘one of the toughest recruits’ to sign with TWU

Ava Van Santen was always going to be a soccer player.

“Soccer was always my thing,” the 17-year-old Aldergrove student told the Langley Advance Times.

After 15 years of playing, the standout D.W. Poppy player was preparing to make the move to the university version of the game.

“Soccer was always my thing,’ said Aldergrove’s Ava Van Santen, seen here as an Aldergrove U11 Girls forward, playing in the rain against Langley United in 2015. (Art Bandenieks file)

“Soccer was always my thing,’ said Aldergrove’s Ava Van Santen, seen here as an Aldergrove U11 Girls forward, playing in the rain against Langley United in 2015. (Art Bandenieks file)

At least, that was the plan, until she tried rugby in Grade 10 at the suggestion of her coach.

“I’m like, ‘I’m a soccer player,” Van Santen recalled thinking, but she gave it a try.

She took to it right away, her proud dad Cory recalled.

“They handed her the ball and no one could catch her,” Cory told the Langley Advance Times.

“She had a gift for speed.”

Ava liked the fast pace, and the physicality, of rugby.

“It’s a really fun sport,” she commented.

As a result, she had more options when it came time to decide where she would play university-level sports,but she was still leaning toward soccer.

She posted an online video to show off her soccer skills to prospective coaches, where she talked about wanting to play the game at the university level.

There were soccer offers, from several universities, but she ended up going with the rugby program at Langley’s Trinity Western University.

Her signing was announced April 21, making her the first Spartans recruit of the incoming class of 2022, set to join TWU in the fall.

“I chose Trinity Western University because it is the perfect place for me to grow academically, athletically and spiritually,” Ava said.

“I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to continue playing rugby as a Spartan.”

TWU Director of Rugby Andy Evans said “Ava is one of the toughest recruits we have signed at TWU, and we are delighted she is joining us.”

“Ava has burst onto the rugby scene at D.W. Poppy as a dynamic try scorer and devastating defender,” Evans elaborated.

“Each week, Ava is getting more experience from a very high-quality rugby program at Poppy and will be very well prepared for competing in Canada West as a Spartan in 2022/2023 and onward.”

READ ALSO: New leader starts rebuilding rugby program at private Langley university

Evans helped relaunch the Spartans men’s and women’s rugby programs in 2019.

The Spartans women’s program competes in the Canada West Rugby sevens series, while the men’s program operates as an independent team, competing in both 15s and 7s.

READ ALSO: Earl Marriott coach to help Langley’s Trinity Western launch rugby program

Previously, the TWU rugby men’s program ran from 1988 to 2004 and competed as a varsity program from 1996 until 2004.

There was a women’s rugby club program from 1997 to 2000 and from 2003 to 2005.


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