Kristy Gallagher driving through mid-court during a UVic Vikes game. (Courtesy of UVic Vikes)

Peninsula the launching pad for explosion of women’s sporting talent

Steady stream of female athletes have come out of Saanich Peninsula last few years

The communities that dot the Saanich Peninsula might have smaller populations than Victoria or Vancouver, but they punch above their weight when it comes to producing young female athletes.

Spearheading this explosion of talent is Katie Kraeutner, who turned pro in Iceland and is now looking to play in one of the big European soccer leagues.

ALSO READ: North Saanich soccer sensation takes game to next level in Iceland

Other Sidney and North Saanich athletes include track and field stars Kim Neville-Rutherford, provincial race walking champ Jacqueline Gaby and distance runner Chloe Hegland (who also holds a Guinness world record).

In rowing, Keira Flanagan, Sheena Polman and Charlotte Junker are all varsity-calibre athletes, with fistfuls of achievements to their names.

Basketballers Kate Service and Kristy Gallagher are two more talented athletes playing at an elite level.

22-year-old Gallagher has experienced a meteoric rise to the UVic Vikes team, where she leads point and assist averages, scoring 20 a game.

“When I was in Grade 10, my grandmother bribed me with LuluLemon yoga pants to try out for the basketball team,” Gallagher says with a laugh. “She was from Courtenay and had won Provincials. She encouraged me to train and I fell in love with it.”

Community coach Larry Green, who Gallagher says is like a second dad, describes meeting her as a Parkland student.

ALSO READ: Former elite players launch Sports Excellence Basketball at Parkland school

“She had never played basketball and didn’t have much of a background in sports,” he says. “But she demonstrated an amazing level of commitment.”

Green says that during his 30 years coaching, Gallagher is probably the most committed athlete he’s worked with. At Gallagher’s request, they spent hours in the gym honing her basketball skills.

“Putting in the work and doing the little things well, add up to big things in the long run,” says Gallagher, whose approach has won her many honours, such as USports Academic all-Canadian, Canada West Second Team All Star, Varsity Highlight Award and a finalist for the Chancellors Award for leadership.

Hard work is certainly a theme that runs through all the athletes’ stories. One of Kraeutner’s past teachers recalls walking past the gym late at night and looking in to see her patiently practising on her own.

Women’s sports have traditionally been less lucrative than men’s and the effects are often felt lower down the ladder, with recent reports of different sports clubs giving men priority and the Vancouver Island Seals hockey team struggling to buy ice time for their midget AAA women’s team.

ALSO READ: Sidney hockey players back on home ice with the Vancouver Island Seals

Gallagher burst onto the Vikes scene, but has been injured for much of the past year. She says the injury has given her pause to think if she wants to turn pro. Staying in Greater Victoria to help the next generation is a strong possibility.

“I’d like to run a program for girls. Girls aren’t expected to have the same physical literacy as boys, like in middle school, and I’d like to show sport can help girls’ confidence.”

Asked what inspires her, Gallagher smiles and says, “I work in the rec centre and the students from my job come and watch me, also people from Sidney. I love it when Parkland girls come and they’re there wearing their Parkland clothes.”



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Recent arrests skim surface of Victoria’s human trafficking problem

Port city makes desirable place for traffickers flying under the radar

Victoria Canadian Forces member honored with exceptional Rotary Club award

Capt. Jacqueline Zweng is the Western Canada Ambassador of Wounded Warriors Canada

Oak Bay athletes rule the slopes at Island ski and snowboard series

Oak Bay boys take top ski, snowboard honours

Two-vehicle crash in Langford sends one to hospital Monday morning

Driver sent to hospital with unspecified injuries

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

Canucks acquire forward Tyler Toffoli from Kings in push for playoffs

Vancouver sends Schaller, Madden, pick to L.A.

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

Amtrak warns of delays as railways from Seattle to B.C. blocked by Wet’suwet’en supporters

Coastal GasLink said it’s signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along pipeline route

Federal emergency group meets on pipeline protests as rail blockades continue

There’s mounting political pressure for Trudeau to put an end to the blockades

Most Read