Burlington Centaurs Club Contours with Emily Gastaldini
Monthly there will be a profile of a Burlington Centaur player who has represented the club in the spirit of the sport of rugby. As well, that their efforts have made the club greater as a whole. It is important to recognize these players and members for their dedication to the Burlington Centaurs and the rugby community at large. It is my hope to shine the spotlight where perhaps the light had not shone so bright before on those who are well deserving of illumination.
Throughout history we have looked to athletes as the measure of one’s
community. Olympians in ancient Greece came from the furthest city states to
compete for laurels that would force the gods themselves to take notice. Little has
changed in present day. The world in inundated with sports news and features on
particular athletes of note endlessly. However, this novice writer would argue that
there is a greater spectacle: recognizing greatness in an athlete before the world at
large takes the hint.
In this case, our conversation highlights the exploits of a player just in the 3rd year
of their career; one Emily Gastaldini. Who, on June 22nd , scored a hat-trick for the
Burlington Centaurs women’s team against Stoney Creek.
“You can’t get flustered,” she says speaking on the key to overcoming a penalty
gone awry. “If you keep your composure the other team doesn’t know what’s going
on,” she continues and in these words, Ms. Gastaldini’s journey towards becoming a
rugby player begins to crystallize.
There is a world in which Emily Gastaldini did not play rugby. Indeed, it took a
series of dark days to push her towards a career in a completely different sport.
Originally being a soccer player, rugby had not been the goal at the outset, but after a
prickly run in it was time for a change. Many being denied playing the sport they love
would simply turn away, or let it define them; but in this case it was a catalyst that
would lead Emily on a completely new path to greatness.
It would be remiss not to point out that this new path led Gastaldini in the
direction of Centaur legends Kaitlyn Carrey and Bill Clayton who were coaching at
Notre Dame where she would cut her teeth on the sport of rugby. Six months later
Emily would walk onto the Guelph practice squad. Guelph having arguably the best
women’s university team in the country, Gastaldini would be rubbing shoulders with
and rising above players who had been training in the sport for years.
Easy victories are not enough for this young player. There needs to be resistance
to really shine. Challenges are the currency in which Gastaldini trades in, and her
favourite teams to play are the ones that offer just that. Even when asked about the
most difficult part of being a rugby player the ideal of meeting a challenge is ever
present. Having a successful season at winger, it is no surprise to hear that she has her
sights set on learning new positions, but no half-measures will suffice; if she moved
to full-back it would be to “dominate the field at full-back.”
Just three years into her rugby career Emily is aware of the hurdles before her,
but is also optimistic about the skills she has already garnered. Previous training in
soccer has helped in identifying space leaving the field more akin to a “blank canvas”
than an obstacle course. As well, with being new to the sport comes its own pitfall as
rugby at the provincial level is often unwelcoming to new players, particularly when
the right names and handshakes are withheld.
Once the auspicious necessities are taken care of, under armor affixed, wrists
taped; there is just one simple thing to do before hitting the field: “I tell myself, I am
going to score.” Simple words that lead to extraordinary feats on the pitch have all the
makings of a great story. To think, we are only three years into said story!
“You can’t get flustered,” she said, “but, if I need to, I will look to the crowd and
find a focal point and focus.” With the women’s team heading to play offs and the
rising stature of the Centaurs in the Canadian rugby community these are wise words
of advice. Coming from an individual who has a bright future in this sport speaks
highly of her individual character and the team she chooses to call home.