Kally King has lofty goals.

“Mostly, I want to save the planet, obviously,” King, who is studying natural resource conservation at UBC, said with a laugh.

Perhaps big dreams are part of the reason the speed demon from Kamloops is setting a pace that may allow her to reach the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

King, a rookie starter on the wing last season for the UBC Thunderbirds, was named to Canada’s roster for the Tri-Nations Cup, which will run from July 20 to July 28 at Loughborough University in Leicestershire, England.

The tournament, which will feature under-20 teams from Canada, England and the U.S., doubles as a talent ID camp for the 2021 World Cup.

“I was honoured to be one of 25 people in the country to be picked,” said King, who turns 19 on July 14.

“I’m very honoured to be chosen.”

King began playing rugby in Grade 8 at Brock Middle School. She made the switch to NorKam secondary in Grade 9 and was noticed quickly by head coach Sue Kabotoff.

“Coach threw me in and then she was like, ‘Oh, you’re fast,” King said.

Canada’s bronze-medal victory in women’s rugby sevens at the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio spawned unprecedented popularity for the sport across the nation.

“It’s kind of mind-blowing how much it’s increased,” King said.

The senior women’s sevens team’s success inspired King, whose impressive performances for NorKam and Thompson Okanagan Rugby Alliance put her on the national-team radar.

The 2018 NorKam secondary graduate donned the Maple Leaf for the first time last year at the U18 Rugby Americas North Sevens Championship in Las Vegas.

King scored two tries in the final to help Canada knock off the U.S. 33-5 and qualify for the Youth Olympic Games, which were held in October in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

A collar bone injury derailed King’s path to South America.

“I’ve always wanted to play for Canada,” King said. “It’s been my dream and it’s been kind of rough. I got cut from that team. I really wanted to make that team. That kind of pushed me.”

King was invited to try out for the Tri-Nations Cup roster in Victoria in May, along with about 40 of the top U20 players in the country.

She was in the car with her mom when an email from Rugby Canada confirmed her spot on the roster.

“I looked at my mom and she’s like, ‘What happened?’” King said. “I was like, ‘I made the team,’ but we couldn’t tell anyone right away.

“I wanted to tell everyone, like, look at me — I did it. But nobody could know.”

Canada is slated to play the U.S. at 8 a.m. on July 24 and England at 8 a.m. on July 28, with matches expected to be streamed live online.

“The U20 age group is a pivotal stepping stone for our national identified athletes, which you can see with the number of graduates currently in the senior women’s squad,” Canadian women’s under-20 coach Jack Hanratty said.

Rugby Canada will announce streaming details when available.

“I’m excited to pull on the Canada jersey,” King said.


Marty Hastings

/ Kamloops This Week

July 2, 2019 04:00 PM

KTW File Photo