While Christine Sinclair and Hayley Wickenheiser have emerged among the group of female sporting heroes inspiring a new generation of young women, there are many other remarkable women that have carved a unique legacy. One of the most relevant figures in Canadian female rugby is Barbara Mervin. With 21 caps for Canada, including the 2010 World Cup, Mervin has forged a solid international career. A captain of the select side and back row on the National Sevens Women’s Team, she has also competed with BC in national rugby tournaments.
Born in St. John’s, Newfoundland and raised in Peterborough, Ontario, Mervin currently calls Victoria, British Columbia home. At the university level, Mervin was part of the University of Western Ontario’s program, winning 2005 CIS National Player of the Year honors. The MVP award would complement her CIS Rookie of the Year Award and the two national titles she would contribute to the Mustangs. Having laid her hat throughout the unique regions of the country, she has experienced many great aspects of what it means to be a proud Canadian.
Known affectionately as Swevin Mervin, she is more than just an elite athlete, but a remarkable role model and ambassador for the growth of women in sport. Having been part of the National Rugby Team since 2004, her presence serves to make everyone around her better.
In addition to her veteran presence on the field, she also displays remarkable leadership off the field. Along with organizing fund raisers, she donates her time to summer camps, coaches the University of Victoria women’s rugby team and sandwiches in a solid five hours a day of training.
A real life Wonder Woman, Mervin is also a fashion designer and founder of her own line. Called Aptoella / Rugby, she wears many hats, including founder, designer and blogger. After a sabbatical in Hawaii during 2006 in Hawaii, a relocation to Victoria triggered her interest in a fashion line. A lack of selection was compounded by outfits that were not flattering. It would serve as the catalyst to enroll in the fashion design program at Pacific Design College.
By creating performance apparel, Mervin is incorporating her love of sport and design to create stylish rugby clothing that helps to instill a sense of pride and celebration in the sport. Her business ambitions make her a terrific role model for women looking to believe they can make their dreams come true.
Testament to her likability and status as a role model is the fact that her hometown club, the Peterborough Pagans still supports her. Currently part of the Velox Valkyries Rugby Club, the move to Victoria has made training partners and ideal rugby facilities ideal for sharpening her formidable skills.
While rugby is still a growing sport, it is starting to gain traction in Canada. Famed Winter Games gold medalist Heather Moyse is a renowned rugby player. Stevi Schnoor, a prominent rugby player in British Columbia won a champion with the BC Angels in the Legends Football League. Brittany Waters, a national team member with 14 caps appeared with Mervin in the Beauty of Sport Edition in Sportsnet Magazine.
Sport tends to be celebrated for its personalities and Mervin is one of many unique and special personalities that makes the game of rugby one which is worthy of a bigger spotlight. Helping to empower a generation of young women engage in sport, she is more than a world class athlete, but her commitment to dedication and integrity make her a world class person.