Hailing from rural Lindsay, Ont., Alex Garbutt joined the University of Waterloo’s varsity women’s rugby team in her first year of university and is now one of the team’s co-captains.
Garbutt, a kinesiology co-op student, decided to stay at UW for an additional year to continue playing on the women’s rugby team after it was cancelled due to the pandemic. She will be entering her 5A term this fall.
“My whole life revolved around sports,” Garbutt said. Both of Garbutt’s parents were involved in sports, which influenced her enrollment in athletics at an early age.
Growing up, Garbutt did figure skating, dance and gymnastics until age five before switching to competitive softball and competitive hockey. She played competitive hockey for the Lindsay Lynx for 11 years and competitive hockey out of Port Perry, Ont. from Grade 8 to Grade 12. She was also a part of her high school’s track team and advanced to the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association (OFSAA) championships for three out of four of her high school years for javelin.
Garbutt’s journey in rugby began in Grade 11.
“Coming to UW and choosing rugby was a big choice for me,” Garbutt explained. She nearly decided to pursue varsity hockey instead, but ended up continuing with rugby. “I don’t regret it. I personally have grown as a rugby player, as a leader and as a person,” she said.
Over the course of the pandemic, Garbutt spent time training on her own. “I’ve gotten in the best shape of my life over the pandemic. I kind of took it as, ‘I’ve got to do this for myself,’ and ‘I’ve got to stay in shape so that when I can play rugby, I’m in the top shape that I can be in’,” she said. During the pandemic but before the lockdown, Garbutt was able to train with the team at an outdoor location.
Before the pandemic, a typical day for Garbutt would entail a gym session in the morning, attending her classes on campus until around 3:30 p.m., going to rugby practices for approximately two hours and then heading home to study. “On the weekends, the rugby team likes to have socials. We always hang out after games,” she said.
Being a student athlete led Garbutt to utilize routine. “When it was a normal season, and I was waking up and working out, and I was doing well in school, it just really shaped me and made me a much more organized person. I think it gives me a lot of discipline, which is really nice to have,” Garbutt explained.
In addition to her leadership on the rugby team, Garbutt founded an outdoor fitness class business called Endgame Performance. The program is running this summer and currently has around 30 participants, which she hopes will grow to 50 by the end of the summer.
Garbutt took part in training four youth sports teams that are a part of her local soccer association in Lindsay. She said she hopes to help increase the number and variety of sports teams in her community.
“I didn’t see a lot of other girls my age in the gym and I really want to bring it home and one day, have my own gym here and train all these athletes,” Garbutt said. She noted that many young athletes may not continue on to varsity level sports in university, but can still use fitness as an outlet and continue exercise to stay healthy.