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Alyssa Wiebe Adds Gridiron Heroics to Hockey Legacy

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Among the great legacies of the women who grace the gridiron in the Western Women’s Canadian Football League is the fact that there is no shortage of two-sport stars. As the Saskatoon Valkyries, the WWCFL’s signature franchise, look towards capturing their fifth league title, a star rookie adds an exciting new dimension to their offensive attack.

Raised in Saskatoon, Wiebe has proven to be a perfect fit for the Valkyries, gaining a starting role as wide receiver. Having always brought a desire to learn and strong teamwork skills to the rink, it has made Wiebe an ideal member of the Valkyries’ roster. As the season progresses, Wiebe definitely emerges as a competitor for the Rookie of the Year Award, which would complement her achievement as North Dakota’s Rookie of the Year in 2008-09, as the Valkyries started its first half of the season undefeated.

Although her arrival at the Valkyries training camp in February 2016 actually signified her first experience in football, her athletic ability shone through. Making her debut for the Valkyries in an exhibition game against the defending Western Conference champion Edmonton Storm, Wiebe scored a touchdown in a 30-17 victory.

Despite understandably having jitters before her WWCFL debut, Wiebe’s hockey experience enabled her to play the game with the grace of a veteran. Acknowledging that it was a much different element, the nervous energy and astute effort to understand the game have translated into a perfect athletic transition. As so much preparation is required for one football game, practices are akin to studying for a final exam, with the playbook similar to a textbook, with a gridiron win a pass, while a loss signifies a fail.

“I do not think I have ever been more nervous for a sporting event in my life. I have played hockey for so many years that the nerves would slowly die off and I knew what I had to do each game to be successful.

Preparing for my first football game was something I have never experienced before. We played the Edmonton Storm who made it to the championship last year. I studied our playbook, I knew my routes, I knew the play calls, but all that aside, I did not know what to expect or how it would go once I hit the field.

Practices are the best place to learn and make your mistakes, but game days are your time to showcase what you’ve learned/can do and that brings a sense of excitement and urgency to the field!

The first game was a lot of fun. I caught my first touchdown and made some good catches for the team. Although we won the game, I was able to take away a lot of learning opportunities.”

A significant aspect of Wiebe’s sporting acumen can be attributed to her astounding hockey legacy. Among the proud achievements in her home province, she would set the single season scoring record with the prestigious Notre Dame Hounds of Athol Murray College (based in Wilcox). She would register an astounding 114 points on the strength of 70 goals in 2007-08, capturing her second straight scoring title. Adding to such an astonishing feat was the fact that she helped Notre Dame to a Western Canadian midget AAA championship.

Wiebe would also don the colors of Team Saskatchewan, playing at the 2005 Canadian Under-18 nationals. Of note, she would play alongside future CWHL competitor Tegan Schroeder, Kylie Rossler (who would play indoor football in Regina following her NCAA career) and Mandi Schwartz, whose brave fight with leukemia made national news. Currently, ECAC hockey has an award named in her honor.

Said legacy also saw her compete in the first-ever game in the history of Canada’s U18 program. Contested at the University of Ottawa against the United States on August 23, 2007, Wiebe and Bailey Bram (recognized as Canada’s Player of the Game) logged an assist on the game’s second goal, scored by Breann Frykas.  

Of note, Wiebe would also log an assist in the third game on a power play goal scored by Brittany Haverstock. The rosters for both teams would prove to be a who’s who of hockey. Among Wiebe’s teammates on the Canadian contingent included Clarkson Cup champions Delayne Brian, Tara Watchorn, Carolyne Prevost, NWHL All-Star Kaleigh Fratkin, and Sochi Winter Games participants such as Lauriane Rougeau, Marie-Philip Poulin and Natalie Spooner, among others.

Among the game’s superstars that Wiebe would call teammates, she would gain the opportunity to skate alongside Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux during her NCAA career with North Dakota, where she earned four letters. The first twins to compete in women’s ice hockey at the Winter Games, the two added an exciting dimension to North Dakota, propelling the program into the top 10 rankings.

“Playing with Jocelyn and Monique Lamoureux at UND was very exciting and added value to my college hockey experience. They are both tremendous athletes and leaders on and off the ice.

Both bring different strengths to the game and continuously pushed the rest of the team to become better. It’s fun to watch them now play for the US Olympic team and continue to have success on the ice.” 

Throughout her career with North Dakota, she helped to maintain a standard of excellence, establishing herself as one of the program’s most consistent and dependable players. As a freshman, she managed three game winning goals, while her 28 points tied Cara Wooster for most by a freshman. Gaining a spot on the 2009-10 WCHA All-Star team, she was also an All-WCHA Academic team member, while leading all players on her team with a solid 30 points.Durability represented her junior season, as she saw action in all 36 games, while logging a career-high 34 points.

Statistically, Wiebe logged 115 points with North Dakota, compiling 47 goals and 68 assists. Of note, Wiebe became the first player in North Dakota program history to reach 100 career points, a feat that she accomplished in her senior season. While reaching the century mark represented a proud personal milestone for Wiebe, her strong teamwork skills shine through in reflecting on a moment that shall forever hold a special place in her heart,

“My favorite team moment playing hockey for UND was when we swept the Minnesota Golden Gophers at home in 2010-2011. They had not been swept at home since 2007. This was a huge accomplishment as a team and really put us on the map. My favorite personal moment was scoring a breakaway goal against the Minnesota State University Mavericks for my 100th career point.”

As a side note, North Dakota would defeat Minnesota for the first time on October 15, 2010. Wiebe would make her presence felt, gaining an assist on a goal scored by Margot Miller.

Statistically, Wiebe’s final goal with North Dakota would take place on January 28, 2012 against Ohio State. Scored against Lisa Steffes, Miller and Monique Lamoureux would earn the assists. Also gaining an assist on a goal scored by Mary Loken in the contest, it would prove to be the final multi-point game of her career as well.

A February 3, 2012 encounter with the Bemidji State Beavers would result in Wiebe registering an assist, representing the final point of her NCAA career. Of note, said point would bring a glorious highlight to Wiebe’s career. Combining with Monique Lamoureux on the assist, not only would Michele Karvinen log the game-winning tally, it would be the second goal in a natural hat trick.

Having graduated from North Dakota with a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design Technology, along with a minor in Sport Business, Wiebe is studious, articulate and ambitious, qualities that make her an exceptional teammate. In between NCAA hockey and WWCFL football, Wiebe would remain active, competing in the Adult Safe Hockey League.

Although Wiebe has transitioned to the gridiron, hockey still holds a special place in her heart. Proving that one can truly go home again, she is currently serving in a coaching capacity with the Notre Dame Hounds. Having also been part of the coaching staff in years past is Mira Trebilcock, another hockey hero that has made the transition to the gridiron.

Although Trebilcock plays for the rival Regina Riot, there is no shortage of mutual respect between the two. The two would even become part of the rivalry between Saskatoon and Regina as Wiebe lined up against Trebilcock and the Riot on May 21, 2016. It marked the first time that the two friends opposed each other on the gridiron. Wiebe registered three catches for 39 yards, and scored the first touchdown of the game in a 47-21 victory at SMF Field.

“Playing against Mira was awesome. Anytime you get to suit up against a friend, you know it is going to be a fun experience. She is one of the biggest reasons that I suited up this season for the Valkyries.

We were roommates two years ago while working at Athol Murray College of Notre Dame and now we are competing on the field. She has a year under her belt, playing for the Riot last season.

Football has always been on my radar but I have never pursued it until I watched Mira excel last year with the Riot. I took a pretty good hit from her towards the end of the game this week, but of course, there are no hard feelings as it is all part of the game.”

Taking into account that Trebilcock was part of the Riot’s championship winning roster in 2015, it is an ambition that Wiebe hopes to emulate with the Valkyries. Having won the first four championship in WWCFL history, the Valkyries are aiming to become the first-ever team in league history to capture five titles, an achievement that Wiebe would be proud to contribute to,

“It has been quite a while since I have been a part of a competitive Championship team. Winning a championship title with the Valkyries would be a great accomplishment and something I would be proud of for a long time. The Valkyries lost a heartbreaker last year to the Regina Riot and to be able to help the 2016 team to a championship this season would be pretty amazing.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Photo credits: Saskatoon Valkyries photos by Liam Richards, North Dakota photos by Emily Green

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