A Rich History of Powerful Women
The Rockers Athletic Club was founded in 1976 as the city’s first female rugby club and was the brainchild of several wives and girlfriends of the local Edmonton men’s rugby clubs. During the early years of the club, players ranged in age from 16 to 28 and many were high-school students or students at NAIT and the University of Alberta. The athletic and aggressive nature of rugby was a large draw. Founding members Laura Jackson, Susan Campbell, and Marilyn Scott were local track athletes that were recruited within the first month of the inception of the club and quickly immersed themselves in the newly discovered sport. The women’s sheer athleticism transferred well into rugby. Several early Rockers were sprinters, one participating in cross country, and fellow founding member Shirley Bergland played field-hockey at a provincially competitive level.
As early as 1981, the Rockers began practicing twice weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays at their current clubhouse location, the Argyll Velodrome. Training, practice and determination allowed the Rockers to evolve into skilled rugby players. The organization and fundraising efforts of the Rockers club helped the team to tour abroad. In the first 10 years of their time as a club, the Rockers traveled to San Diego, Boston, New Orleans, Vancouver, and on October 6, 1983 the Rockers began their extensive United Kingdom tour. The Rockers traveled throughout England and Wales, and shut-out every team they encountered. Whether it was the matches, the partying, or sight-seeing that accompanied the tours, the Rockers looked forward to touring.
The Rockers determination, relentless pursuit of competition, obvious love of the game and improving skill level helped contribute to a realization amongst Edmonton’s rugby community that the Rockers were a ‘legitimate’ rugby team worthy of respect and acknowledgement, and were an organization that was going to stay. On September 22, 1995 the Rockers achieved another first with the ground breaking of their new clubhouse, the first women’s rugby clubhouse in the world. Founding member Laura Jackson became the world’s first female president of a branch of rugby union when she lead the ERU in the 1980s. The Rockers were also instrumental in developing the high school women’s rugby programs in both Edmonton and Sherwood Park. All these firsts stand as a testament to the determination, strength, and aggression that these women possessed and brought to the sport.
The Rockers were the first women’s rugby team in Edmonton and from the team’s inception the Rockers have been one of Alberta’s dominant rugby teams. To date the Rockers have earned 25 provincial titles, and, over the years, the team has continually contributed players to Alberta’s provincial team, University of Alberta and Lethbridge varsity teams and Canada’s national 15s and 7s teams.