Know Your Athlete, Martlets, Rugby, Sports

Know Your Athlete: Lauren Minns

Despite missing the past two seasons due to a sprained ankle and then a coaching job at Vanier College, Lauren Minns was quick to make an impression with the Martlets’ rugby team, scoring three tries in the Martlets’ historic win in the first game of the season. After back-to-back seasons stuck on the bench, Minns sat down with //The Tribune// to discuss her journey to falling in love with the sport and her excitement to finally play a full season at McGill. 

Minns grew up in the Montreal neighborhood of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, and only started playing rugby as a sport in high school. Growing up, she exclusively played soccer and wrestling. After playing a bit of rugby in high school, she switched her focus to wrestling, but felt that it was not giving her what she wanted from athletics.

“I really missed that team-sport vibe, which is what led me to try out for the rugby team at John Abbott [College] in my third year,” she explained. “Also, wrestling wasn’t [competed] at the CEGEP level, so I wasn’t playing for John Abbott when I wrestled—I was just part of my own club. I wanted to get reintroduced into the student-athlete life in college.”

Minns’ rugby prowess in CEGEP caught the attention of the University of Ottawa (UOttawa). UOttawa representatives invited her to rugby recruitment weekend programs before she later committed to the school. At UOttawa, Minns experienced the glory of a national championship in her rookie year; that season, she won Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) Rookie of the Year and was a first-team All-Star. She played three seasons for the school before the pandemic wiped out her senior season.

After graduating from UOttawa, Minns came to McGill Law and decided to continue her rugby journey with the Martlets. 

“What I thought was very unique about this opportunity was to just see […] how we can continue helping this program slowly and surely get back to the top—because, at one point, McGill was the best in the RSEQ,” Minns said.

Despite the Martlets’ poor record over the past few seasons, Minns believes that the key to success lies in attitude and in strong defensive play.

“For me, [the mindset] is: How, in any way, shape, or form, can I help decrease the gap between the points we score and the points that the other team scores against us?” she explained. “The goal was to shorten that gap so that every single game felt more competitive, every game felt more like the other team actually had to work for their win, work for every point. I didn’t want [opposing] teams to feel like they could do whatever they wanted.”

In Minns’ eyes, the game against Bishop’s on Aug. 31 exemplified that changed attitude in action as McGill not only rallied to keep their defense tight while scoring points but also made one last try towards the end of the game just to make a point, despite not needing the try to win the game.

At the start of the season, nobody on the team had experienced a win while playing for McGill. With a win under their belt now solidifying their foundation, the team is set up well to keep building their program.

Outside of rugby, Minns is a travel fanatic. Her favourite trip was with one of her best friends to Greece, where she spent six weeks in Sparta volunteering and teaching English to kindergarteners.

“It completely changed my outlook on life—the way people approach life in Sparta is so different from how I was used to approaching it here,” she said. “Nothing felt like a rush there; everyone took the time to do what they wanted to do throughout the day, properly […] the human interaction was so much more genuine and thoughtful.”

The team’s last game of the season was a loss on Oct. 1 against the Université de Montréal. With this season’s conclusion, Minns hopes to make the most of her last year of eligibility in 2024.

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