April 19, 2012
Rough 'and rewarding' path for BLG nominee Beukeboom
By Ian Busby, QMI Agnecy
Faced with a choice between hockey and rugby, Tyson Beukeboom took the rougher path.
That meant leaving her father's sport.
Yet it was those Jeff Beukeboom genes that made his daughter focus on rugby after one year as a two-sport athlete at St. Francis-Xavier.
"Women's hockey is non-contact," said Tyson Beukeboom, one of four nominees for the BLG Award, given annually to the top male and female athletes of the year.
"I tend to have a lot of pent-up aggression. When I got into high school, I heard about this sport rugby where we were allowed to hit each other. I took that opportunity and I'm OK with it."
Turns out that was a great decision for Beukeboom, who could have went down several athletic paths. She played both hockey and rugby through high school plus spent time on the basketball, cross-country and mountain-biking teams.
When she turned to rugby full-time for her sophomore season, Beukeboom picked up back-to-back Atlantic Conference MVP awards.
St. F-X has made three straight trips to nationals, winning in 2010. Being in nationals in both hockey and rugby as a rookie wore her out, and she was faced with a decision.
"I love them equally," Beukeboom said. "Mentally and physically, I was done after the two seasons were over. I decided to play rugby because I felt I had more of a future in the sport."
Beukeboom's goal is to eventually join the national team for both the full squad and the sevens. First, she has two more years left of CIS eligibility but just one more year until she gets her human kinetics degree.
Beukeboom may have stopped playing her father's sport, but the four-time Stanley Cup champion did play a huge part in his daughter's development as an athlete.
Tyson doesn't remember how old she was when her father sat her down for an important chat, but she never forgets the message.
"I was a good player, but I didn't work very hard for what I had," Tyson said. "He told me, 'If you don't start working hard, the girls you are above right now are going to pass you.'
"He asked me what I wanted to do with hockey. I told him I wanted to play on the Olympic women's team. He said if you don't start working hard, it's never going to happen. "That conversation was the turning point in my going from someone who just plays for fun to someone who wants to be the best. That's transferred over to rugby."
Even though she's not the biggest player on the field, Beukeboom has never let that stop her from being a physical force.
"The bigger girls look at a line of defence and find the smallest person they can to run at," Beukeboom said. "A lot of times, that person is me.
"The girls that know me don't do it anymore. I proved to them even if I'm 40 lb. lighter, I can still take you.
"I love playing new teams when the girls look down the line and want to run at No. 8 and I put them on their back. That's my goal every time I hit somebody."