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BEHIND THE SCENES: Opening doors from the pocket of the gridiron

BayToday reporter Chris Dawson takes us behind the scenes

Isabelle Berube's passion for football started at the age of nine when she watched her brother's tackle football practice. Since then, she has been wholeheartedly involved in the sport, even playing alongside male teammates. Now, at 16 years old and attending ecole-secondaire Algonquin, she has been chosen as a quarterback for Team Ontario Red, which will be competing in the National Women's Under-18 Football Championship in Ottawa from July 21 to 29. Berube attributes her preparedness for this opportunity to the North Bay Bulldogs football program, expressing gratitude for the experience and coaching she received during her seven years in the program.

Although Berube also played high school football with the Algonquin Barons junior varsity team last year, her talent goes beyond that level. Ryan Desbiens, head coach of the senior Barons team, recognizes Berube's potential to compete with the top U18 players nationwide. Her standout performance at the Team Ontario tryouts led to her being the first overall selection for Team Ontario Red. Desbiens praises Berube for her focus, constant desire to improve, coachability, and attention to detail. He believes that her dedication and years of experience playing the game set her apart, even from her male counterparts.

Berube herself was confident in her abilities and anticipated a high selection. She performed well in the camps and is thrilled to receive recognition from the tournament. Alongside her participation in the U16 Bulldogs team this summer, she continues to enhance her skills through one-on-one training with quarterback coach Andrew Robillard, who is an alumnus of Bishop's University and Algonquin. Berube dedicates her free time to practice and refining fundamental aspects of her game, such as footwork.

Beyond her personal achievements, Berube hopes that her success and participation in the championship will pave the way for more opportunities for female football players in the area. She acknowledges the support and guidance of coaches like Christa Morgan, Clinton Major, and Desbiens in pursuing her football dreams. Desbiens recognizes the growing opportunities for women in tackle and flag football, both at the provincial level and within university and college leagues. He expresses his excitement for Berube's future in the sport and the overall positive impact of these developments.

Video Summary:

Isabelle Berube, a 16-year-old student at Algonquin Secondary School, has made a name for herself in the world of football. She has been selected as a quarterback for Team Ontario Red in the upcoming National Women's Under-18 Football Championship, which will take place in Ottawa next month. The championship provides a platform for women to participate in the sport, and Ontario has divided their team into two squads: A-Team Black and A-Team Red. Isabelle, following in the footsteps of her brother, developed a passion for football at a young age and has been playing with boys throughout her journey. She also plays club football with the North Bay Bulldogs and participated in the Algonquin Barons' team last year.

Isabelle's involvement in the North Bay Bulldogs football program has played a crucial role in her preparation for the upcoming national championship and her future career. The program has provided her with valuable guidance and coaching. Having a female coach like Krista Morgan has been particularly beneficial, as she has been a confidence builder for Isabelle. The expanded opportunities offered by the Bulldogs program have allowed Isabelle to develop her skills and gain experience in the sport.

Isabelle's participation in the championship not only showcases her talent but also represents a significant step forward for women's football. While women's rugby has existed for decades, it is surprising that women's football has taken longer to gain recognition. This moment could mark a turning point for female football players, similar to the growth of girls' hockey in the 2000s. Isabelle's success and the increasing participation of women in sports reflect the evolving landscape of athletics and provide inspiration for other aspiring female football players.