Molly Labenski trades in Acadia’s red & blue for Queen’s tricolour

Women's rugby gets three-time academic All-Canadian for upcoming season

Molly Labenski was a three-time academic All-Canadian during her career at Acadia.
Molly Labenski was a three-time academic All-Canadian during her career at Acadia.
Photo supplied by Molly Labenski

For those who experienced it live, the night of November 5, 2015 at Nixon Field was easily one of the most unforgettable and dramatic nights in Queen’s athletic history. 

After falling behind 17-0 in the 2015 CIS women’s rugby quarterfinal — which Queen’s hosted —  24 unanswered points for Queen’s over the Acadia Axewomen paved the way towards the program’s highest ever finish with a national silver medal.

Acadia’s tournament went in the opposite direction, as they would lose 55-12 in the consolation playoff to Victoria University.

For former Acadia player Molly Labenski and the Axewomen, it was unforgettable for all the opposite reasons. 

“It still haunts me,” she said of the loss. 

While Labenski will have another chance, potentially two, at achieving provincial and CIS glory, she’ll be doing so as a Queen’s Gael. 

Her decision to join the Gaels was announced officially by the program on May 30 and she’ll be enrolling in a Master’s program. 

Due to a hand injury during her third year that forced her out for the entire season, the Oakville native still holds two of her five years of CIS eligibility.  

A double major in Honours English and biology, Labenski was a three-time academic All-Canadian at Acadia. 

Only reaching the CIS championship tournament once in her career, Labenski knows the road to a national title isn’t an easy one. 

Though she’ll still remain close with her old teammates, Labenski said she’ll do whatever she can to erase the haunting memories of last year’s loss — even if it’s at the expense of her old team, Acadia. 

“It would be nice to be on the winning side this time,” she said.

Labenski says her dream matchup for the 2016 national championship would be Queen’s–Acadia.

“That possibility is what I’m really looking forward to,” she said.

The Gaels also announced on the same day the commitments of their undergraduate recruits Olivia Apps, Camille Irvine, Sofie Kennedy and Anna Killacky. 

Though she’s coming in with more CIS experience than most of her new teammates, Labenski said she’s ready to come into the program like a rookie and not assume she’ll be handed playing time solely due to her resume.

Assistant coach Sean Dunleavy echoed Labenski’s sentiment, stating that team selection for games was always based on performance over any other factor.

While she has yet to formally meet or train with the rest of the team, Labenski has had one main point of contact — standout centre Sadie Stephenson, a rookie on last year’s team. 

Both went to Oakville Trafalgar High School —  a known rugby power — and despite being three years apart, the pair naturally became closer once Labenski committed to Queen’s. Labenski says the continual communication has helped her immensely with the early steps of her transition. 

The Gaels are currently searching for a new co-captain to be announced before their season opener on September 10 against Trent, with a possibility they’ll be picking from a young leader like Stephenson.

Labenski won’t return to Kingston full-time until training camp starts in August, but said she’s been training hard to earn a roster spot when the time comes.

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