On a sunny May Sunday afternoon, Sam Matheson lined up behind the field as her team battled out in fives. The game was simple, swing to the left side.
Five seconds after the snap, Matheson was in the end zone and the celebration began.
This is how the 27-year-old kicked off the 2022 season filled with the promise of another league title and a chance at the World Cup with Team Canada.
This production followed a brief retirement, but her return to football stardom was cut short this season due to a knee injury.
“It was hard at first,” Matheson admitted. “But what are you going to do, you either move forward or you don’t.”
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The drive that made her terrorize defense as the best running back in the league also kept her spirits up despite the setback, turning her pads into a clipboard while transitioning into a coaching role with the Valkyries.
“I’m so sorry for Sam, she was in great shape and doing so well, I feel for her,” Valkyries head coach Pat Barry said. “Injuries are part of sport and football, but she is such a positive person and a great role model that we all wish her the very best for the future.”
Moving forward in her new role has helped Matheson through the ups and downs, and has also benefited her longtime backfield friend fellow tracker Sarah Wright.
“Sam has helped me a lot even this year and on Team Canada, she has taken me under her wing because she has been there before,” Wright said. “So having a mentor like that helped me get through it in a way, and even our junior runner year after year, I can’t thank her enough.”
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“I love working with her on the field,” Matheson added. “I wish we could spend more time together, but now I see her killing him.”
As Matheson faded into the background, Wright grabbed her mantle of the future back, the Valkyries clattering out of the rear field, the job she took on and is running from.
While the two have made a formidable duo as a two-pronged attack, their duo as coach and player is an equally strong force to be reckoned with.
“Even when there is some confusion on the field or some games are not going quite right, I like to be there when they go to the touchline,” explained Matheson. “(When they ask) what they did wrong, it’s really nice to talk to them about it and help them improve their game.”
“She has a wealth of knowledge and is willing to share it,” Wright beamed. “So I’ll take whatever I can, honestly.”
“They both get along so well and they just compete so hard,” Barry said. “But the point is who (Matheson) is as a person. She’s a great teammate and an even better person, I’m just so happy to have her with us.”
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