Meagan Wilson took an injury and turned it into an opportunity… to coach! Find out how her dedication to sport leadership changed her life.

  • November 22, 2022

CAO’s Empowering Stories from Behind the Bench – November 2022

“I learned, and now my players do the same thing. we learn from the mistakes of others, to make things better…”

By David Grossman

She does things her way and, in doing so, continues to exhibit a combination of admirable qualities that range from courage and honor to courtesy and respect.

Her name is Meagan Wilson. There are many with the same name, but only one with what many would say as having one of those compassionate stories that makes you understand the challenge of human power and struggle.

Wilson is a woman fulfilling personal dreams – and she’s doing it through the world of sport.

Over the years, proving that academics and athletics are a good combination, Wilson was a multi-sport athlete. She achieved academic honors as a student in an enrichment program during her younger days at Lansdowne-Costain Public School in Brantford.

Born on the Six Nations Reserve, Wilson would later move to the nearby big city that would be known for more than being the home of Graham Bell, the telephone inventor. Add the place that raised a hockey player called Gretzky and the plant that made Nutella and Ferrero Rocher chocolates. Brantford was home for Wilson, too.

Several years later, she would return to live on the Reserve with her mother.

As a youngster burgeoning with interest, it wasn’t until she had turned 13, that Wilson would become enamored with a sport played by almost seven million people around the world. Yes, rugby.

For years, she had watched her older brother play the game that continues to dominate the area, located some 30 minutes north of Lake Erie and west of Toronto. It wasn’t until she entered grade 9 at Brantford Collegiate, that Wilson opted to see how she would manage in a physical game that also had its share of excitement.

“My mom (Melanie) loved to see me getting involved in sport,” said Wilson, who was raised by a single parent. “We would later come up with the idea of offering a rugby program in our community to get young girls involved and active.”

She would learn quickly, dominate in many ways, and would play a major part, not just as Most Valuable Player on the team, but as one that encouraged teammates to aim for the top. They did just that, winning away three consecutive city championships.

Then came the accolades that went with an Ontario high school rugby gold medal. Wilson had an opportunity to go bigger and train with Indigenous youth at a special program in British Columbia. It also happened to be taking place on the grounds of Shawnigan Lake School – a private educational institution on Vancouver Island.

Heading to Canada’s west coast turned out to be a brilliant move in more ways than one.

People witnessed her success, tenacity, and tremendous perseverance. Then came a scholarship for her grade 12 year, one that would take care of room, board, and tuition. When Wilson returned to Ontario, she had already caught the attention of recruiting coaches, and would shuffle off to McMaster University in Hamilton.

A charismatic and fierce competitor, rugby had taken over her life.

She studied social sciences – but also helped McMaster win an Ontario University Athletics (OUA) rugby title, followed by a Canadian (USports) university championship.

Medals, accomplishments, a fondness for the sport, people who knew Wilson were also aware that rugby was important to her. They could see her certainty and confidence as well as the personal power and the nerves of steel.

But everything would come to a grinding halt in 2016. She had to deal with a genuine crisis – one that involved damage to a medial collateral ligament in her left leg suffered in a game. It was a major tear with superb treatment from authorities at McMaster. Then, six weeks of inactivity.

“Rugby was so important to me and then came the injury,” she recalled, having been the recipient of the Seven Grandfather’s Award from McMaster for her efforts with Indigenous youth sport.

Wilson would recover and return to the line-up for the Canadian university national playoffs in Victoria but did not play much of the tournament. McMaster would finish in the bottom four teams.

“To me, being recognized (for the award) was special but the injury was a disaster. I was also frustrated for some reason, things just went whacky for a bit. I was a 19-year-old and rugby became a chore and less fun. In fact, school also didn’t mean much anymore.”

The break may have been just what Wilson needed.

“I went on to work in various part time jobs at a gas station, a restaurant and looked for other post secondary options,” said Wilson, who earned a diploma after two years. “I had wanted a taste of freedom. As a player, I was always so busy. Then, when I became bored, I returned to rugby – but with a small club. I didn’t care about the outcome, met great people, and played for fun.”

In 2017, she became serious about coaching, and has been involved in delivering 10 camps and introducing rugby to over 200 First Nations youth in Ontario. Wilson didn’t need a reminder for big moments and key games. Not only was she in a precarious position, but she had to find ways to be physically and mentally sound. She also wasn’t one to throw up her arms in frustration and surrender a game she had adored.

That same year came the idea to start what has now become a popular co-educational club – Iroquois Roots Rugby where she is the head coach. With the credentials coming from attending a National Coaching Certification Program Wilson has focussed on planning, organizing, and delivering programs – aimed at techniques and skills – for a variety of boys and girls in different age groups.

“It’s not just about getting on the field with a ball, but the importance of tradition and culture,” she said. “It’s very important for us to provide Indigenous youth with a sense of respect for each other and the communities they represent.”

In 2018, Wilson was honored with a Grassroots Coach Award by the Coaches Association of Ontario at its annual Ontario Coaching Excellence Awards in Toronto. The recognition brought emotional tears, as well as renewing a commitment to inspire young girls – especially in the Iroquois Confederacy of Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca, and Tuscarora communities – to learn and play rugby.

She had seen the signs of progress and went on to coach the first all-Indigenous rugby team in Ontario at the Great North 7’s tournament in 2019, followed by another appearance at the Q-Meta Cup, part of the Rugby Ontario series of events.

“I lived on a Reserve and there were times when I had struggled to fit in with others,” said Wilson, who is currently doing a Bachelor of Indigenous Social Work (on-line) through Laurentian University.

“I learned, and now my players do the same thing. We learn from the mistakes of others, to make things better and I just love coaching those under six years old in the introduction to rugby program.”


It’s very important for us to provide Indigenous youth with a sense of respect for each other and the communities they represent.”

David Grossman is a veteran multi award-winning Journalist and Broadcaster with some of Canada’s major media, including the Toronto Star and SPORTSNET 590 THE FAN, and a Public Relations professional for 45+ years in Canadian sports and Government relations.