Rowan came into the world kicking and screaming, on her due date June 25 1995, not a day late. She was bright, energetic and very curious. She required plenty of stimulation early on to prevent bouts of screaming from boredom. This was when we realized she was going to require involvement in extracurricular activities and sport.
She was born with enthusiasm and fearlessness to engage in activity or sport, she also had a kindness and interest that drew in friends, classmates, teammates and others. She had a caring and nurturing tendency from a very young age. It started with her doll Mikaela, who accompanied her on many excursions and trips including a voyage on the Maid of the Mist in Niagara Falls, and yes Mikaela had to have her own raincoat. She found joy in training and caring for our sweet little Shih Tzu, Zoe, a couple of cats, Portia and George, 3 hamsters and 2 rats. But babies and children were clearly her passion. During the first Ice Age movie she sobbed when the devastated sloth Sid returned the baby to its father, after caring for it for months. People in the theatre asked us if she was going to be ok and we learned to be very wary of Disney movies or anything with animals. Toddlers gravitated to her and she had patience and gentleness beyond her years.
Rowan participated from a very early age in swimming, gymnastics and Little Duffer Doo. Upon arriving she would see children crying and gaze up at me. I’d shake my head and say “I don’t know cause Mommy would sure rather play and have fun than go home to clean and vacuum”. She’d nod and run off. Nursery school, ringette, soccer came next. She played many years of ringette some at AA level, even winning Provincials in 2009. I sometimes wondered if she liked the change room chatting and shenanigans just as much as playing the game as she was often the last player out. Then there was Girl Guides, piano, snowboarding, lacrosse and touch football. Girl Guides was something we enjoyed together, going to many camps over the years and even to Scotland. Rowan loved to sing and belted out each song with enthusiasm but unfortunately a little out of tune.
The last sport she took up was rugby, and from the gleam in her eye, we knew it was her favorite. She was in grade 11 and her high school had a varsity girls team for the first time. All we heard about was running, tackling, rucks and line-outs. We always laughed about her long skinny arms but now she had a new nickname, Monkey Arms and she was proud! They lost every game that season but a fantastic time was had by all.
Rowan announced that she would be playing club rugby that summer for the Barrhaven Scottish. She walked over to the field twice a week to practice and was learning much more and loving every minute of it. That summer her tackling skills improved even more and she got more confident handling the ball. I remember the game she scored her first try and teammates congratulating her, and her grinning ear to ear.
In February of 2013 she started talking about rugby at John McCrae again and practicing in the gym. She was named co-captain and was very excited to be helping the coaches with drills and encouraging and supporting the many new players. On May 3rd she participated in an all-day tournament, playing 3 shortened games. In the third game she was tackled, removed from play and shortly after complained of a headache. The following Monday she had a game after school and was feeling great and ready to play. In this game someone stepped hard on her head and her headache returned and she suspected she had a concussion but told no adult. Wednesday May 8th after school was her last game. She was not feeling well but wanted to play and in this game she sustained her last concussion which led to Second Impact Syndrome and her death on May 12th.
It’s terrible and devastating to lose a child. What’s even worse is that Rowan’s death was preventable. This is why we’ve decided to do what we can to tell Rowan’s story, educate children, athletes and all involved in child and youth sport. Our goal is to help to prevent future injury and death from concussion. Creating legislation, Rowan’s Law, will help protect our youth and fulfill Rowan’s dream of helping children. Please show your support by signing our petition.