After a short struggle with cancer, Jenny Vincent, PhD student in Sport Technology and coach of the Dinos varsity women's rugby team, passed away Jan. 24 at the age of 41.
To many, Jenny Vincent was an inspirational and incredibly positive person. A memorial service attended by many former players, friends and family, made Vincent's impact at the University of Calgary obvious. Long-time friend Tanya Childs said Vincent lived life to the fullest, with no regrets.
Vincent was studying under Larry Katz, a professor and director of the U of C's Sport Technology Research Laboratory. Vincent and Katz worked closely together developing an online database to evaluate the performance of Canadian athletes training for the 2010 Winter Olympics. The database functions as a tracking tool to allow coaches and members of the public to follow the progress of athletes and teams as they prepare for the games. The data collected compares the outcomes with other national teams. The database is accessible through ownthepodium2010.com.
Katz said Jenny was a "brilliant student."
"It is hard to describe such an amazing person," said Katz. "When you were around her you felt really positive. Her enthusiasm and energy is just amazing."
"Even when at the end Jenny was trying to make sure everything was taken care of, making sure the rugby program would continue. It was very important to her," said Katz.
Vincent was the "catalyst" taking the U of C women's rugby team from club to varsity competition. Keely Willment, president of the women's rugby team, said the program would not exist without Jenny. The team first competed at the varsity level in 2009.
"Jenny was really passionate about rugby and shared that with the team. She was a role model and committed to developing rugby as a sport," said Willment.
Vincent was Willment's first coach and it was through Vincent's passion that Willment was able to appreciate rugby as a sport.
"Jenny was the one who worked hard to take it from club status to what it is today," said Willment.
From 1987 to 1992 Vincent played on the first senior women's national rugby team. A pioneer of women's rugby in Canada, she continued spreading her passion for the sport by starting a women's rugby team at the University of Victoria. Vincent coached all levels of rugby throughout Canada during her coaching career, ending in Calgary as the head coach of the Dino's women's rugby team.
Two scholarships have been created to honour Vincent. Katz said it is a way to pay tribute to "such an impressive individual." The Sports Technology Research Lab Scholarship supports graduate student research and Vincent's family formed the Jenny Vincent Coaching Endowment for Women's Rugby to support future coaches of the team.