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N.S. teen heart-attack survivor finds inspiration through rugby for recovery

Click to play video 'N.S. teen credits love for rugby to help her recovery after health scare' N.S. teen credits love for rugby to help her recovery after health scare
WATCH: A Nova Scotia teen who suffered four cardiac arrests says her love for rugby was her inspiration during her recovery – Dec 9, 2019

While most high school students were settling into a new year of studies, Marley Raycroft was fighting for her life in hospital after an unexpected health scare left her in critical condition.

“I had a pulmonary embolism, which is like a blood clot in your lung. It caused me to have four cardiac arrests, so it was pretty scary but aiming to get back on the rugby field really helped me to get through it,” Raycroft said.

Jersey presentation
Raycroft stands alongside two Rugby Canada players who she considers to be her role models. Olivia DeMerchant (left) and Alysha Corrigan (right) presented Raycroft with a Rugby Canada jersey. Rugby Nova Scotia

While Raycroft is well on her way to a full recovery now, her love for rugby helped motivate her during some of the toughest moments she faced in hospital.

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Her medical team was even astounded by the fierce determination she showed while fighting to regain her strength.

“The doctors were like, ‘she’s so resilient, she must play a really tough sport,’ and I was like, ‘yeah, I play rugby,'” Raycroft said.

When it comes to inspirational rugby role models, Raycroft doesn’t have to look far.

Click to play video 'Rising rugby star Hannah Darling enjoying home life after retiring from national squad to work on mental health' Rising rugby star Hannah Darling enjoying home life after retiring from national squad to work on mental health
Rising rugby star Hannah Darling enjoying home life after retiring from national squad to work on mental health – Dec 11, 2018

Recently, four women were selected from the Rugby Nova Scotia’s senior women’s Keltics team to represent Canada on the international stage.

Rugby Canada’s senior women’s program is building towards the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and recently played a test series against the United States as part of their preparation and selection process.

Coming away with wins in both games, Team Canada players like Prince Edward Island native Alysha Corrigan are thrilled with the development women’s rugby is experiencing on Canada’s east coast.

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“It’s nice to be able to have a couple of the girls you train with go and play and represent Canada,” Corrigan said.

“We put a lot of work in here so it’s definitely an honour to play alongside them and it’s good for the east coast to get represented.”

Keltics players
Alysha Corrigan, Olivia DeMarchant, Janna Slevinsky and Emma Taylor are all rugby players who have represented the Nova Scotia Keltics. Recently, they were selected to play for Team Canada during a test series against the United States in preparation for the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup. Rugby Nova Scotia

Raycroft has been watching the successes Corrigan and other Maritime women are having. Which is why she says she was awe-stricken to see Corrigan and fellow senior women’s player, Olivia DeMerchant, pay her a surprise visit at Lockview High School.

“I was so shocked and I just could not believe it.”

“I see [social media] posts of them all the time and I look up to them like they’re my role models,” Raycroft said.
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As a way to encourage Raycroft on her road to recovery, Corrigan and DeMerchant presented her with a jersey recently worn during the Can-Am test series.

“She’s been through a lot and just giving her that little bit of extra motivation — a kind of hope to get her back on that rugby field — is something that we were lucky enough to be able to do,” Corrigan said.

The Rugby Canada jersey presented to Raycroft to encourage her along her road to recovery and back to the sport she loves.
The Rugby Canada jersey presented to Raycroft to encourage her along her road to recovery and back to the sport she loves. Alexa MacLean/Global Halifax

It was a special moment Raycroft won’t soon forget.

“It just builds my love for rugby even more and it just makes me so happy that I’m apart of the rugby community,” she said.