Story by Mac White

Graphic by Christophe Young

In her final year with the Carleton Ravens women’s rugby team, Melanie Judges recorded three tries for a total of 15 points, earning her a spot amongst the Ravens’ top five scorers of the season.

The fifth-year forward joined the Ravens in 2014 after having previously played for Queen’s University for five years. While pursuing her master’s of business administration at Carleton, she brought a wealth of experience to the team, having played at nationals numerous times with Queen’s, where she also won an Ontario University Athletics championship in 2013.

The Charlatan spoke with Judges about her love of the game, and what’s next for her career.

The Charlatan (TC): You haven’t always been a Raven. Can you describe your journey to where you are today?

Melanie Judges (MJ): This is my second year at Carleton; I wasn’t able to play last year because I was academically ineligible. I played at Queen’s for five years. In my third year I broke my leg in my first season game so I got my eligibility back. But in my fifth year I didn’t take a second semester of school, I went travelling instead. You have to take a full academic year to be eligible for the next [U Sports] season.

TC: What do you love about rugby?

MJ: I love how you can kind of just do whatever you want on the field all the time. There are things that are structured obviously, but for the most part you can read the field and react to what the opposition is doing. It gives you the freedom to do whatever. I also have become a very aggressive rugby player—I thrive off of making tackles and chasing kicks and stuff like that.

TC: Can you compare Queen’s to Carleton?

MJ: It was very different. When I was at Queen’s, it was a big, steep learning curve for me because I was relatively new to the sport and playing it at a higher level . . . The role I played at Queen’s was essentially just a player. In my fourth and fifth year I was kind of a leader on the field because I had been there for so long. I was always a starter but never really a key, key player. Whereas at Carleton, I really felt that I led by example, and a lot of the first-year rookies . . . looked up to me and asked me a lot of questions because I brought that experience level to Carleton. I like leading on and off the field, it’s something I’ve always done in sport and that was a huge difference.

TC: What are your thoughts on the 2016 season?

MJ: I honestly came in here without a lot of high expectations about the season. I was coming out of Queen’s where we went to nationals four out of the five years I was there. I was willing to kind of take a step back and play for the love of the sport as opposed to being competitive. But I was surprised, we came out a lot stronger than I thought. There were a lot of key players that I didn’t realize how strong they were. The way our coaches set up our starting lineups really helped us, they knew exactly where they wanted everyone and it worked.

TC: What’s next for you on and off the field?

MJ: My undergraduate was in kinesiology and I want to get into sport business eventually. I’ve got the sports side down and I want to work on the business side . . . I’m training right now and I guess in the new year I’ll be back on my full training routine to play provincials. Who knows in the future? If the national level option came up I wouldn’t turn it down, but it’s not a huge focus for me. For me my career is a huge priority so I’m trying to balance rugby and school, and at the end of the day if I had to give up work altogether for rugby, I don’t know if I could do that just yet.                                                  

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.