Female quarterback blazes a trail at St. Pat’s High

Anne-Laurence Harveycolor.jpg
Photo: Marie White

Anne-Laurence Harvey, 14, holdss her helmet and medals

By Marie White
At the tender age of 14, Anne-Laurence Harvey is a trailblazer.
This season, Harvey scored not only the first but the first three touchdowns ever as the first female quarterback for the St. Patrick's High School Fighting Irish football team.

"I was really surprised to be told after my first touchdown that I was the first girl," explained Harvey, a secondary three student, to the QCT in her Quebec City home on a sunny Sunday afternoon. "And I felt happy."

At a slim 5'3 and 132 lbs, she found she could compete well with her often younger peers.

Her father, Luc, explained that most of the male players were still in secondary one or two and had not yet reached their full size.

"Boys get a real growth spurt and keep gaining in weight and height until their eighteen while girls don't."

So what was his daughter's greatest asset that made her stand out so remarkably and help her score three touchdowns?
Speed according to her father, the former Conservative Member of Parliament for Louis-Hébert. Scoring her touchdowns meant running 50 to 60 yards.

"She's really fast," chimes in her smiling mother, Catherine Louisy, herself a regular soccer player for the Velours Verts mixed soccer team in the Ligue de la Capitale. "She got that from me," beams the proud mother of four girls, all of whom are athletes in their own right.

Originally from Ste. Lucia in the Caribbean Sea, Catherine was a talented runner who came to Laval University to learn French. She became an English teacher, met her husband and settled here. Her daughters all seem gifted with athletic abilities ranging from gymnastics to rugby to soccer to basketball.

Asked if she plans to pursue football next year or after, Anne-Laurence who wore the number 82 jersey says "No, I don't think so."

Admitting that she did get roughed up a bit this session, she says that this is probably her last.

Next year, the boys will be bigger and tougher. Already a strong Élite de Québec soccer player, she also loves rugby and basketball with basketball and rugby vying equally for her greatest devotion. She is currently part of St.Patrick's basketball sports concentration programme. Her talen "It was just for fun, nothing big," explained Anne-Laurence. "When coach Stéphane Trudel decided she would be the quarterback, I too was surprised," added her father. "I said ‘OK, Anne-Laurence, let's throw the ball a while.' I needed to see why.Then I understood."

Anne-Laurence, the third daughter, is surrounded by a family of talented athletic siblings and active, supporting parents.
The eldest, Marie-Pierre, plays rugby at St.Lawrence College and coaches basketball at St. Patrick's while the second, Magali, plays rugby for St.Lawrence and is a member of the National Rugby team which spent three weeks in London last summer and is eyeing the 2016 Olympics.

This October, rugby was voted by the International Olympic Committee to become an official sport again after being excluded in 1924.

Asked about her hopes for making the games, Magali replied "We'll wait to see what happens." Tryouts for the team are held annually in May. Anne-Laurence said her role model has been sister Magali who played football for St.Patrick's in her final year but as a wide receiver.

Elizabeth does gymnastics and plays basketball and soccer at Ste.Foy Elementary School.

"We spend a lot of time with the kids," says Luc, who coached soccer for many years, and also admits to spending a lot of money. "It cost $10,000 for their sports this year."

Nonetheless, these parents support their daughters in their sports lives because they see sports as the candy, or reward, for doing well.

"We tell them if you do well at school, we will support you in sports."

They are keeping to their promises.

"It is very costly," adds Catherine, "but it keeps them focused on life. They don't have time to do naughty things."

They strive hard to keep their children well balanced between school and sports.

"Remember the Scorpio scandal?" asks Luc. "Well, one day our oldest Marie-Pierre, who was 15 at the time, was asked by some girls in the ring to join them. What do you think was her answer? I can't; I have soccer practice." Anne-Laurence was recently featured in the Journal de Québec and interviewed for TVA's Salut Bonjour and a Vox radio show, among other media requests.

"We are not looking for publicity," says Luc. "We just hope to encourage others to realize that there are no limits for girls."
Though girls have been playing on mixed high school football teams for a little while, including St.Patrick's two other female players Patricia Nolan and Maddison Robinson-Trudel this season, it is most unusual that a quarterback, let alone the lead quarterback, is a 14-year old girl.

In fact, most of the team players who confronted the Fighting Irish this session had no idea they were playing with a female quarterback.

After the game, when the players removed their helmets, the players would notice Anne-Laurence.

"Some boys from other teams came to see me after the game to shake my hand," remembered Anne-Laurence. They congratulated her, saying she helped them change how they think.