Member Intro – Karen
I’m Karen Gasbarino, official Arrows Supporter Number 11. It isn’t the top ten, but it’s just ‘this side of top ten’. That would be the entire story of my life, so it’s way fitting.
I am a writer/editor and print and marketing professional. Am I that first or a rugby supporter first? Hard to say. I think it’s rugby first. The way the game is played, the people, the players…
I started supporting Rugby Canada in the 2010/11 season ahead of World Cup 2011 in New Zealand. I was a big supporter of Jebb Sinclair because he’s hella funny and he would banter back. Little did he know that by bantering back with me he would awaken a monster that for the next 9 years would turn my love of rugby and enjoyment of bantering about it into a viable second career. Anyway, I tell Jebb I am all his fault. He laughs. Wish him a happy May the 4th. It’s his favourite national holiday!
I’m heavily involved in Rugby United. The original Rugby United – predates RUNY of the MLR.
In 2012 three rugby supporters (at least two of these were Gloucester guys) were talking rugby in a pub and came up with the idea of @RugbyUnited. I saw their hashtag #rugbyunited being used and I started to use it too and we all started following each other. Out of the blue Trevor Large asked me if I wanted to run @RugbyCAN_. None of us has ever looked back. They have never told me what to do or intervened, and between me and all the great supporters in Canada, we have a very successful twitter feed that the mother ship in England can be proud of. I am proud of it too, because Rugby Canada and most of the Unions within Canada recognize us, as now do most of the MLR teams, and most certainly our own, Toronto Arrows.
In 2015 I was writing for Last Word on Sports, and I went to every game I possibly could; international fixtures, the PanAm Games in Toronto, and then I went to see Canada play Romania in Leicester, England at the World Cup. I told Harry Jones I’d see him there and I did. He was the one player I managed to see post match. Harry’s been a great support of mine ever since. One of my first pieces was about Canada great and Arrows coach Aaron Carpenter. I have written about him 3 times now, same as former Canada fullback James Pritchard and Jamie Cudmore. It’s amazing to see the things these Canada stalwarts have done in their careers.
It was being so vocal about concussion education that led Jamie and Jennifer Cudmore to me; I spent 18 months helping them establish their Rugby Safety Network. In turn I came to the attention of Ædelhard, a performance tailoring line of clothing with values that match our fine sport, of the #ModernGentleman. Take a look at what they do. I have now spent two years writing pieces about players and editing their online newsletter The Scrum.
That’s my inside scoop. I was always going to back a home-grown team, but it doesn’t hurt that I know John Moonlight and his mom Debbie, and a lot of the folks working with the Arrows fairly well. But the fact that I had quite a few discussions with Bill Webb during the startup doesn’t hurt either. It all has resulted in me being very well invested (emotionally) in the team. I was right there to get a seasons ticket (my first ever in any sport! The previous team I threw my support behind is 5000 km away in the Midlands!), and I will wish this band of men the very best until the end of time.
Great group of guys. And some fantastic stories that Ædelhard has covered in recent years. You can give any of these a read for some really great background on some of your favourite Arrows.
Note: Some of these pieces go back nearly two years. Some of the epilogues might have changed for them. Retirement doesn’t always mean forever. And being the oldest rookie doesn’t always mean a few matches then the end of a career. Look at how amazing Rob Brouwer’s path has been. There are other great pieces too by other writers about other players in the MLR. They are vignettes into the lives of sports figures that you don’t always see. You MIGHT also notice that Brock Smith has written for Ædelhard too, and you may or may not know that he’s now the Arrows Communications Director. (He’s also one of my favourite writers to edit).
Always interested in talking rugby. Talk Arrows in my sleep. Anytime you want to banter about MLR or our Arrows, find me at @gasbarnut12! Look forward to it. I’m going to stick with our supporter’s club, great bunch of folks! And just the right kind of humour that Jebb would appreciate!
Here’s a piece on Theo Sauder. Super intelligent. https://thescrum.aedelhard.com/2018/12/13/theo-sauders-ascension-from-spectator-to-playmaker/
The piece on Rob Brouwer, star of Lindsay RFC: https://thescrum.aedelhard.com/2018/08/28/rob-brouwer-from-a-lindsay-farm-boy-to-canadas-33-year-old-rookie/
Co-Captain Lucas Rumball: https://thescrum.aedelhard.com/2018/10/04/lucas-rumball-a-key-cog-in-canadas-rugby-machine/
The announcement of the Arrows joining the MLR: https://thescrum.aedelhard.com/2018/12/04/arrows-up-toronto-brings-the-mlr-to-canada/