Lukan enjoying the ride; inducted into Barrie Sports Hall of Fame
Megan Lukan smiles at her family after being inducted into the Barrie Sports Hall of Fame during a recent ceremony at the Barrie Royal Canadian Legion Hall. MARK WANZEL/PHOTO
It has been more than a year since Megan Lukan and her Canadian women’s national rugby teammates won a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics.
Finishing on the podium at the Games was a dream come true for Lukan, but as for taking any time to reflect on what has been an eventful year in her life, the former Barrie Central rugby and basketball star says she has been too focused on what lies ahead.
“I don’t know if (winning an Olympic medal) has sunk in really,” admitted the 25-year-old, who was recently inducted into the Barrie Sports Hall of Fame. “For me, I guess I’ve been pursuing rugby for a few years now and it’s kind of on to the next season and what’s up next I think. Maybe when I’m done playing it’ll hit me.
“Maybe I’ll recognize the magnitude of what we were able to accomplish, but right now I think I’m enjoying the ride,” she added. “It’s been great for me and it’s just a lot of fun to be part of.”
Her automatic induction into the local hall of fame was something she admits caught her by surprise.
“I do feel really honoured,” said Lukan, who had her parents, John Lukan and Margaret Mulder, along with her grandparents and siblings in attendance at the induction ceremony. “It definitely wasn’t something I had my eyes set on, nor something I imagined would happen. It’s really neat and I’m very happy and excited.”
Lukan admits she’s a little taken back realizing her name will be up there among all the great athletes who have been honoured in the past.
“It symbolizes that it was a dream I had, a dream I pursued and a dream I achieved,” said Lukan, who flew in from the national rugby team’s home base in Victoria, B.C., to take part in the ceremony. “Being able to make the Olympic team and going to compete, this just a symbol that affirms that.”
There have been so many people that Lukan says have helped her on this amazing ride she’s on. Family and so many coaches and friends among them.
But the talented athlete says it’s her mom who has had the biggest influence on her.
“She’s such a positive person and kind of always knew what to say and when to say it,” Lukan said. “She’s been a big part of my entire life, so I think she definitely inspired me a lot when I was younger.
“She’s just such a wonderful, positive person and one of the best people I know,” she added. “To have her influence at such a young age, really pushed me, drove me to be my best in everything I pursue.”
Born in Toronto, Lukan lived in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles for six years before moving with her family to Barrie in 2000.
Finding their way into athletics was really no surprise. Sports have always played a big part in the Lukan family household.
“I would say my whole family was athletic,” Lukan said. “My mom was very athletic. She encouraged us to play as many sports as we chose to.”
And the Lukan children did exactly that. Megan loved playing multiple sports, participating in soccer, basketball, volleyball and then following her older sister, Alyska, into rugby at Central.
But it was on the basketball court where her athletic talents blossomed.
A member of Ontario’s provincial team beginning in 2005, she would help the Ontario under-17 team win bronze at the 2009 Canada Games in Prince Edward Island.
In 2010, she guided Canada to a third-place finish at the at the FIBA Americas under-18 championship in Chile and would be named Miss Basketball Canada that year. She also took part in the National Elite Development Academy in Grade 11.
A two-sport star, Lukan, after a year off, would return to a dominating Central women’s rugby team. After finishing high school, the focus was back on the court after accepting a basketball scholarship to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
A huge star with the Phoenix over four seasons, after redshirting her first year, the guard would lead the school to the NCAA tournament as a senior.
“I don’t know even know if I really chose between the two,” Lukan said of her two favourite sports. “I absolutely loved playing both when I was in high school and I still love both of them, but I think at the time (basketball) was the opportunity that presented itself.
“With basketball, I had the opportunity to get a scholarship and get a full education, so I think that was the biggest draw.”
After graduating from university in 2015, the call came from assistant coach Sandro Fiorino to join the national women’s rugby program in B.C.
She joined Rugby Canada in April of that year and hasn’t looked back since.
“I still had rugby in the back of my mind and the opportunity came where I could cross over and I just thought it was the right time,” said Lukan, whose younger sister, Kaili, also received a basketball scholarship at UW-Green Bay and is following in her older sister’s footsteps with the national women’s rugby program.
“I never felt like I was choosing one over the other, though that’s essentially what I was doing,” she added. “I had the opportunities and I was just chasing the dreams that were in my heart at those moments in time.”
Lukan’s focus remains on what’s ahead and right now that’s the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo.
“That’s a few years away and I don’t know if I’ll stick with it after that,” she said. “I honestly don’t know what I’ll do after that.”
All she knows is right now she’s having a lot of fun.
“This year we do have the (2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens held in May in San Francisco),” Lukan said. “We have other pivotal moments along the way and I think that will be a good test for our team.
“That’s the goal and just take it step by step.”