BY CRAIG SLATER, LEADER-POST
Claire Dore is more than just a receiver with the Regina Riot.
The second-year member of the Western Women's Canadian Football League club prides herself on playing numerous roles, both on and off the field.
"I have always believed that if you wanted to be an important part of a team and a contributing member of a team, there are a lot of ways to do it," said Dore, whose Riot will take on the Saskatoon Valkyries on Sunday in the Prairie Conference title game. "The more skills and abilities you have and the more things you can offer, the more the coaches are going to try to use you."
In addition to her pass-catching duties, Dore also is a first-aid responder to an injured teammate. Her kinisiology background - Dore received her degree in that field and is a certified first-aid giver - allows her to help the team's training staff.
As well, Dore's 10 years of teaching and coaching various sports at Campbell Collegiate - junior and senior girls basketball, soccer and handball - allow her to offer advice from a coach's perspective to her younger Riot teammates. For that, Dore's natural leadership qualities have her in a captain's role with the Riot.
"If I can make myself useful, whether it's taping an ankle or catching a touchdown, whatever that thing is, telling you to switch your footwork, I'll do whatever I can," she said. "At the end of the day, it's not my championship. It's our championship."
She stressed that she doesn't talk over her Riot coaches, but she said it's hard not to speak up in the locker room or during timeouts.
"I think it's inevitable," she said. "I have played a lot of sports for a long time and it's like I can't help but say something. I never want to undercut our coaches, but if I know something or see something and I can give my teammates a hint to help them out, I'll absolutely do that.
"It almost happens without me even thinking about it."
Dore's confidence is obvious. She has played sports at the national level - she suited up for Canada's women's handball team for 10 years - and has been an active member of the Saskatchewan women's handball club since 1996.
Her experience in football also is extensive. She played the touch version for 17 seasons before she joined the Riot in 2011. The contact element from handball made the transition from touch football to tackle an easier move for her than it has been for others.
"That was one of the hurdles that a lot of the women had initially," Dore explained. "A lot of them wondered if they would be OK with it. For me, contact wasn't an issue. I'm ready to get hit, I know what it feels like to get hit, and I have been hit and not been hurt. I'm not fearful in that regard."
Saskatoon has dominated the WWCFL over the past two seasons, including a 5-0 record against Regina. The defending league champions have outscored their provincial rival 205-36 in those games, including a 35-16 Saskatoon victory earlier this season.
But the Riot players feel they've improved and that they're due for a win against the powerhouse Valkyries.
"They are absolutely beatable," Dore insisted. "Every time we have stepped on the field this season, we get better. We have experienced so much growth. Saskatoon has started out at the top, where we have been building. I know they're aware of us, but I don't think they understand how far we have come."