The Nelson Selects under-18 girls team gets a taste of gold after winning a provincial championship earlier this month. Photo: Bob Hall

The Nelson Selects under-18 girls team gets a taste of gold after winning a provincial championship earlier this month. Photo: Bob Hall

COLUMN: What it took for Nelson to win gold

Former Nelson Star editor Bob Hall reflects on a local soccer achievement

Bob Hall

Special to the Star

On the drive back from Kamloops, I told my daughter that what her soccer team just accomplished is far from normal. Fresh off receiving her second BC Provincial B Cup gold medal in the last three years, the Nelson under-18 Selects had just accomplished something that is unlikely to be repeated in our region for a very long time.

In the last three years, Ashley Hall has been part of four provincial medal winning teams: gold in U16, bronze in Grade 11 high school with the L.V. Rogers Bombers, silver last season with the U18s and now gold with the U18s. A couple of her teammates (Julia Burkart and Hanna Quinn) have an entire fistful of provincial medals because they were on the gold-medal winning Bombers team in Grade 10.

For a tiny community in the middle of the mountains playing against much larger associations and high schools in populous places like Kamloops, Kelowna, Victoria and Vancouver, that accomplishment is Hoosier-esque.

Sunday’s 3-0 victory over the favoured Kamloops Storm pretty much summed up what this team was all about. From their earliest days in competitive soccer when they were only 11, they were taught that kicking the ball down the pitch and chasing after it was not the key to success. Under the guidance of amazing coaching they were taught the possession game, which at times was not easy. They lost a lot of games in the first couple years, sometimes by lopsided margins because their opposition did kick the ball down the pitch and chase after it.

Related: Champions! Nelson U18 Selects win provincial gold

On Sunday they were underdogs and they knew it, but this group of girls entered the game with a business-like approach. They spent seven years developing their ball skills and having faith in the systems established by their coaches. It started to pay off a couple of years ago and in their last gold-medal match, they seemed more than ready to test their approach one last time.

As I go searching for the best spot to take photos, I tend to place myself amongst the opposition parents during games because they strangely always seem to be in the prime location. As I have heard on the sidelines for the last couple of years, the parents of other teams are quick to rain praise upon our girls. It always takes folks from larger centres by surprise when a squad from a small town plays so stellar. On Sunday they commented many times about how well they play together as a unit and how the coaching staff uses the whole bench equally.

I’m no expert in soccer, but when I reflect on how it is that this group of girls has had so much success in recent years there is one word that comes before all others: trust. These girls trust each other and they trust their coaches. That’s not always easy to do, especially for teenage girls. But they are proof that it works. This is not blind trust. Over the years, they have all tested each other and they have all tested their coaches. In the end, they know they can rely upon each other because they all demand equally from each other. It’s a beautiful thing.

The lessons of youth sport are so much more important than medals. I feel fortunate to have watched my daughter grow up with so many tremendous role models. There will never be enough thanks for Iain Harvey, Peter Quinn, Chuck Bennett and Paul Burkart. Over the years, these four coaches have given so much of themselves to ensure a duffel bag full of amazing memories and knapsack full of essential human qualities for our girls. The girls’ future successes, whatever those may be, will always be shared with the people who helped plant the proper seeds. These four men can be sure that the humans they helped raise will always look back on this time with fondness and respect.

After the game, Ashley walked across the pitch like she has so many times over the years. Win or lose, we hug and I mutter, “Good game.” On Sunday we hugged, but there was no sound. The lump in my throat blocked all words. That’s OK because sometimes words are not necessary in those moments. Had I been able to fight through the tears that were hidden behind my Ray-Bans, I would have said that even though this chapter of her life is over, the game of life continues and I know there are many, many years of good to come. With a foundation based on trust, commitment and friendship it’s the only outcome that fits.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A sign indicating a COVID-19 testing site is displayed inside a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
4 more deaths, 54 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

This brings the total to 66 deaths in the region

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Wildlife biologist and educator Joanne Siderius was last year’s winner of the Suzy Hamilton Legacy Award for women environmentalists in the West Kootenay. Photo: Submitted
Hunter Jin shows off some homemade rice wraps. Donations poured into the Nelson Community Food Centre during the holidays. Photo: Submitted
Nelson Community Food Centre brings in $150k during holiday fundraising

The centre says the money will help address significant need in the city

Castlegar Sculpturewalk 2020 – 10 Year Anniversary Sand Sculpture. (Submitted/CBT)
CBT arts and culture grant program now accepting applications

Apply through the Kootenay Columbia Cultural Alliance

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Interior Health reported two more COVID-19 deaths at Sunnybank Retirement Center in Oliver Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 claims lives of two more South Okanagan care home residents

Five residents of the Oliver care home have died since the outbreak was first declared

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

Most Read