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

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

Interfor’s Castlegar mill is getting $35 million in upgrades. Photo by: John Boivin
Interfor to invest $35 million at Castlegar mill

Project will enhance productivity and competitiveness

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
38 new COVID-19 cases, more than 335k vaccines administered in Interior Health

Interior Health also to start targeted vaccinations in high transmission neighbourhoods

Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available, as AstraZeneca supply runs low: Interior Health

Province expecting large volumes of Pfizer BioNTech as age-based cohort immunization program ramps up

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

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

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

Most Read