Whitecaps Kootenay West Academy’s player of the year McKenna Bennett

Whitecaps Kootenay West Academy’s player of the year McKenna Bennett

Whitecaps FC announce 2015 players of the year

Nelson’s McKenna Bennett named player of the year for Kootenay West Academy Centre.

Nelson’s McKenna Bennett has been named the Whitecaps FC Player of the Year for the Kootenay West Academy Centre.

“McKenna has shown fantastic leadership on and off the field for Whitecaps FC in the Kootenays,” said coach Brett Adams said. “Her leadership qualities are outlined in her ability to motivate her teammates. She responds well to feedback and always looks to improve her game with it. She endorses the ‘Whitecaps Way.’ McKenna is a pleasure to coach.”

The 16-year-old defender was pleasantly surprised to receive the first time Whitecaps FC Academy Centre award which was revealed in conjunction with the 2015 Whitecaps FC Player Awards.

“It’s really cool because I’ve worked really hard,” said Bennett, who didn’t know the award existed.

Playing soccer since she was five, Bennett joined the Whitecaps Kootenay West Academy in Nelson when it began three years ago. And she’s noticed a difference in her skill level ever since.

She gave a specific example of how players prepare themselves for the next move.

“Receiving [the ball] on the back foot and looking down the field, opening up your body so you’re ready to look down the field when you’re ready to play the ball.”

Bennett said she’s grown as a leader.

“I like to communicate on the field,” she said, “whether it be directions, or morale if we’re down, to keep us up and positive. It keeps the team together and organized as a unit instead of individualized players.”

Bennett said it’s the team aspect that she enjoys about the sport. “We bond so much with people on the team,” she told the Star, adding that her team was excited for her.

Titus Johnson, a 13 year old player from Cranbrook, was also selected for the award.

Bennett and Johnson are two of 14 players from around BC, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario recognized in their respective regions for representing the club’s mantra of “Our all, our honour,” both on the field and in their communities.