The Whitecaps’ under-18 girls team was victorious at the 2018 AstroTurf Collegiate Showcase last month. Photo submitted

The Whitecaps’ under-18 girls team was victorious at the 2018 AstroTurf Collegiate Showcase last month. Photo submitted

Whitecaps pushing players from smaller communities into college spotlight

Several local players from the Kootenay academy are on their way to post-secondary schools

When Whitecaps FC began opening regional academy centres, the club made a commitment to give local players opportunities to have high level coaching, develop their game, and see a pathway towards levels of success that they may not have previously considered.

Part of that commitment has come in the form of a recent ‘Caps to College’ program at select centres. The selection-based system is designed for players from U15 to U18 who are looking for the best opportunity to play in college, university, and beyond. Each targeted academy centre’s coaching staff work in collaboration with the club’s manager of collegiate transition, Ryan Clark, on executing a post-secondary strategy that develops on and off-field qualities sought by collegiate scouts.

As part of this program, players are given opportunities to be showcased at special events. Last month, the Whitecaps FC Kootenay U18 and U16 girls crossed the border to take part in the 2018 AstroTurf Collegiate Showcase at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash.

“This program really shows how seriously the club is taking their focus towards improving the level in these smaller regions, and giving them the opportunity to shine and be showcased,” said Brett Adams, Whitecaps FC academy centre associate head coach. “The girls had a fantastic weekend, with lots of attention from college and university scouts.”

On the pitch, the U18 girls finished undefeated with three wins and one draw to finish atop the tournament. The U16 squad – made up of younger U15 and U14 players – played to three draws and one defeat.

“The way the girls played was fantastic,” said Adams. “It was great soccer and exciting to watch.”

The push for the college pathway has already paid dividends recently, with no fewer than 16 players moving on to post-secondary soccer:

Sophie Borhi (Louisiana State University of Alexandria)

Julia Burkart (Thompson Rivers University)

Nicole Byford (University of Lethbridge)

Zak Campbell (West Liberty University)

Jack Crook (University of Lethbridge)

Anna Erikson (Saint Mary’s University)

Paige Gattafoni (University of Lethbridge)

Kru Huska (Ambrose University)

Maya Ida (University of Calgary)

Jack MacSteven (University of Lethbridge)

Shianna Michalchuk (Thompson Rivers University)

Tyler Peters (Red Deer College)

Hanna Quinn (University of Lethbridge)

Aletha Riemer (King’s University)

Keeghan Tingley (Red Deer College)

Taylor Zimmer (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology)