The Whitecaps FC Kootenay Academy will be bringing the thunder to the SX Cup College Showcase this weekend.
As part of the Caps to College program, there will be about 60 soccer players from the Kootenay academy heading down to the annual tournament held on April 19 -21 in Surrey and Burnaby.
“I’m really excited because it’s a really good experience for us to get good competition. The teams we are going to competing against are going to be really tough, and I’m excited to bond with our team a little bit because we are split in the east and the west,” said Jessica Hansen, U16 girls soccer player.
With the warm weather approaching the teams have just started to come out of their indoor practices. With the transition they have been working a lot on their technique, especially playing in bigger spaces and their passing.
“We have also been working on getting organized and getting out team together, so we have more set plays, so to figure out where everyone is positioned more so we are ready for anything that comes up this weekend,” said Hansen.
The Caps to College program is a tool to give the athletes multiple opportunities to showcase themselves for soccer at the post-secondary level. These athletes are looking to play soccer in college, university or even further in their career.
“It opens up opportunities for not only our education but our athletics as well,” said Titus Johnson, U18 soccer player.
“On top of looking at schools to go to, education and likewise, we also get to step up our ability to play soccer. So we get to perform at another level.”
There is expected to be more than 100 coaches in attendance at the showcase, so head coach Sam Heap is excited to get his athletes out in front of them.
“This is their pinnacle day,” he said. “They have been training for six-seven months indoor … this is probably the toughest competition they will face, and this is what the Caps to College program is based around.”
Throughout the program, Heap says they have been building up to the showcase, including taking the athletes to tournaments and a big focus on fitness and workouts.
“I’m just as excited as they are, to be honest, I can’t wait to get going,” he said, adding he knows the teams will be able to deliver a good game.
“We usually leave these tournaments on a high, and I’m hoping for much of the same this time.”
The work ethic of the teams is what both players think will make them stand out at the showcase, as well as the bond that many of the team members have created the team says will benefit them compared to teams in Vancouver that draw players from all over.
“Us being a tight-knit community we will have the stronger bond together, and we will be able to play together in a more positive way then they will,” said Johnson.
While they will be hitting the big stage in front of many colleges and universities, there are some nerves going in, but they are feeling confident.
“I’m really looking forward to it and I think with the boys we have on the team we will do really well in the tournament,” said Johnson.
Neither Johnson or Hansen has been to the showcase, but they have competed in tournaments this year in Portland and Seattle respectively.
The Kootenay academy will be bringing down four teams as they look to show the colleges what they have to offer in the area.