Anyone who’s spent a winter in Fort St. John would be forgiven for thinking the city wouldn’t produce high-end soccer players. There are usually two to three Grade 12 players, both boys and girls, who move on to play college or university soccer at the end of their NPSS and Fort St. John Soccer Club careers.
However, this season, the NPSS senior girls team alone will have at least seven girls moving on to play soccer at the next level. Teagan Clement (Red Deer College), Emma Close (Grande Prairie Regional College), Kenzie Chilcott and Claire Turner (both at University of Northern B.C.) have all signed with a college for the 2019-20 season, while three more girls are currently weighing offers and deciding which schools they will play for.
The girls have all been playing together on a team since they were eight years old, with the same coach, Dan Turner, leading the way. That consistent atmosphere has allowed the girls and the team to reach their peak and led to this moment.
“I’ve always wanted to play at the highest level I could. I’m stoked and excited, and can’t wait to get to the next level and be the best I can be,” said Chilcott.
The four girls who have already signed have each had the goal of playing college soccer for at least the last three years, and are thrilled the time has finally come.
“It’s nerve wracking, but in a good way. We’re so excited for each other and to see where our paths take each of us, but it will definitely be a sad final tournament at the end of this year,” Clement said.
“It will definitely be upsetting at first to not have each other around,” she said.
Give the coach credit
Each of the four girls credited their personal and team success to their coach. Claire admitted she’s biased because Dan is her father, but said him keeping the team together for a decade has been crucial for the development of each player.
“Our coach never stopped believing in us, and always wanted us to take our soccer playing to the next level,” said Chilcott.
Dan was quick to give the credit right back to the girls.
“They put in a lot of hours and I’m very proud of them. These girls have trained at 6 a.m., three days a week, all winter long, for years. It’s very easy to be successful when they’re willing to work so hard,” Dan said.
Kids Fieldhouse Arena
The winter training leaves the girls in top shape when the snow finally melts and the outdoor seasons begin — NPSS first, followed by the club — begin. To that end, the Kids Arena Fieldhouse, which was renovated into its current form in 2011, has allowed the girls to play year-long. It’s also one reason Dan said Fort St. John is likely to keep producing college soccer players at this rate.
“There are a lot of age groups and teams coming up here who have had the same opportunity these girls have, and I expect to see a similar amount of players move on to college in the following years,” said Dan.
The girls aren’t done with Fort St. John yet. The outdoor high school season begins in May, with the girls traveling to Costa Rica for a trip to coach and encourage underprivileged athletes, to be followed by tournaments in Vancouver and Victoria.
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at firstname.lastname@example.org.